CM: But how did you pick up on it so fast?
DM: I didn’t necessarily pick up on it that fast. I was working on it a good year before we started production—over a year, actually. I practiced rapping so much—just trying out different songs, different styles, finding out what I was best at and then what I wasn’t necessarily great at.
CM: Have you ever heard Geremy rap?
DM: Yeah, he would record all the songs, and I would listen to them. He would always put down a tape for me so I could see how the rhythm goes. Trust me, none of that was me. That was all Geremy. It was me rapping, but he did all the music.
CM: He’s the only person that’s touched the music in this movie?
DM: Well, all the original music, yeah. Being in the studio with him is incredible because he’s a creative genius at work. He sits in the corner, and he’s usually still writing lyrics while we’re in the studio. Then he puts it down [on tape] once. He does it instantly because he knows it in his head. Then he listens to it a few times, and then I’ll put it down. If he asked me to do that when we first started, I would’ve been like, “I need three weeks with this song.”
CM: Were you able to read off the piece of paper?
DM: Yeah, oh of course.
CM: You weren’t reading off a piece of paper when we were filming. I don’t know how the heck you did that.
DM: But in the studio, they’re not filming me so it was great. Some of the songs we prerecorded, so it was a lot less scary because if it sucks we’ve got another version. But the live stuff was scary.
CM: You kind of have to let your guard down and just trust yourself, which is hard to do with 100 people standing around you.
DM: So much of it is confidence.
“I always felt comfortable being uncomfortable.
When you feel safe and secure
with other actors, with the director and
the producers, it creates this incredible vibrancy,
and something amazing happens.”
— Danielle Macdonald
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, the Sundance Institute’s Lab Program fosters the budding independent film movement by providing resources and space for self-expression and creative community. Hosted at the Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah, labs include a Screenwriters Lab, Directors Lab, an Editing Intensive Lab and a Creative Producing Lab & Fellowship program.
CM: How did you get into Sundance and get involved with Geremy? I know about the Sundance Labs. How did the whole thing get started?
DM: It all started with Noah, one of our young producers. He wasn’t even a producer on the project yet because he was young. He had seen me do a movie called Aced, and showed my film to Geremy like, “This girl looks like what you described to me.”
CM: Explain to me what kind of commitment it is to go the Sundance Labs.
DM: They fly you up there to Sundance Mountain, which is maybe a half hour away from Park City, and it’s this beautiful oasis. It’s summertime and so far up in the mountains, so it’s the perfect weather. They put us up in these amazing houses in the hills. Everyday, everyone has breakfast, lunch and dinner together. It was exactly like camp. Everyone had so much fun. Honestly, it was one of the best things.
CM: And how long was it?
DM: I was there for almost four weeks. But I’d already been in contact with Geremy for ages at that point. Like we were already trying to make Patti Cake$ happen.
CM: You guys went through the whole entire process—
DM: For three years now.
CM: I’ve done 50 movies or so, and the experience on this movie is different than any other. I don’t know if it was the relationships between everybody or the material. I’m still trying to figure it out. It was just magical.
DM: I’ve never been a part of a film from the inception before. I think it was so magical because we really figured it out together.
CM: Step by step, kind of.
DM: The story came together day by day. I’ve never put so much of myself into something. The role was so different from myself that it required me to do so much more.
CM: First of all, you’re from Australia, and you have to nail a New Jersey accent. I don’t know how you did it. I couldn’t help you with that because I have a New York accent, and it’s completely different. Nobody was from Jersey except Geremy.
DM: And he doesn’t have an accent.
CM: What’s up with that?