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Jefferson Root Written by Jefferson Root
Mar. 24, 2010 | 4:49 PM

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An Interview with Bob Byington and Nick Offerman of HARMONY AND ME

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      Music is all over Bob Byington’s critically praised indie “Harmony and Me.”  The movie begins with a quote from Madonna’s “Borderline”, and the title of the film was loosely inspired by the Elton John song “Harmony” from 1973’s Goodbye Yellowbrick Road.  The main character, (also named Harmony) spends the majority of the film trying to get over a breakup with a girls who’s treated his heart “like a snack.”  As he tries to pick up the pieces by telling anyone who’ll listen, he also takes some limited comfort in music.  At the outset of the film he starts taking piano lessons, and the rest of the film features numerous scenes of him working on a song with the chorus “the finishing touches.”  This could easily serve as an alternate title for the film, as Harmony (a spot-on Justin Rice) is able to close the book on his relationship and transform the weight he’s been carrying into something more upbeat.

      “Harmony and Me” was written and directed by Byington, and he’s assembled a cast sprinkled with comic ringers including Kevin Corrigan, Suzy Nakamura and Nick Offerman.  All of them deliver Byington’s sharp deadpan dialogue perfectly, and the movie is packed with laugh out loud moments.  Both Byington and Offerman (a regular on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation) were onhand at the Silent Movie Theater on Tuesday night.  They spoke with FilmRadar after the screening.

FilmRadar:  You received funding from the Sundance Lab for Harmony and Me.  What was that experience like? 

Bob Byington: They apply a rigorous process and assign screenwriting mentors like Joan Tewkesbury, who wrote Nashville, and Jim Taylor, who worked with Alexander Payne on a couple of scripts.  They made the movie 250 % better than it would have been.

FilmRadar: You’ve worked with Nick Offerman on your last two projects.  How did that collaboration come about?

Bob Byington:  I met him ten years ago.  He’s one of my favorite actors, or maybe my favorite.  We have what’s called a sensibility overlap.

FilmRadar:  You’ve worked with Andrew Bujalski on a couple of projects and (Harmony and Me Star) Justin Rice has worked with both Bujalski and Joe Swanberg.  Do you think “Mumblecore” is a useful term, and if so, do you consider your work to be a part of that?

Bob Byington:  I don’t see it as a particularly useful term. Andrew has helped me a lot and I like Joe a lot, and to be mentioned with them is flattering, but it’s really just because we’ve worked with some of the same people I think. And Joe and Andrew are also both excellent actors—I’d love to put Joe in something, he’s so real onscreen.

FilmRadar:  You’re an Austin based filmmaker.  How would you describe the indie film community there?

Bob Byington: It’s great.  Andrew just moved there.  As did the great Todd Rohal.

FilmRadar: What will you be working on next?

Bob Byington:  I’m writing a movie for Lena Dunham (“Tiny Furniture”)

FilmRadar: Nick, what’s your connection with Austin?

Nick Offerman: I love Austin.  I first went down there years ago when I did “Sin City.” (from Austin director Robert Rodriguez), although that was cast out of a hotel room on Doheny.

FilmRadar:  How much of what you did in “Harmony and Me” is scripted, and how much was improv?

Nick Offerman: Bob is a pretty intuitive filmmaker, so the script is usually pretty delicious…and he’s got a great head, so it’s always a lot of fun, but it’s a pretty open atmosphere. 

FilmRadar: When you’re not acting you spend a lot of time in your woodshop.  How does it feel to be the most famous actor/carpenter since Harrison Ford?

Nick Offerman: I don’t know.  Have you seen Mark Harmon on his show?

FilmRadar: Is that NCIS?

Nick Offerman:  Yeah.  He goes down into his basement and works on this sailboat that’s incredible.  It’s got magogany inlays.

FilmRadar:  Do you find that acting keeps you from spending as much time in your shop as you’d like?

Nick Offerman: Yes, but that’s what I call a champagne problem.  Or in my case it would probably be Miller High Life, the champagne of beers.

FilmRadar: You and Bob worked on a project together called RSO (Registered Sex Offender).  Are you aware that if you do a search for “Registered Sex Offender” on Netflix the first name that comes up is Nick Offerman?

Nick Offerman:  That’s fantastic.

“Harmony and Me” will screen at the Laemmle Sunset 5 on March 26th-27th,  and at USC on the 28th.  See links below for more info:

For information on Bob Byington’s Movie RSO:

For exquisite wood craftsmanship:

First Comment:

  1. Terrific interview, Jefferson.

    If you do pieces about start-up Festivals, I’d like to suggest you contact Ronald Sallon, cofounder of the International Movie Trailer Festival. IMTF is sponsoring a contest that invites moviemakers to submit trailers (in any genre) for movies they’ve made or dream of making.

    There are many awards including the Grand Prize is $5,000.

    Ronald’s email is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

    Best to you,

    Murray Suid

    Posted by MurraySuid on 05/29 at 03:38 PM