Director Marielle Heller On Mister Rogers & Telling Kids The Truth
Support for NPR. And the following message come from comcast through Internet essentials comcast has connected more than eight million people from low income households to high speed Internet most for the first time more at comcast corporation dot com slash Internet essentials from whyy in Philadelphia. I'm Terry Gross with fresh air. Today we talk with Mario Heller director of the new film. A Beautiful Day in the neighborhood starring Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers and Matthew unreas- as a cynical journalist assigned to profile him in preparation for the film Heller watched a lot of mister rogers. I had this really painful experience of watching the episode about death with my three year old at the time. She's trying to make changes in the film industry to make it easier for women who are parents parents and for all parents to work without sacrificing their family life. It was something that I started talking about really early because I said you know. I don't think Fred Rogers would want us to make a movie about him where we all abandon our kids in order to make. Yeah so how do we do this. Heller also directed. Can you ever forgive me. I'm too old to have grown up watching Mister Rogers neighborhood but I love the new film a Beautiful Day in the neighborhood starring. Tom Hanks as Fred. Ed Rogers my guest is the film's director Mario Heller. She also directed one of my favorite films from last year. Can you ever forgive me. She previously joined us has to talk about her first film. The diary of a teenage girl. The new film is inspired by the story of Rogers relationship with journalists. Tom Gino who who was assigned to profile Rogers in nineteen ninety eight for a special issue of esquire. un-american Heroes Juno says the assigning editor thought it would be amusing going to have him a journalist determined to say the unsaleable right about the nicest men in the world but talking with Rogers Changed Juneau's life should know wrote a new essay about his relationship with Rogers published in the Atlantic to coincide with the film's release. He writes along time ago. A man of resourceful and relentless winless kindness saw something in me that I didn't see in myself. He trusted me. When I thought I was untrustworthy and took an interest in me that went beyond my initial interest in him? He was the first person I ever wrote about who became my friend and our friendship endured until he died in the movie. Tom Gino's name name is changed to Lloyd Vogel. His personal story is changed to. Let's hear a scene from the film in which Lloyd is interviewing. Rogers Lord has a bloody cut in a bruise on his face which he told Rogers he got from a softball game but he really got it at his sister's wedding when he got into a fight with his estranged father. Other this Peace will be an issue about heroes. Do you consider yourself a hero. I don't think of myself as a hero. No not at all Mister Rogers. Is he a hero. I don't understand the question. Well there's you Fred I am. There's the character you play. Mr Rogers said it was a play at the plate. Is that is that that will happen to you. I'm here in to you Mr Rogers. That is what we're doing isn't it. Marielle Heller welcome to fresh air. Congratulations on the film. Thank you What what did you do to help Tom? Hanks embody Mr Rogers in the movie. I mean the positive thing going into this was obviously the the the way the public feels about Tom. Hanks has a similar quality to how we feel about Mr Rogers so there was a warmth that we were starting with there. Were so much that was already done there but the truth of the matter is tom is very different person energetically than than Mister Rogers. He's very he's very funny. He's very charming. He's actually got like a loud booming voice and walks into a room. And you know he's there he shakes everyone's hand. He cracks jokes. He's he's boisterous he's really vibrant and Um he doesn't really. It's never awkward when you're talking to Tom Hanks I've I've never seen him have an awkward conversation with anybody and what we figured out in. Our research about Fred was that he really was comfortable sitting in silence and awkwardness awkwardness and he would ask questions to people and he would wait for an answer. No matter how long it took and he wouldn't fill that silence in And he had a stillness business to him too. So a lot of what I had to do. especially in the beginning was to kind of rain. Tom's natural buoyancy back and settle him into a kind of Zen. Like state where he was being hyper present. In every moment I know on the radio like a pause can be a very very kind of dramatic thing when you hear like. Oh somebody's thinking or somebody's mad or you know but but if the goes on too long everybody just gets uncomfortable. Well so how did you deal without making the movie like you wanted pauses. You want slowness but if it's too much of any of that it's just uncomfortable so for everybody in the audience. I mean Fred had a very specific cadence. I don't think anybody could of watched his show and not noticed that he. He spoke at a different pace ace than the rest of the world. And we heard from a number of people that when you would be with Fred it felt like time would slow down a he kind of controlled time in a way and Part of the casting of Matthew Reese was I wanted to cast somebody who had a very different pace. You know it was about these two men who were sort of have foils to each other