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Offseason Filmmakers Detail the Single Hardest Day on Set

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Mickey Keating is back with a new feature! Ever since covering his third film, Pod, at SXSW 2015, I’ve made a point to consistently cover his work which kept me mighty busy. Later that year there was Darling, Carnage Park premiered at Sundance in 2016 and then I caught Psychopaths at the 2017 Overlook Film Festival. The gap of time between Psychopaths and Offseason is only about four years long, but when you get in the habit of looking forward to a new Keating film on an annual basis, the wait felt interminable. But now that time has finally come again; we’re covering a brand new Mickey Keating film’s festival debut.

Offseason stars Jocelin Donahue as Marie, a young woman who must travel to a secluded beach town. In the summer, business is booming but when the season ends, the tourists clear out and they raise the bridge, closing the town off entirely until the next season roles around. With help from Joe Swanberg’s George, Marie must take care of business and get out before the bridge goes up.

With Offseason celebrating its world premiere at SXSW 2021, we welcomed Keating, Donahue and Swanberg to the channel to discuss their experience making the film. This probably won’t come as much of a surprise, but my first question for Keating had to be about the four-year wait for Offseason. Here’s why the prep took a bit longer and the benefits of having that additional time:

“I went and I did a television show for Shudder, a show called The Core, which was a different way to look at moviemaking. And I usually would have done another movie in that time. And then after that I had the luxury to be able to sit and think about what I wanted to do and develop ideas for things that were living in my brain for a long time. So with this one, I knew that I wanted to do a movie in Florida so figuring out the logistics behind that. It requires some pretty big asks like an actual bridge that rises up and locks the character in, and just all of these little elements. And this was the first movie I’d ever done where I actually drew the entire film and edited it beforehand so that when we started shooting, we were able to kind of break those rules. So yeah, it definitely feels like a longer length between my other movies, but it was really the first movie that I was able to make where I was like, ‘Alright, I’m ready to take that next step.”

Jocelin Donahue in Offseason
Image via SXSW

A big reason why I’ve taken to Keating’s work is because of how it reflects his passion for genre storytelling. And apparently that excitement is something that radiates out on set as well. Here’s how Donahue put it:

“He just has this pure enthusiasm and exuberance. On set he was just so happy and it makes everybody else feel relaxed and free to create. It was just a really cool ecosystem, the whole set, all the departments, and I know he’s worked with a lot of the same people so that also just felt like a family right away. But yeah, Mickey just goes for it. I think he was always saying it gives him life. He loves to find the interesting things, the unexpected things so it was just really inspiring to be around him and work with him.”

As someone with many feature films to his name as a director as well, I was mighty eager to ask Swanberg if he picked anything up from watching Keating work that he might take back to his own projects as director. Here’s what he said:

“Honestly, my biggest takeaway was watching Mickey be a problem solver on a movie this big with this many moving pieces and also, as Mickey was saying, he had storyboarded the film out ahead of time, he knew it really well and those things are around and then occasionally you lose a location, the light changes unexpectedly, some piece of equipment isn’t working. I was so impressed with Mickey’s ability to adjust and it really reminded me, I think that’s one of the greatest skills a filmmaker can have; come in prepared and then remain totally flexible because you’re working in the real world. We’re not on a studio, we don’t have complete control over the technical elements of this and I never saw him lose his cool. It was a really inspiring experience to show up, ‘Okay, Plan A is obviously not gonna happen.’ Mickey had Plans B, C and D ready to go, plus a good attitude about it.”

This right here is only scratching the surface of our conversation on Offseason. There’s much more praise for Keating where this came from in addition to a bunch of behind-the-scenes stories about Donahue filming a key monologue to camera, why Offseason had the single hardest day of filmmaking Keating’s ever experienced and loads more. You can catch it all in the video interview at the top of this article!

RELATED: Watch: Shudder’s ‘The Core’ Asks a Criminologist What Horror Movies Get Wrong About Murder

Mickey Keating, Jocelin Donahue, Joe Swanberg:

  • 00:35 – Keating explains the four year gap between the festival debut of Psychopaths and Offseason; what made making Offseason unique compared to his other films.
  • 03:12 – Donahue highlights a shared trait of the horror directors she’s worked with; what makes Keating stand out.
  • 04:45 – Swanberg on learning from the directors he works with; something Keating did that he’ll take with him to his next feature as director.
  • 06:31 – Keating and Donahue revisit working on Insidious: Chapter 2.
  • 07:13 – What is Offseason about?
  • 07:55 – Swanberg on the prep necessary to play characters with so much history; the backstory they built for Marie and George.
  • 10:10 – Donahue discusses Marie’s mentality in the movie.
  • 11:17 – Donahue on nailing a key monologue, much of which is delivered straight to camera.
  • 12:05 – Keating on his evolving collaboration with cinematographer Mac Fisken.
  • 13:14 – Offseason had the single hardest day of any film Keating’s made.
  • 15:55 – Keating highlights the unsung heroes of the production.
  • 17:26 – Keating on filling out his supporting ensemble with newcomers like April Linscott and industry veterans like Melora Walters.
  • 18:32 – Keating discusses his hopes for his directing career moving forward.

KEEP READING: ‘Carnage Park’ Review: Mickey Keating is the Real Deal

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