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Hannah Marks reflects on the challenges and value of shooting characters in New Zealand

Hannah Marks is a well-known writer and director who got her start acting in projects like Accepted, Weeds, Necessary Roughness, and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. Writer and director Hann



Writer-director With her first feature film directorial effort, After Everything, Hannah Marks, who has appeared in films such as Accepted, Weeds, Necessary Roughness, and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, made her acting debut. Before directing Don’t Make Me Go, she also directed the film Mark, Mary & Some Other People, which can be seen on Amazon Prime Video right now.

Marks “really enjoyed” directing a film she didn’t write.

Because I was able to see the material from an outside perspective, and because I was able to riff on the material that already existed,” Marks tells The Hollywood Reporter. As a result of everyone’s involvement, “we did some improvisation and played around a bit.”

But that doesn’t mean Don’t Make Me Go didn’t have its share of difficulties in the making. While on their way to New Orleans for Max’s college reunion, John Cho and Mia Isaac star as the father and daughter of the two characters. Even though Max has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, the trip serves as a way for him to share some life lessons with his daughter Wally (Isaac).


Marks and Co. had to make a choice between the actor and making an American road trip movie in New Zealand when Cho was in New Zealand working on Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was impossible to have both John Cho and America, so we chose John Cho because, even though this is an American story, the most important aspect in it was the father-daughter relationship, and John was so perfect for the role that we figured we’d come to him,” Marks recalls. Marks also notes that the film was shot in Korea. New Zealand at the time had zero cases of COVID, so it was completely risk-free for us to travel there and shoot the movie.” As you might expect, there were plenty of obstacles to overcome.”

Marks quickly identifies a number of challenges: This is an American road trip movie set in the summer, and we were in Auckland during the winter. There were some difficulties due to the weather. The entire trip involved a lot of driving. It’s the other side of the road there, so you’ll have to adjust your driving accordingly. In addition, there are fewer roads and highways, and you cannot close any of them.

“Plus, left-hand drive cars are illegal there unless it is a vintage car, which is how Max’s Wagoneer was born,” she continues. As far as I know, that was not a part of the plot. He used to drive a Toyota Corolla, which was fairly up to date at the time… When I went to Japan, I was surprised to see so many things that were completely out of the ordinary, such as the doorknobs and door handles that were so high compared to those in the United States. Selling the states of California, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Florida in Auckland. There is no other city like New Orleans.”


It was difficult, but Marks says that filming in New Zealand “ultimately” made everything “better,” even though the car had to be reworked because of its location.

According to the director, “We had an incredible local crew that was really supportive of trying to make everything look like the United States”.

In the future, Marks hopes to pen her own stories after directing the HBO Max adaptations of John Green’s best-selling novels, Turtles All the Way Down and Don’t Make Me Go but not writing them.

Even though she enjoyed the screenplays she got to direct and was grateful for, she admitted, “I’m really craving doing some writing,” and said she “probably” will write the next thing because she “didn’t write” the previous two and “is itching to get back to it.”


This does not, however, rule out the possibility that Marks had some sort of emotional attachment to Don’t Make Me Go. In an interview with THR, Marks discusses how she got involved with the movie, why it resonated with her, making movies for streaming services and her future as a writer-director.

What prompted you to take on this project as a director’s chair?

At the Big Beach headquarters in New York, I had a general meeting with Peter Saraf. I was a huge fan of his work because he directed such memorable films as Little Miss Sunshine and Adaptation. After our meeting, he sent me the script for Don’t Make Me Go, which I read right away and fell in love with. Because of the twist ending, I found it emotionally resonant because it was so daring and bold, both in the beginning of the movie and at the end. And I had many personal connections to it as well. At least that’s where things started, I suppose.

Please elaborate on the connections between your own life and this topic.


In addition to teaching me how to drive, my father has battled with cancer.

“Don’t Make Me Go” spoilers are in the following paragraph.

In addition, I’ve got a problem with my heart. Therefore, I was shocked by the plot twist. Because of the heart valve issue I have, I’m not sure if it’ll kill me or not; however, it definitely connects me to what happens in the twist of events.



What are you hoping the audience will take away from this film?

I hope they don’t leave the impression that you can reach adulthood at any point. A 15-year-old and her 40-something father are both coming of age at the same time in this story. Change, experimentation, and risk-taking are never out of bounds. Whatever the future holds for me in terms of pursuing my various aspirations, goals, and aspirations, I hope to never give up on them. At the end of the film, I want that to sing.

As for your next project, Turtles All the Way Down, it will be shown on HBO Max. As the future of cinematic releases is in question, how do you feel about the release of this film on a streaming platform?

As a cultural institution, going to the movies fills me with joy and sentimentality. In spite of this, I don’t like to disparage streaming because it allows a greater number of artists to make films, and I’m one of them. When I stream, I’m able to work on projects that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. In my opinion, streaming or not releasing the film in theaters is not a problem because it allows us to tell so many more stories and reach so many more people.


This is a long-running production, and you have been involved with it for a long time—first at Fox, and now with HBO Max. ‘Turtles All the Way Down’ In terms of how the project has evolved, what has it been like to be a part of it?

As a result, I feel like I’ve been able to progress along with the project. I was in my early twenties when I began interviewing for this film, and I’m now in my late thirties. I’ve grown and changed over the course of my personal life, and it’s exciting to see how my perspective shifts with the project. In light of the current pandemic, the story’s protagonist’s fear of germs and infectious disease has become even more relevant, as we can all now relate to that, not just those with anxiety or hypochondriac tendencies. That’s an experience I believe we’ve all had. To me, it seems like the timing of the film’s release was fated precisely for this moment in history.

To what extent do you intend to pursue your career as a writer-director going forward?

My characters and their relationships will always be at the forefront of my writing, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. My writing could use a bit of a conceptual lift. There is a robot and a near future in the most recent thing I wrote that I haven’t yet taken out, and I had a lot of fun with that process and found it extremely fun. However, even with a robot, it’s still a romantic comedy.


For the sake of readability, this conversation has been edited and condensed.

To read the full article, click here.