coming together and having these sort of emotional duels So I met you is also. He's somebody who moves very quickly. His mind is always racing. And he's got a lot of energy pulsing through his body so the idea was in our rehearsals and also in the way that we shot these scenes means between these two men it was about really kind of controlling time when there were pauses. They were carefully crafted. It was really I. I had to kind of force them to pause even longer than they were comfortable pausing but it was also about what's happening those pauses. What what are the emotional back and forth? That are happening. What was just penetrated? What memory is being triggered? What are you thinking about in that moment and when will you respond? How carefully will you respond and as an impulsive response or is it a very thoughtful response So we worked a lot on pacing. And only now that I'm doing all of these press junkets with all of of my actors and my hearing about how how slightly tortured. They felt by time that apparently I was like. We're going slower guys here. We go and they were are going really slower. That felt so slow. What you're describing is the opposite of what's depicted in the movie on the set of Mister Rogers neighborhood because on the set that there are producers Who are thinking like come on like moving along apparently hard? Yeah yes he he was always running behind. You was always talking to people for hours at a time. It was really hard to move them through a crowd. People tell you that yeah we. We were so lucky when we made this movie because we we. We went to Pittsburgh where Fred made the show and lived for his whole life and we we were welcomed by his wife Jo. uh-huh an bill leisler all of the people who worked at the Fred Rogers Company. All these people who knew Fred really well and they after after getting to know US entrusting entrusting us they really shared with us millions of stories about Fred and the painted a kind of complete picture of him in one of the things was yes he was Ya. Ah Yeah. He worked on his own. He had his own timetable in all things and he was very difficult to wrangle and they were often very behind in shooting the show and he would talk to everybody and he was. It sounded like pretty impossible in certain ways. I'm not a big fan of bio-pics because usually the writers director take a lot of liberties for dramatic purposes. And then you leave the movie not knowing the difference between history and fiction and then the fiction is often confused with WHO. The person really was what you get around that in the opening and into really lovely ways You know the framing device is that it's an addition of Mister Rogers neighborhood and he's telling all the children look it's A. It's a picture board and on the picture aboard. There's a lot of different doors and each door opens to another character. WHO's from Mister Rogers neighborhood and we opens each door and introduces each character from the neighborhood and in the last or that opens is a picture and he says this is a picture of my? I friend Lloyd and this is a picture of somebody who's like his face is bloodied his ruse. He's got a big cut. He looks angry and miserable. And that's the introduction to the main character the journalist Lloyd and you realize this is going to be. The story told through the lens of Mister Rogers neighborhood. This is an actual story literally true. This is if if this journalist life happens in Mister Rogers neighborhood yes here make it very clear from the very beginning. There's no chance you could confuse this for being documentary or any in any way. It's it's a story that we're telling and it's It's a film and it has fairy clear kind of surrealistic device to it. which was that? The whole movie is one large episode of Mister Rogers for adults and in the way that Mister Rogers neighborhood hood would tell you what it was going to be about and then kind of take you on a journey. We do that. And when he steps out of the door and we head out into the world to kind of check. Check out this story about this person named Lloyd but I I love things that don't tell stories in purely linear fashions that either skip around in time or skip around and with their storytelling. And this does that it plays with time there. You know you've cut to this picture of him and you see that he's his face is bloodied and then we go back in time and when when we meet him. His face isn't bloodied. And we we get to see how his face became bloodied than we You know I think we become a little bit safe sometimes in our cinema whereas in theater. Were kind of more comfortable with less naturalistic ways of telling stories. And I like movies that kind of pushed those boundaries a bit and the other way that you make a clear of this is the story as if it happened. Mister Rogers neighborhood is in the opening credits. We're seeing the city of Pittsburgh where Fred Fred. Rogers shot Mister Rogers neighborhood. But it's all in miniaturised if it was part of the set of mistress neighborhood and I I just thought that that was such a a really lovely thing to do and also very important in framing. The whole story is this is in the context of Mister Rogers neighborhood. NAARDEN real live right. We we sort of used the the miniatures that they used on the show As jumping off point and then thought but what if it went even further. What if you expanded that out? What if we after you see the little miniature neighborhood that you've seen hundreds of times on the program what if you