Brow Beat

Joe Swanberg on How Working With Bigger Names Has Changed (and Not Changed) His Movies

Joe Swanberg collaborators Melanie Lynskey, Mark Webber, and Anna Kendrick
Actors Melanie Lynskey, Mark Webber, and Anna Kendrick with director Joe Swanberg at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Check out all Slate’s interviews from the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

Over the last decade, Joe Swanberg has graduated from making small movies with friends to making slightly less small movies with names like Anna Kendrick, Jake Johnson, Ron Livingston, and Melanie Lynskey. But for his new movie Digging for Fire, he assembled by far his biggest cast yet—one of the most impressive at Sundance: In addition to collaborating once again with Johnson, Kendrick, and Livingston (Drinking Buddies) and Lynskey (Happy Christmas), Swanberg cast Rosemarie Dewitt, Sam Rockwell, Jenny Slate, Mike Birbiglia, Orlando Bloom, Brie Larson, Sam Elliott, Judith Light, and Chris Messina.

We sat down with Swanberg at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where Digging for Fire premiered to raves, and we asked him how working with such a starry cast affected his famously stripped-down and improvisational style of filmmaking.

Slate Sessions video edited by Anne Marie Lindemann. Interview booked by Raquel Bruno. Executive produced by Ayana Morali.