Tribeca 2018: Alia Shawkat and Natalie Qasabian on ‘Duck Butter’

During the Tribeca Film Festival, I had the absolute pleasure of speaking with producer Natalie Qasabian and actress/screenwriter Alia Shawkat about “Duck Butter” at the film’s  world premiere red carpet. But, since I am a nervous little turtle who can barely get out of his shell, I will give you the raw transcript of the interviews mixed with my stammering and gifs that reflect my innermost thoughts of specific moments.

Me: So, what made you want to produce this amazing project?

Natalie Qasabian: This wild movie? SO, I work with the Duplass Brothers, who are executive producers on this project, and specifically Mel Eslyn who is also a producer on this movie. And they came to me and said, “We have this wild movie. It’s about two people that decide to spend 24 hours together so there’s going to be a lot of sex, a lot of secrets, and a lot of fun. Would you wanna come and help us make it?” And I said, “Hell yes. Sign me up. This sounds incredible.” Um, and I just love working with Duplass. I love Miguel’s work. So it’s just an honor to be part of the project.

Me: I uuuh… Ummmm… I’m sorry, this is my first time ever doing this.

Natalie Qasabian: Aw, nice. Dude, no worries. This is my first movie as a producer so you’re good.

Me: OH!

Me: So how was it like with this being your first movie as a producer?

Natalie Qasabian: It was very exciting. It was very scary at times. So I have been a co-producer before this on films. This was my first time being a “producer” producer and so I was excited, terrified, anxious, thrilled the whole time. But it was really fun for this to be my first movie because I was working with amazing people. I got to work with incredible actors and a director who has done this many times before. So we had an amazing time.

Me: Since this is a movie coming to Netflix and theaters simultaneously, how does that feel as opposed to going only straight to theaters?

Natalie Qasabian: I think that it’s great. I think that indie films are hard to find in theaters because they are released in selected theaters. I think it’s great people can see at home, y’know, comfy on the couch. I mean, at the end of the day we all just want it to be seen so, that means if someone is watching it at home on their couch, they’re still watching it. So to me it’s a win-win.

Me: What was the most amazing moment you had on set?

Natalie Qasabian: So we decided to shoot a specific portion of the movie in 24 hours. We stayed up and shot for 24 hours.

Me: Wow.

Natalie Qasabian: We had two crews come in but the actors, of course, Miguel, myself, and Mel Eslyn; we all stayed up for 24 hours and we finished that day. Nothing beat that feeling. It was like the greatest high. We just felt so excited that we stayed up and captured these amazing performances in 24 hours like the characters do in the film. So that was a blast.

Me: Thank you so much for your time.

Natalie Qasabian: No worries. Thank YOU. You’re doing great. Don’t be nervous. You’re awesome. Thank You.

Me: Thank you.

*Alia Shawkat approaches*

Me: Hi. I’m Rendy.

Alia Shawkat:  Hey, what’s up?

Me: This is my first time ever doing this.

Alia Shawkat: Oh, no way. How are you doing so far?

Me: I’m fine. Just a bit nervous.

Alia Shawkat: It’s alright.

Me: Since this is your first time writing a feature, how was that like? How was the writing process as a screenwriter as opposed to being an actress?

Alia Shawkat: It was very free. It was inspiring. It takes a lot more work and it feels a lot more personal, but it was really satisfying.

Me: Since Queer cinema is in a great renaissance right now with “Moonlight” and “Call Me By Your Name”, what do you feel that “Duck Butter’ has to contribute with it’s amazing message about relationships?

Alia Shawkat: I think that what I wanted to get with this film was a story about two women but it doesn’t reference the fact of them coming out. It’s not really about the fact that they’re gay; it’s just about two people who are together. This is to kind of normalize the storyline and just get lost with what’s happening between these two people and it’s not about the fact that they’re gay. To eventually get to the point that we can have stories about that without blinking an eye and just be like “Oh, these are two people. I can relate to them no matter what.”

Me: Since the movie is a romantic comedy, but to me it develops to become somewhat of a  thriller by the third act —

Alia Shawkat: Haha, good. I hoped that. That’s what I want.

ME: Haha, how was it to film the entire bathroom sequence?

Alia Shawkat: That was the most most thrilling part of the film. That was my actual house too. So we’re shooting in my bathroom and it was moments that are not as extreme that I’ve gone through, to a certain degree, of escaping intimacy and trying to be alone for a second and catch my breath. So it felt very therapeutic to like, live those out for the first time.

ME: Okay, final question —

Alia Shawkat: You’re doing great, by the way. I like your questions a lot.

Me: Thank you so much.

*stammers as I forget everything*

 

Me: Now I’m giddy. Ahh! I’m in my head!

Alia Shawkat: HA HA OH NO!

*reclaims control*


Me: How was it like filming in LA with different actors playing variations of themselves while you’re playing this character?

Alia Shawkat: Well to a degree, my character is slightly a version of myself. You know, I mean, I wrote it kind of based on some experiences I’ve had. But we were lucky to get some great actors who were friends of ours who came in to play this for a couple of days and it meant a lot because it brings great value to the film, not just monetarily speaking.

Two women, who are dissatisfied with the dishonesty they see in dating and relationships, decide to make a pact to spend 24 hours together hoping to find a new way to create intimacy.

Check out, “Duck Butter” in theaters now. And read our review of the film here!

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