Joe Swanberg’s latest picture, Hannah Takes the Stairs, premiered here at SXSW tonight (it’s not in Competition, so I missed it — I’m on the jury and was watching another film at the time) — and Ray Pride has a mammoth interview up with the director. Here Swanberg talks about how he developed the film and got it produced following a meeting with producer Anish Savjanti here at the festival last year.
[Anish] is from Austin. He saw LOL [at SxSW] and he came to the LOL party that night, said, “I like it, let’s talk.” I think three weeks later we were in business. We started shooting a few months after that. It was like a short pitch to him over the telephone and he agreed to do it. And then when I presented him—[Swanberg laughs] Really, I said to him what I said to everybody, which is like, “If you want to help me and you have some money and you want to enable me to make this film on HD and work with the people that I want to work with, then I love you and I think you’re great. But I’m not going to write a script and I’m not going to change the way I make movies.” Because I can do it by myself if I want to. So he said, “What’s your idea?” so I told him my idea. What I gave him was a drawing on a piece of paper that sort of looked like a martini glass that outlined the characters and the way the story would progress and potentially split into two different [stories]. That’s what he approved, based on the drawing.