Dan Mirvish Interview – SB Originals

Dan Mirvish is a director, screenwriter, author, and producer. He is presently in post-production on the brand-new feature of his, 18½, a 70s Watergate thriller/dark comedy.

Before that, he directed the award-winning Bernard and Huey (critically acclaimed), penned down by Oscar/Pulitzer winner Jules Feiffer, as well as starring Oscar winner Jim Rash and David Koechner that screened in more than thirty film festivals on five continents and also had a 20 city US theatrical release, as well as has sold to more than 49 states.

Here’s Some of Our Conversation with Dan Mirvish

Hi Guys! This is Mohid Moosani from ScreenBinge.com and today we have Dan Mirvish with us. He’s an author, a filmmaker, producer as well and he has quite an interest in politics. Welcome, Dan!

Dan Mirvish: Hey, thanks for inviting me ScreenBinge! Well, I’ve written two guides about how to enter into Hollywood… one of them was written in 2016 the other was in 2019… but I held it to incorporate how to continue work in Hollywood during a pandemic. I just completed the second it’s coming out on July 6th.

How did you come up with this beautiful name “The Cheerful Subversive Guide to Independent Filmmaking?

Dan Mirvish: Well, that was a description that the New York Times gave to myself and my colleagues when we started the Slamdance film festival in 1995. All these cheerful subversives and that’s kind of always been my approach to making films is that you know you have to subvert the rules because if you just follow the rules, you’ll never get started or you’ll never finish.

dan mirvish book

But you have to be happy about it the whole time and… enjoy the process of making films, and getting these films out there and finding an audience, which too is not easy!

So, you completed the entire guide like…you put out the first version then, the second version right, would you tell us a little about the second version?

Dan Mirvish: So this one includes… how to shoot during a pandemic, because my newest film, we shot most of it during the pandemic one way or another. And everything else has just been updated since, and because I think even post-pandemic a lot of the rules for how to conduct yourself on set are going to still stay in place.

dan mirvish guide to filmaking

I think part of it is I started to write articles for like… Filmmaker Magazine and Variety and places like that, about the process that I was going through. Because I get so many calls from other filmmakers asking for advice and I was like okay well let me put this into an article.

And then I had enough articles I was like oh let me put it into a book and share the knowledge that I have. Yeah, and I just like to share the knowledge that I’ve picked up along the way about how to make specifically low-budget independent films.

Yeah, you do have like more than 30 movies under your belt which is great! So, of course, you do have immense experience.

Dan Mirvish: Well, I think it’s only about half a dozen that I really directed but… yeah, I’ve helped out in some sort of a part in them. So, all of that adds up! Yeah, seriously it’s surprising and very impressive.

Your latest movie was “Animation Outlaws,” what’s that about? And how did that concept come to you?

Dan Mirvish: Umm…well, I’m just a cameo in that. It’s uh…a documentary about my friend spike from… Spike and Mike’s animation and they’ve done screenings at Slamdance at the festival.

animation outlaws dan mirvish

So, I think there’s a scene in there where I’m introducing a screening of his film so that’s my entire part and then we actually showed the film at the festival last year so that was that.

What about “Open House”, that seems fun … how was your experience with it?

Dan Mirvish: Yeah, thanks so that one was a real estate musical that we shot in 2004 uh with Ali Kellerman who’s an Oscar nominee, and uh…and Anthony Rapp, and um and it was a very low-budget film we shot it for like forty thousand dollars.

All including post-production…but then the interesting thing was…it’s a long story but we were eligible for an Oscar for a best original musical category that they’ve had on the books but had never activated.

But we needed five movies, they would only activate the category if there were five films eligible and there were four films that year including our own film. So, then along with a couple of friends, we went off and we made a fifth film just to fill out the category.

We shot it in Germany and but the trick was to not make it too good because then it would take votes away from Open House so we actually had nine days to make a bad German musical.

So, that was fun and they actually changed the rules of the Oscars because of our movies.

That’s cool, so where does your interest in politics come from?

i am martin eisentadt

Dan Mirvish: Well, I majored in Political Science in college. I went to a college that didn’t have a film program. So, I was like all right I’ll do political science and then after college, I  worked in Washington DC as a Speechwriter for a senator for a couple of years.

Dan is also the writer of the bestselling nonfiction book “The Cheerful Subversive’s Guide to Independent Filmmaking from Focal Press/Routledge”, with a 2nd Edition coming July 6th, 2021, that incorporates how to do the movie business during a pandemic.

Dan was mentored by Robert Altman on the very first movie of his, Omaha (the movie), which led him to co-found the Slamdance Film Festival.

Check out Dan’s complete interview in the beginning! He’s wise and has got quite a few Gems to spill!

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Mohid Moosani

Moosani is a night owl who is either binge watching his favorite shows or scribbling on his notebook writing short stories. Often showing up late at work and gulping down 6-7 cups of coffee is his usual practice.

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