Calling all young filmmakers and indie film lovers! Be sure to add the dark comedy, MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction), to your never-ending list of movies to watch. It follows the dysfunctional relationships between two sisters and their mother. Struggling with bipolar disorder, the mother is consistently pushed out of her daughters’ lives after being admitted into a psychiatric ward. This mature film throws itself full-force at tackling serious topics with witty and brutally blunt dialogue while simultaneously shedding light on these issues. It is stunning to discover that MAD is the first feature length film from director and writer Robert G. Putka, who is only 25 years old! (He also makes a cameo in the film as the leader of a creative writing group.)
Robert agreed to answer some questions for HerCampus DePaul about MAD as well as offer advice related to his experience in working in the industry as a young filmmaker.
MM: How and when did you decide you wanted your first feature length film to be a dark comedy?
RP: I’ve always gravitated toward dark comedy… I think that dark comedy is derived from juicing absurdity from dramatic, emotionally involved situations, which is where I feel most comfortable as a writer and director.
MM: What was the hardest part about writing the screenplay for MAD? The easiest?
RP: Essentially MAD is a low-key ensemble piece, and figuring out the proper balance in how to structure each character’s individual impact when crafting the overall arc of the story was something I was never going to fully nail during writing… So like my dialogue, I wrote way more than I needed, and then weeded out scenes in the edit.
MM: What was it like working with Tony Award-winning-actress Maryann Plunkett?
RP: Maryann is such an open, fearless actress, making my job much much easier as a director. She was up for anything, which is exactly what my process of throwing a lot of material against the wall to see what sticks, necessitates. There was never a moment where she said “no,” and being able to give herself fully over the the moment is something I desperately admire and cherish. I’m entirely grateful for her trust.
MM: DePaul is filled with so many young aspiring filmmakers. Is there anything that you wish you knew in college that you’ve learned throughout your experience? Any other words of advice?
RP: I think I’ve come to the conclusion that waiting on people, whether for their approval, their money, or their help, is something that is completely destructive to any creative endeavor. Those will come in time. It’s better to keep a production small and nimble so that you can take two or three of your most loyal friends and just keep making things on your own, for little money, figuring out what you do well, and honing in on that sensibility. It’s realizing that no one cares and wants to help you until you’ve developed your own voice and start to find some success with it… And the irony is that by that point, you won’t need them because you’ve already established yourself and surrounded yourself with enough like-minded people that actually dig what you’re doing, and who are in it for the right reasons. Also, don’t give up your power and kiss anyone’s butt. It never does any good – stick to your guns, believe in yourself, and just keep the focus on your own work, and then things will start to happen for you without that icky feeling of having to “play the game.”
MM: What can people expect next from you? Any projects in the works?
RP: We are about to go into pre-production on my follow up feature very soon, and I’m kind of in this never ending cycle of developing a TV project with some great people out in Hollywood.
MM: How and when can people access MAD?
RP: It’ll be screening again in Chicago in mid-August. And from there, we’re wrapping up distribution, and the film will be getting a VOD/DVD release sometime in November, I believe. You can watch for updates by liking MAD via facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mutuallyassureddestructionfilm/?fref=ts
For more information on the film, visit http://madfilm2016.com/MAD_PressKit2016.pdf.