widened out and use all Pittsburgh and then you hand over and you came to New York City? And that's how we got into Loyd story and that's probably if Mr Rogers had made a movie for adults that's how he would have done it so let's figure out if we could do it so I want to ask you about one of the scenes in the movie that borrows from what happened in real life. Although it it happens in a different way in the movie in in real life Fred Rogers was receiving an award a lifetime achievement award from the TV Critics Association And while he was up at the podium accepting the award he said let's pause for sixty seconds and remember those people who loved us into being who we your head because I think he asked for sixty seconds and from what I've heard they they would only grant him ten and I was thinking two things two contradictory things about them. One is what I really like lovely and thoughtful thing to do making it about you know instead of like praising me the award winner think about people who made you who you are and honor them but at the same time I was also thinking of I was was in the audience I bet I would have resisted. I Bet I would have felt like well. It's presumptuous of you to tell me that now is my time to be thinking about somebody you know what you look around they they they do cut always in the audience that clip. And there's this wave that you know it's this moment where everyone singing about their ego. Everybody's there to win awards everybody's in some kind of a rat race to like win award over another artist right and He just reminds them to think about the people who supported boarded them along the way. And you watch tears. FILL UP IN PEOPLE'S IS I mean it's incredibly touching and he fred was this is a bit of a i. Don't want to call call it a party trick but fred did that. That was something. He did At events but he also did it at dinner parties where he would ask people to take take time to think about that so it was something that he was sort of known for and it is something that we we have in the movie and a very specific way and I think it's yeah. It's one of the most cinematic moments of the movie in a Lotta ways. Did you watch Mister Rogers neighborhood as a child I did so. So is there anything that he said or did that. You remember from your childhood. I have very clear. Memories of loving loving the part of the show that was in his house and then feeling scared of some of the puppets in the land of make believe and I think particularly lady Elaine Fine What scared you about her? While she looks like a witch she's got like this burnt nose and burnt cheekbones and and she had this scratchy voice and I she was terrifying. I think she was terrifying for a lot of kids. And you know I've I've rediscovered over the show now as a parent. I've had a very different perspective on it. Now that I'm a parent and I can watch it with my kid and we also the first way we really came to it with Daniel. Tiger's hikers neighborhood which is the the modern day incarnation of Mister Rogers neighborhood that the Fred Rogers Company makes and it's all based on the teachings of Fred Rogers but it's an animated show And that show has just been the most incredible thing for my kid and for me and he's now at the point where he's rejected it and it's kind of outgrowing it but But it's just been it's it's been the thing that's kind of that. I was reconnecting to before I even was signed onto this project. That was the first show. I let my kid watch WJR and It kind of got me back in touch with Mister Rogers from a different adult perspective. Tell me more about that adult perspective on the show. I I think I have a memory of thinking that the show was just all happier. Go lucky or something or just easy and then as an adult looking back. I realized that he wasn't afraid of any of the hardest parts of childhood or talking about the most uncomfortable. Things he tells kids. It's the truth. I mean that that is a radical notion but he tells kids the truth and I was blown away going back and seen the topics that he was covering on his show. I mean I had this really painful experience of watching the episode about death with my three year old at the time which it's kind of it was such a profound experience. We're we're having a snow day. And so he was home from school but it was a day that I kind of set aside that I was going to watch a lot of episodes Mr Rogers so I asked Wiley if he wanted to watch some episodes with me and I let them pick out based on the kind of thumbnails on on the Internet and he picked the fish one because he's very obsessed with underwater stuff's ocean stuff But I knew just looking at the icon. They'll superfish one. This is the episode about death and I thought Oh. Are we go here okay. And so in the episode Mr Rogers goes to feed the fish and one of the fish is dead and he tries to revive it and he puts it in some saltwater and he slashes at around and it Kinda limply sloshes around and he says Oh. It looks like it's moving but it's not actually moving. And then he buries the fish and And he tells the story about his dog Mitzi who died when he was a kid and I just watched my kid did. Watch this episode knowing that we hadn't spoken really very much about death and as Mr Rogers is telling telling the story about the dog dying. Why looks at me with this kind of skeptical look and goes togs? Don't die I and I had this like Mister Rogers in my head and went. Well no dogs do die And I told I guess. What's a little bit of a stretch of the truth but