We had the good fortune of connecting with Derek Mari and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Derek, what role has risk played in your life or career?
With years of experience in the entertainment industry, I’ve come around to making opportunities for myself instead of waiting for them to appear. As a writer/director who relatively early in his career, it’s necessary to showcase my abilities in order to receive more creative work in the future. Every new project requires a level of risk. It’s a leap of faith to put time, money, energy, and other resources into creating a film that I hope others will love just as much as I do. Independently producing a project challenges me to convey a vision comprehensively to a passionate team of individuals who are similarly fueled by a pure love of the craft. I’m always proud of the result and the initial anxiety/excitement of the risk is always worth it.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a writer and director who’s fascinated with “finding the funny” in a tragic situation. My screenplays are often set in dramatic settings and the humor comes from absurd character perspectives, conflicting personalities, and the comedy in their dialogue. I’ve always been attracted to this style as one of the most cathartic film experiences. Laughing and crying are the two most extreme emotional responses. If a filmmaker can produce a see-saw-like experience between the two emotions for the viewer, then…. *chef’s kiss*. I’m, of course, influenced by the legends of the specific genre including Judd Apatow, David O. Russell, and the Coen brothers.
Currently, the project I’m most excited about is my directorial feature debut, “Crohnie.” It’s a heartfelt comedy about identity, family, and Crohn’s disease. In 2019, I wrote/directed a proof-of-concept short film that performed well in festivals. Now, we’re in the development/crowdfunding phase for the full-length feature film with the goal of shooting it in the fall of 2021. The journey of making this dream a reality has been so inspiring. I’ve had the chance to connect with the Crohn’s & Colitis community to hear personal stories from people living with an invisible illness. This film aims to bring levity, humor, and awareness to an underrepresented community.
We are currently crowdfunding to raise our total budget. You can learn more about the project on our campaign page: www.wefunder.com/crohnie and you can follow us on social media @CrohnieMovie
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to enjoy the touristy activities that Los Angeles has to offer… But, I always enjoy inviting friends to a live comedy show, whether that’s at UCB, the Largo, the Improv, or wherever, it’s usually a good time. Dinner and drinks at Santa Monica’s third street promenade is a nice little treat as well! And then ending the day watching the sunset at the beach is a grade-A cliché Los Angeles experience that a visitor absolutely needs. Does this sound boring? I truly don’t know anymore. My COVID answer would be “order takeout and watch WandaVision.” Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Is it silly to shout-out the UCB Theatre? Years of classes, performances, workshops, and community events at the Upright Citizens Brigade helped me evolve into the confident creative that I am today. I developed a whole community of artists and comedians through the theatre and am so grateful for all of the connections I’ve made. I’ll specifically shout out Matt Besser and Pam Murphy who took a leap of faith by agreeing to star in my short film “Crohnie.” Their participation and collaboration helped me immensely as a filmmaker and I’m very grateful.
Other: Crohnie WeFunder: www.wefunder.com/crohnie