What Parks and Recreation writer Katie Dippold did next...
The Heat writer on why she is so keen to work with Sandra Bullock again, dealing with reviews, and the potential for a movie sequel...
Is it nerve-racking to have a major film like this out?
We were filming at this time last year. Ever since the script sold, it’s been constant work mode. And now that it’s wrapped, I’m so nervous about it coming out.
The week up until it came out I was grinding my teeth in my sleep. My jaw hurt. I was so scared. I was scared of it being a huge bomb. I didn’t know what to say about it. If you can imagine the worst case scenario, that’s what was going through my head. I imagined that there’s only one film canister that gets destroyed before it gets to the theatre. Since it’s come out and made it to different movie theatres, it’s been really fun.
Can you elaborate on the style of humor you used with the two female leads?
In terms of the gentleness, I hear what you’re saying. But I don’t know. Bridesmaids I really loved and I feel that because it starred women and was written by a woman, it gives you a different experience. Their life experiences are just different from a man. Funny is funny. But in the opening scene when Kristen Wiig put on makeup but pretended she had just woken up all made up, I totally did that in college once. So I just had never seen that in a comedy, so it was refreshing to see something different.
What kinds of comedies do you watch? Any British comedy?
Probably my favourite comedy of all time is Tootsie. Shaun of the Dead would also be in my top five. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz were inspiring to me and I feel they did an amazing job of having fun with a new genre but not parodying it. The film still feels real and grounded, but they had fun with it.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m actually working on the sequel right now.
Will Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy return?
I hope so. I’m writing it hoping so. They just hired me to write the draft, so that’ll be the next step. I’m hoping very much that will happen.
Do the actors want to do it?
I have no idea what their contract is like. I really don’t know.
Have you spoken to them about it?
I haven’t talked to them about the sequel. But I’ve seen both since wrapping filming and they seem excited about it.
Are you doing anymore sitcom stuff like Parks and Recreation?
I had to take a leave from Parks to work on the movie because I had to go to Boston to film for three months. So that was Parks last season. This season I was hired to write the sequel and to write another movie I pitched. So I have to take the next couple of months to work on those.
More like this
Is Paul on board theoretically for The Heat sequel?
Yes, for the second one. The other is a mother-daughter comedy that he’s going to direct.
Have you got anyone in mind to play the parts of the mother and daughter ?
Like I did for The Heat, I’m trying not to get my heart set on anyone in particular. There are people that will pop in my mind because they’re amazing, but I try not to do that.
How do you write?
I’ve just been writing from home. I’ll wake up and have the TV on mute on something like Law and Order in the background, nothing too distracting. And then I’ll just write all day. I’ve been working from home and I’m not used to it. I’m used to going into the Parks and Rec office. I think I need to find another location or I’ll go crazy.
Do you think the world is working its way up to women’s humor? Like Girls and Parks and Rec, are people warming up to it?
It’s crazy to me. Being a female comedian, I’ve always had my female comedian heroes and was obsessed with them all the time. I watched them perform. So it doesn’t feel that way to me, but I guess for some people it is new, which is surprising to me. But I think it’s great. I think Bridesmaids helped things a lot. Before Bridesmaids came out, people weren’t really sure that it was going to work. So that certainly helped a lot.
Was it a breakthrough?
Yes, absolutely. It’s just a funny movie; I laughed so hard. My whole theatre was cracking up.
Do you have an idea about your career path in five or 10 year’s time?
I really don’t know. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. Having this movie made was a huge goal of mine, so I’m trying to figure out what the next step is.
Do you have any other ambitions?
I love writing, so it truly was that. I’m just writing more movies, but I’m sure there’s a new direction to go from here, I just can’t figure it out.
What was it like to see your film in a cinema for the first time?
It was really crazy. Your whole life you’ve seen movies and studio logos. It was really exciting. It was really exciting for me.
What was it like to work with Sandra?
She was really nice. I was a huge fan so I was frozen when I first talked to her because I didn’t want to sound crazy. But I worked so far to the other extreme of playing it cool that I seemed like a robot. Melissa and Sandra are like best friends in real life now and I feel like the number one reason is that they’re both real people. It’s amazing to me the level of celebrity they have but they’re just kind, normal, real people. I think that’s one reason they’ve hit it off so well.
You’ve spawned a great friendship, have you?
I hope so, yeah.
Do you read reviews and critiques of your film?
I try not to read too many reviews, but my family and friend feedback is very important to me. In the beginning I used to always hear people say not to read the reviews. And I thought, “Oh yeah, of course.” But then everyone starts to read the reviews anyway, and this isn’t good for me. I stopped pretty quickly, but you can’t help but see them sometimes.
I feel like this whole movie was a really huge learning experience for me. And I’m so grateful to be on set with Paul Feig and letting me write. I learned a lot and I feel like I know and have a sense that I could learn more and get better at it. I just feel like I’d rather spend time working on things I can get better at than reading something that picks it apart.
In Great Britain we have the impression that American comedies are group-written artifacts honed by a lot of people. But this is an authored piece. Is it like that in Hollywood?
I’ve always heard that when you film a movie, you have to let go of it and it’s written and you’ll see it in theatres. That’s what I’ve always been told. I have to credit Paul Feig, the director, because it’s the director’s movie. It’s their decision to have you on set or have you involved in the re-writes. So Paul on set being a writer is so writer-friendly. I think I had a rare experience of being so involved from the beginning. He read it and like the voice of it, so he kept that intact and didn’t try to change that into something else. He’s really a dream director for a writer.
What did you learn that you want to take to the next project?
One thing I try to think about every single time, but this started at Parks and Rec, is to focus on the story first and you can add jokes and humor to that story. That’s a lesson that I learned at Parks and Rec and still had to have it beat into me. In the re-write process, there was a joke I was hanging on to, but if we’re changing the story, you have to let go of the joke and serve the story first.
Will the sequel be set in the same precinct?
I’m writing it for those characters. Where they go, I don’t know what I’m allowed to say. I’m really excited about it. It’s being written for those characters.