I said you know when they're when they're very old and their bodies are tired you know dogs do Diane and cats die and we have two cats and he looked at me and went cats? Cats die and I I said yeah and he said but we have great cats and I thought Oh God what if I opened here and And then I pulled out a picture of one of our cats who had passed away when he was a baby and I said you remember. I've told you about this cat who died. WHO's buried in the backyard? And you know I believe believe everyone believes different things but I believe when I wanNA visit him. I I can go to the cherry tree in the backyard and and I can visit him And and I could see kind of wheels turning wheels turning and we kept watching the show for a few minutes and then while he turned to me and he goes mom. Walruses don't die and I said well walruses do die and he started wailing in a way that I had never experienced before he like it felt like he was weeping for all humanity or like the entire tire universe and just asking me if we could bury all the walruses in our backyard so we could visit them and I held held him and I was crying and we and all I could figure out to say was I know this hurts. I know this is so oh painful. I don't know what to say but this this really hurts and And then later that night as I was putting him to bed You know the dreaded question came which was what what about people You know people don't get the way he said it was the people don't get dead do they. And then we had our kind of second round of weeping that happened in that came out of this episode of Rogers and I don't think I handled it great and I sort of felt I still feel guilty for how this all came up because I felt like. Was it too young for us to kind of go there but I also felt like all I had to guide me. Was Fred telling me you know we. We let the kids guide these conversations. Listen and tell them the truth and so. That's what I tried to do this. It's amazing story. I'm just trying to figure out what I want so it. It was also one of the first stories that I told Joanne Rodgers. When I went to Pittsburgh I'm just remember I? What are you say? I haven't told the story at all in any of our press but I think we sat in her living room and she teared up and we kind of held hands. I talked about it because it had just happened when I talked to her about about it. and then she made a little video for Wiley Not about that but just saying hello. My guest is Mario Heller Taylor director of the new film a Beautiful Day in the neighborhood. She also directed. Can you ever forgive me. And the diary of a teenage girl after a break. We'll talk about how she learned about death. I'm Terry Gross and this is fresh air. This message comes from. NPR sponsor Goldman Sachs for insights from leading thinkers at Goldman Sax on the State of Markets Industries and the global economy listened to their podcast exchanges at Goldman Sachs. You'll hear a range of topics discussed from the tech. IPO Oh landscape to China's economic outlook and much more that's exchanges at Goldman Sachs available and apple podcasts spotify stitcher soundcloud and Google play aimed gs dot com slash podcast. Let's get back to my interview with Mario who directed the new movie a Beautiful Day in the neighborhood starring. Tom Thanks as Fred. Rogers and Matthew Reese as a journalist assigned to profile him for Esquire magazine. When we left off Heller just told the story of how she and her three-year-old year-old son had watched an episode of Mister Rogers neighborhood that dealt with death which was an upsetting idea for her son who had never heard about death before? Do you remember how you learned about. I remember my grandmother's husband dying but I think I was older. I think it it was seven or eight when he died but I remember that being the first real person I knew who tied and I am that my parents didn't let me go to the funeral. I remember feeling like it was really unfair. You wanted to go I wanted to go. I don't i. I thought I wasn't like I felt and I think about sort of Mister Rogers in that way of like I I felt like a full person. Didn't you know I felt like I was having as big of an experience as everybody else. And why wasn't I allowed to go to the funeral. And I think they were trying to protect me Was it upsetting for you to learn that such a thing existed stuff. Oh Yeah Yeah I mean I. Yeah I was one of those kids who thought about death a lot and we had we had the big earthquake in the bay area eighty nine. How old are you then? Ten But that really it scared me in like a deep dark way you know it really shook my sense of what what could happen in the world. It was just the first. My my brother was trapped in a warehouse and we couldn't get to him and Oakland across a bridge and we didn't you know if he was okay and you know friends of mine. Their parents were in San Francisco Bay Bridge at glimpsed and we didn't know if they were okay and there are people people who are part of our community who died and it was just so chaotic. It was just the end of the world. It felt like the end of the world at the time it really really did. And it it definitely You know it was it. It's still something that has meant. You now meant something in my bigger emotional life that I'm still dealing with therapy and you know I think back myself as a kid and I'm like I and I see it in my kid. I think that's why the experience of showing him that episode was so I felt for him so much. Because I I remember what it was to be. The kid who was thinking about