Jake Johnson and director Joe Swanberg have a simple formula for their indie dramas: Frame a loose story and let some talented friends come in and act their way around it. Their latest, “Digging for Fire,” involves a married couple (Johnson and Rosemarie DeWitt) using a house-sitting stint in L.A. to have some wild times.
When setting up a story like this, how much of it is plot-driven?
I don’t want to make a movie just about four people sitting in a room talking, but when you make a Joe Swanberg movie, it is a character study. We don’t want to compete with “Jurassic World” with this movie.
Well, you wouldn’t want to hurt your own box office either way.
Right. (laughs) It’s just not going to work. If you’re looking for a movie like that, this one isn’t for you. But if you like movies about characters, we wanted to make a movie that really works in that world.
How much do worry about likability with these characters?
You mean like with the cocaine? I don’t worry too much about likability and if people like somebody or don’t like somebody. I don’t think movies need to be for everybody. If there are people who find these characters despicable, I’m sure in the content world of 2015 there is something else for you. (laughs) I mean, Xbox has a channel now of original content.
You went to Sundance with this. How is it to revisit it several months later?
I didn’t realize how many questions I would get because of the “written by” credit, which is really more of a union thing. I didn’t realize how much when you put a credit on screen is that the focal point [in interviews]. Like producing. The reason I produced it and had the credits I had is because Joe and I also finance these movies. So we just like everything being 50/50 because we’re not good math guys. (laughs) We’re not looking to make a billion dollars off of these movies, but we just want everything clean.
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This film feels fairly unscripted.
That’s right. It’s very naturalistic. We wanted to make a movie that was very about 2015 in Los Angeles, and it felt like everything could be real even though it gets a bit fantastical. We wanted to ground it in a world that felt real to us.
I don’t know that anything in it is necessarily fantastical.
How about making out with Orlando Bloom on a beach?
Well, that’s never happened to me. Yet.
That’s right. Fingers crossed! (laughs)
Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter:@nedrick