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Filmmakers Spotlight: Interview with Di Koob of LIKING MEN

This week's Filmmakers Spotlight focuses on Di Koob, writer, producer and actor of LIKING MEN. Learn more about the inspiration behind the film, Koob's goals, lessons and upcoming projects.

Tell us a little bit about your project and how long you’ve been working on it.

I first read the short story from which this film was adapted in 1994, and it just kind of stuck with me. It’s a very visual story, as written, and every now and then I’d think, “That would make a good short film.” I finally wrote the script in November 2009 and it took until mid-2010 to get the rights from Margaret Atwood, the author of the short story and her publisher. Pre-production began in earnest in January 2011 with the search for a director; I was lucky to find the fabulous Heather de Michele, and we nailed down the shoot for the end of April; post was completed in late August. Once it got going, things moved quickly, but it took me a while to start.

Is there anyone you'd like to thank for helping out with this film?

I have to thank Heather de Michele, our director, first and foremost. She really contributed so much to the telling of the story, from developing the script to the people she brought on board to the tone on set. She really took on the story I had written – it was a true collaborative effort and was so much better for her involvement. I would also like to thank our production designer, Alan Muraoka – he made me think about character in a new way, which helped on both sides of the camera.

How does it feel to have your film part of the New Film Makers Screening at Sunset Gower Studios?

I’m really so pleased and proud to be a part of NewFilmmakers! They were the first festival to get behind LIKING MEN, and I have to say, it’s just a fantastic feeling when people get your work.

What inspires you?

Life is hard sometimes, and I’m really touched by people just living their lives fully and from an awake and aware place. I’m drawn to stories of quiet heroism, of overcoming the messes that life can throw at you just because that’s life, not because there’s any reward in it. Those moments really inspire me to live my life more fully, to grow both as an artist and as a person.

Who are your influences and who do you admire?

Irish playwright & filmmaker Martin McDonagh is a huge influence for me. In 2005, I saw his play THE PILLOWMAN on Broadway, and it really galvanized me as an artist. McDonagh is so great at creating a funny, quirky, off-kilter world that you enjoy while simultaneously revealing both the darkness and the light that is inside of everyone. He walks that line between comedy and tragedy with such balance and precision.
One of the people I admire most is my cousin, Joy Coughlin – she is tireless. Her younger son has Cerebral Palsy and caring for him takes a lot of work, but her family is happy and they all get along and work together and care about and for each other. They are just getting on with life, which is truly inspiring and puts whatever issue I’m having in perspective. It’s just life, so press on and enjoy it.

What lessons have you learned from the industry so far?

Persistence is the big thing I’ve learned. Persistence and integrity – you have to fight for what you want to do, what you want to say, and so you keep at it and find a way to tell your story.
If you could collaborate with anybody, who would it be?
I would LOVE to work with Jim Sheridan. And Melissa McCarthy. They would be my dream team.

What is the toughest experience you've ever had to overcome?

Oddly, with the film, the hardest thing was finding a realistic-looking rubber frog that I could afford within the time frame. I was banging my head against the wall trying to find the frog. There is a company that will make a really realistic rubber frog, but their cost wasn’t even in the same state as my budget and it would’ve been finished roughly around the time we were wrapping up post. So that was a little nerve-wracking, but I eventually did find something that would work. Everything else kind of fell in place. For casting, we wanted people who wanted to work on this film specifically, not just any film – for all the crew as well. And when you find people who want to be there, it makes everything else go that much smoother.

What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?

When it comes to filmmaking, an editor friend gave me great advice: “save money wherever you can, but always pay the sound guy – everything else I can fix, but if the sound is bad, there’s nothing I can do.” That and “NEXT!” When someone says no, move on to the next until you find someone who will say yes.
What advice would you give to new filmmakers starting out in the industry?
Work as much as you can with people who are more experienced than you. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid of looking stupid, just ask for help and move forward, even if it’s just a little bit each day. Believe in yourself and your story. And “NEXT!”

Where can we expect to see you next?

The next confirmed festival screening of LIKING MEN is at the New Hope Film Festival in New Hope, PA, in July. We’re hoping a few more festivals show up on our schedule in the meantime. I’m also hoping to develop a program with a local rape crisis center and with a local therapist training center, to help start a conversation. Nothing is set yet, but we’re talking.

Let our readers know where they can find more information about you and your projects
Facebook (Di Koob & Liking Men)
Twitter (@TheDiKoob)

About the Author

Formerly an editor at Demand Media, writer at Citysearch, The Examiner, LA Youth Newspaper and proofreader at The Los Angeles Daily News, Christy Buena decided to start Disarray Magazine because she missed writing what she wanted. From hiring writers, to contacting publicists and making assignments, Christy is responsible for the editorial strategy of Disarray Magazine. Get to know the team of talented contributors.
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