the kind of dark questions of life and while other people weren't But now you know I had this experience when I was preparing to make this movie before I went to Pittsburgh. I went to a talk at the Buddhist centre in Brooklyn and I think I had this idea in a little. I really know about Buddhism. Are Buddha where I was thinking that somehow if you are very enlightened and that you're very peaceful that you're you're at peace you're sort of happy and this woman who was giving this talk said The goal of Buddhism is not pure peace or to to never feel any pain. The goal is to feel all the pain And that made me think about Fred at that time because all all of the things we were hearing in the research about Fred was that he would empathize such a great degree with the people he came into contact with. He would meet a stranger on the street and they would pour their heart out to him about what they were going through and he would almost hold it like a vessel like he eh. He just became this great vessel for other people too poor what they were experiencing into an and And I think he felt it all he was he was present in the pain of the world and not denying it and he grew up with a lot of illness. I I mean who has. A sick child often isolated. That's how we started doing voices like forces whereas puppets right he was. His parents were so nervous that he was going to be kidnapped. They had them chauffeured to school so that he was even more isolated from his friends. Oh yeah and I think he was in his own in his own head a lot in that way eh. But I think he also was very He spent the rest of his life therefore trying to be super connected to other people rather than being so separated from them. I WANNA play one of Mr Rodgers songs that you use in the film. I I particularly like this one it it it's called. What do you do with the mad that you feel? Yeah and it's awesome. It's a song all about learning to control yourself on your emotions. Get Out of hand and I think this is a song that most of US adults should learn by heart too so so this is the real Fred Rogers. Singing it Here we go. What do you do with the mad that you feel when you feel so magic to bite when the whole wide world seems Oh so wrong and nothing you do seems very right right? What do you do bag down play or some around friends? Wins for a game of tag and see how fast to go. It's great to be able to stop when you blanda thing that's wrong and be able to do something else instead and think this song they can stop when I want to can stop one. I wish stop stop. Stop anytime and what a good the three linked to feel like this. No that the feeling is that. There's something deep inside us. Become what we can or a bureau can be someday a woman and boy you and the man. Okay those Mr Rogers Do you play these songs for your son. I do that one. I played for my kid all the time. That song sorta became like our thesis for the whole movie. How this idea that? So many of us don't actually have practical ways to cope with our feelings and You know it was a song he quoted when he did that famous Hearing in front of the Senate where he got money for PBS but also it was was a song that we put in the movies specifically because it felt like it was telling the story that we were trying to hit on with this movie which is about this grown man who really really hasn't figured out his own coping as he can't he hasn't figured out what to do with his own mad and And what does that mean. What what type of a man is he? Then let's take a short break here and then there'll be plenty more to talk about if you're just joining us. My guest as Marielle Heller. She directed the new film a Beautiful Day in the neighborhood. And we'll be right back. This is fresh air this message comes from. NPR sponsor capital one with capital one. A new savings account earns five times times the national average. That's five times more savings toward that overdue. Home addition or maybe even an addition on that edition capital. One is helping. Um You earn more towards your savings goals. This is banking reimagined. What's in your Wallet Capital One? NA member FDIC. I know you have the best intentions you want. Keep up with the impeachment hearings but maybe you have a job. There will be hours of testimony from witnesses impeachment inquiry sorry this week and the NPR politics podcast will be there every afternoon to keep you up to date on all the key moments. Listen daily my guest. Is Mario Heller. She she directed the new film a Beautiful Day in the neighborhood. So the movie is in memory of Jim 'em solar Who died in a freak accident during the shooting? Could Juckes plane would happen. I don't think we'll ever totally know what happened is the truth but We were filming the movie. And and Chen was our sound person and A very beloved member of the Pittsburgh Film Community and somebody who had worked with a lot of members of our crew for thirty years yes and We had a little part. We were filming in a new location that we hadn't been on. That was a apartment building outside of town and and there was Our main apartment where we were filming and there was another apartment next door that was we were using for holding that. We hadn't seen gene ahead of time. That had sort of been like building told us. Well whatever we have available on the day to kind of have your spillover people in we'll give you and this was an empty apartment and it had a balcony any that we we discovered partway through and So pretty much everyone who were smokers on the movie were going