Offseason Star Joe Swanberg Talks Mickey Keating, Acting & Directing

Joe Swanberg is as active in front of the camera as he is behind it, acting, writing, and directing several projects, thriving as a versatile artist. With diverse projects like Easy on Netflix, You're Next (2011), and Build the Wall (2020), the actor took it upon himself to work with director Mickey Keating on his latest project, Offseason, about a woman who finds herself trapped in a small island town investigating the mysterious supernatural circumstances surrounding her mother's death after her grave was disturbed. I spoke to Swanberg about his previous opportunity, what he learned from Keating and the chemistry with his co-stars.

Offseason Star Jocelin Donahue on Film's Cerebral Lovecraftian Vibe
Jocelin Donahue and Joe Swanberg in Offseason (2022). Image courtesy of RLJE Films / Shudder

"I had known of him and his films for years and had almost worked with him on a film called 'Carnage Park' (2016) years earlier," Swanberg recalled. "When he called me about 'Offseason,' I just wanted to do it right away. I told him. I didn't even need to know what the film was about or read the script, I just wanted to work with him, and I dove right in. He just has a great infectious on-set attitude, put me in a good mood every day, and made me laugh a lot, which created a very fun environment. He's a great problem solver. As a director myself, I'm always interested in watching how others manage their sets, how they make decisions, and just what they're like. I just loved Mickey's directing style. I was really very impressed when I finished working with him."

Offseason Star Joe Swanberg Talks Mickey Keating, Acting & Directing
Joe Swanberg in Offseason (2022). Image courtesy of RLJE Films / Shudder

As far as what Swanberg picked up from Keating, it would probably be his stoicism for starters. "I will certainly try and rip off his on-set attitude as much as possible," he said. "Like I got to see how helpful and healthy it is to see a director smiling, laughing, and having fun. As an actor, it put me in such a good mood and made me feel safe and comfortable. Then, I felt that he always had a plan A and a well-thought-out Plan B, and I found that really impressive, too. I didn't watch him fumble around very much if there were obstacles. He always seemed to make very quick pivots and have a really good idea of what our next best option was, and that all filled out well."

Swanberg easily got along with his co-stars. "It was great, and I've known Jocelin [Donahue] (who plays the lead in Mary) and run into her over the years for probably a decade, so it's really fun to finally work with her," he said. "I had a great time, and also knowing each other for so long allowed us to dive right in. We had lunch once before we went to Florida and started filming. I think we felt immediately on the same page and just got to kind of hit the ground running. While I didn't know Richard [Brake], he was great to work with on set, and we had a really fun time. Jeremy [Gardner], who plays one of the local villagers, is another independent filmmaker who Mickey knew, but I have never met before, and I really love Jeremy as well. It was just had a really nice time. I was very happy and spirited set."

Offseason Star Jocelin Donahue on Film's Cerebral Lovecraftian Vibe
RLJE Films / Shudder

As far as how becoming a director from the acting side of things helped Swanberg provide some perspective. "When I'm on the directing side of the equation, it's useful to remember how vulnerable acting is, how insecure I feel when I act in other people's films, how nice it feels just to get a little encouragement, enthusiasm, and a pat on the back," he said. "It just keeps it keeps all of those feelings fresh. It reminds me to be giving as a director, generous, and kind as much as possible. I get to steal tricks from people. I mean, it's almost like a vacation. I get to take on the outfit of the boss, the leader of the person with all the ideas, and I just get to kind of blend into an ensemble or become part of the crew. I was just [used to] being on both sides of that line. I think it's healthy to fill out what both sides feel." RLJE Films and Shudder's Offseason, which also stars Melora Walters comes to select theaters, on-demand and digital on March 11th. You can check out our interview with Donahue here.

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Tom ChangAbout Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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