out there all day and using this balcony. That had a pretty low railing. It was an old old building that probably had older codes and so it had been built a long time ago and all all we know is that when we called cut and we were setting up some lights we heard something and Jim had gone out there for a cigarette and fell and spend it was. I mean it was the hardest thing I've ever experienced any any possible shoot ever I mean just just so sad what do you do after that. There's no protocol protocol for what to do. That was the thing that was so hard. I mean we obviously first thing was getting him to the hospital and trying to you. Know Everybody starts packing equipment because you have to do. But we're just all standing there crying trying to figure out what's happening not knowing what's happened and then then And then we gathered the producers and I and the cinematographer regathered the next morning. Well that night we all were together and In the hospital and and and he died and so we were all in shock and then you know so the next morning. We both called Sony and we were talking to everybody and there was no set protocol. There was no sense of okay when this type nothing happens on set. This is what you do and we looked at each other as the leaders of this project but we looked at each other as a few things we said. We're the leaders of this project. Everyone's looking into us to know what to do. But we're also guests here in Pittsburgh we are. We've been welcomed as part of their film community and Jim was part of their community and and we are sort of the visitors so we decided that the best thing we can do is listen so we called everybody on the crew we had obviously taken that day Off The next day and we we kind of broke up the crew into our different divisions and we each called people to kind of listen and hear how people were doing and to hear what people people wanted to do. Did they want to gather. Did they want to Come together as a group. What did they WANNA do? And there was already sort of a vigil gathering gathering that was happening in an impromptu way. So we all came together including Tom and Matthew on me and all the producers and we we all just I mean all I can say as we. We helped each other. We cried together wailed we didn't know if he had had a heart attack. We didn't know why he had fallen. I mean we were all sort of reeling from the news and trying to figure it out and we And we tried to listen to the crew. Do you know we essentially said if you don't WanNa come back we understand. We had a week left I think I I spoke to everybody and I essentially said you know. I know that we tend to have this like show must go on quality to show business. But we're here making a movie about Fred Rogers. This is not a place where you know where you're not allowed to cry where we're here to feel what we're feeling and you get to feel what you're feeling so I want you to be able to be honest. I with us. And if you don't WanNa come back if you feel like this is too much that is okay and essentially everybody said Jim would want us to keep going and and we need to finish. Just this movie I felt very inspired by our crew. I felt so touched by the way that this horrific event in some way brought everyone together in an even tighter way we were so close to begin with and this horrible tragedy that happened. It was like everybody linked arms and just cared for each other in the sweetest way. I can possibly imagine when we came back to work after many days it was like everybody was taking the time to look at each other's eyes and hug each other and be present with each other and we tried to take the lessons of Fred and use them in this moment of tragedy. It was this weird moment of the the. The Lessons of the movie needs to be used at the exact moment that we were making the movie. Well thank you for talking about a chapter of the film. Let him I know is really horrible for you but thank you for talking about it So I read that when you were making a beautiful day in the neighborhood you kept the shooting to a limited number of hours a day. Yeah so that people like you get home and you know. Put their kids to bed or spend some time with family So can you ever forgive me. Your previous film came out last year And what's the difference in age in the age that your son was between so we're not a new one and also what did you learn from making your first film about what you needed in your life and in your family's life in order to keep doing this and not feeling like you were a neglectful mother. When I was making Daniel ever forgive me I think it was too and I would leave in the morning. When he was asleep? I would get home and he would be asleep. And even though I was shooting in New York City where we live I felt like I I was just gone and it was really hard. It was really really hard on all of us It was hard on my husband. It was hard on Wiley and it was hard on me and I felt over the course of the next year. People were constantly asking me questions about like. How can we have more women directors? Why why is it so hard for women to direct movies like what do we need and oh I thought well one of the things we need to stop pretending is not true as a lot of us are moms and how do we make it more sustainable for those of us? Who are parents to do this job? It's it's really really hard not to mention the fact that there were a number of stories about crew members dying after eighteen twenty hour days driving home long hours you know I just started to think like this is a pretty unsustainable life that we choose to live and production particularly is really insane. There's the sense of that. You have to kind of kill yourself in order to do this job. Well and Melissa McCarthy was the one who actually said to me. Have you ever shopped French hours. which we we call them French hours but it's not what they do in France? I've been censored in France. They take like for our lunches with wine. I guess but The idea behind French ours is that instead of doing a twelve twelve and a half or thirteen hour day with a lunch break in the middle. You do a ten hour straight day. Everyone kind of eats food throughout the day. Anyway on a set. Nobody's going hungry on a film set But you work straight through and then you're done and for me. It was the difference between getting home to put my kids better. Not So it was you know seven to five or eight two six. It was Most days out of the week and we didn't do it every day of the filming but we did a large majority of the days. There are certain days when you have like a big move or the schedule just makes it impossible to do that. You really need the longer day but a lot of days we found it to be just as efficient if we were in the same location. Not taking a break in the middle of the day shooting less hours. But you don't have this kind of dip momentum that happens when you take a lunch. I found it to be just as efficient And so it was something that I started talking about really really early because I said you know. I don't think Fred Rogers would want would want us to make a movie about him where we all abandoned our kids in order to make so. How do we we do this? How do we find a way to do this and I was just lucky that everybody who worked on this movie was really game for this idea. Pretty much everybody involved volved had little kids or kids or remember what it was like when their kids were little and a lot of us had kids under five and so figuring out a way to make that happen became a huge priority already for me and And it worked great and you know. I found that the actors loved it to Chris. Cooper particularly said to me you know I hate taking lunch on a on a when we're in the middle of seen hate breaking the momentum. I don't go like going often eating big plate of potatoes come back and I feel like I don't remember how I was feeling or I I can't remember my lines. It just I. I don't eat anyway because I it just distracts me and You know I often find my script supervisor. My DP or I would ended up. Having meetings are working through anyway. Nobody was really taking a break so it wasn't actually functioning as the break that it was supposed to be so this became came just sort of a mission for me and something that I wanNa talk more about. I WanNa talk to the unions about. I want to talk to the directors union to the crew unions to everybody about this idea that this could benefit all of us that it is a way that we can get more parents as directors because I think for a lot of us. It's the difference between the Subpoena Beena Sustainable Life Style and it not but also that it's safer and it could benefit all of us. Let's take a short break here. Okay and then we'll come back and talk some more if you're just joining us. My guest is Mario Heller. She directed the new film a Beautiful Day in the neighborhood about Fred Rogers and his relationship relationship with a journalist who profiled him and she also made. Can you ever forgive me. And the diary of a teenage girl. We'll be right back. This is fresh air support for this podcast and the following message for parents come from little passports. A monthly subscription service that sparks kids curiosity about the world around them. Each curated package gauge is filled with fun ways to experience the excitement of discovering geography world cultures or science with projects designed for their passionate young minds every month brings a new adventure for you and your child to explore together. Learn more at little passports dot com slash. NPR this message comes from NPR sponsor. BURLINGTON stores many people go without a winter coat to keep them warm. But BURLINGTON wants to change that with Burlington's annual coat drive hosted in partnership with delivering hiring good now through January. Twentieth BURLINGTON IS ACCEPTING DONATIONS OF GENTLY Warren Coats at any of their stores. Nationwide as a thank you. Shoppers can receive ten ten percent off their entire BURLINGTON purchase. Find a store near you at Burlington Dot Com Burlington style is giving back my guest as Marielle L. Heller. She directed the new film a Beautiful Day in the neighborhood. Being an artist means being able to see the world and then express the world all through your point of view and you have to have confidence in that point of view. And you have to feel that you have an independent point of view worth expressing and not wait for everybody else's affirmation formation before you can express it Yeah not not make sure you're in the majority and how you're perceiving something Was it ever hard for you. You to believe in your point of you know I Dunno it's this funny thing because I obviously I get asked a lot of questions about about being a female director and and the fact that you know there's a lot of women feel Not connected to their power and I recognize that as a truth and that a lot of women stopped raising their hand when they were eleven years. Old and class they went from being an overachiever. Oughta be quiet and not wanting to raise. It just wasn't me I. I never stopped and I don't know why I don't know what my parents did. That made needed that. I just I've always. I've always been fairly confident in what I feel and thank part of that I think is coming from the bay area where you know. Being an individual was very celebrated. Our culture of the bay area is a place where you want to be different. You want to be seen you want to be heard you want. Their conformity. Informative is the worst thing that you could aspire to so I definitely have that. You know that just in my bones but Also whatever my parents did that helped foster me as an independent person. I mean anyone who knew me as a kid and finds out. I'm directing movies. It's like yeah that makes sense nobody. Nobody's shocked you know. I mean I was like I was definitely organizing. Little plays on my block and making all the kids do what I told. Hold them to do so. I was bossy from very young age. But also I. I knew what I thought I knew what I wanted and I knew and I was very clear about it. You wanted to act actor originally and you're in a children's theatre And it sounds like directing was kind of fallback scheme. Well not get. I didn't I didn't even think about directing I mean I I didn't even and I don't even think I quite knew what not in film I didn't really know what a director did. I mean that's not something you get a lot of images of as you know you kind of you have images ages of what an actor does but you don't re I I guess I had images of what a director in theatre did but You know I I still consider myself an actor I I acting is the craft. I studied in college. It's something I I have a lot of respect for. I love actors. I think I think part of why I'm a good director is there's a secret which is that. A lot of directors are scared of actors and are afraid. They don't know how to speak their language and don't know how to communicate with them or get what they want out of actors and as soon as you talk to other directors directors you start to realize like Oh actors this like really scary entity for a lot of people but that was the thing I was the most comfortable with because I was like. Oh well that's what I know. I know how to talk to actors about a scene because I know how I'd like someone to talk to me about why I know how I like to be directed so when when I came to directing which was totally. It was totally not a plan. It was just because I didn't want anyone else to direct my movie I had written. I realized that that these skills that I had as an actor which were for this huge benefit I had and that could really help me you know pull performances out of actors And at the things that I was really scared of where all the technical stuff I was really scared of not knowing the right lenses or not understanding how you write a shot list or these kind of these skills that the other directors who all went to film school those were the things they were very very comfortable with but as I started directing it felt incredibly natural to me more because as an actor I sort of always felt like I was holding my tongue. When you're an actor you're not supposed to get involved in certain things you're not supposed to get involved in every discussion you know like even if I was acting in a play and it was a new play and we were discussing how a scene was working or not working? You know the director and the playwright all right might be discussing whether scenes working or not but as an actor. You're not really supposed to get involved in that conversation. You're sort of their to do your work and I was. I spent a lot of years when I was working as an actor doing theater. Kind of holding my tongue where I wanted to be involved in those bigger creative discussions. But I knew it wasn't my place and when I started directing it was like oh great now I get to actually be involved in all of the deeper creative discussions and figure these things out and the problem solving of storytelling telling and You know and I tried to involve my actors in that way as well and let them feel like they're not required to hold their tongue and that we can all be parts of of these bigger discussions. What's been wonderful to talk with you? Thank you so much for the interview and for the movie. All thank you Terry. It's such a pleasure to talk right. You marielle Heller directed the new movie a Beautiful Day in the neighborhood starring. Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers tomorrow on fresh air. We'll talk about the influence fluent foreign money on American politics with a focus. On the trump administration. Our guest will be Ben Freeman Director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy. He says the US is at a high point in its vulnerability to foreign influence. Hope will join us. Fresh Air's executive the producer is Danny Miller. Our Technical Director and engineer as our Bentham our associate producer for digital media. Is Molly Seavy Nesper. Roberta shorrock directs the show Challe. I'm Terry Gross. You can make believe and pretend the true you can win more hope or contemplate. I think you'd like to do but until you start to do it. You will never see it through because the make believe pretending just won't do it or you. You got to do the little bit you got to do it do it when you can know you did it or you did you did you. When you arrive and learn in your bigger than you were a day ago? It's not an easy to keep trying but it's one way to did you grow. You got every little bit you got to do it. It did you did you did you.