Tova Laiter (above left) with Ben Rosenfield (above right) and Hannah Marks (bottom)
New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the honor of hosting a live video Q&A with writer/director Hannah Marks (Mark, Mary & Some Other People, After Everything), and actor Ben Rosenfield (Mark, Mary & Some Other People, You Mean Everything to Me, Mrs. America). Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A-List Series, moderated the event and conversed with the two guests on their latest collaboration, Mark, Mary & Some Other People.
Hannah Marks was named by Rolling Stone magazine one of their ‘25 Under 25’ artists changing the world and featured as one of Forbes Magazine’s ‘30 trailblazers under 30’ in the Hollywood and Entertainment field.
Having started her career as an actress at a young age, Hannah Marks received recognition for her work as a director and writer for both short and feature-length films. She credits her skill in writing as a result of reading a larger number of scripts than most artists. Similarly, Marks has always been curious, recalling moments from her childhood while on movie sets, “I liked to ask every crew member what they’re doing and how they do it. And I think, as you know, coming from an 11 or 12-year-old, that was probably very annoying and precocious, but it paid off now.”
Ben Rosenfield started in theatre, with his first professional job at the New York Theater workshop on an adaptation of a film for the stage. According to Ben, at the time that type of adaption wasn’t popular but had this to say about the production, “I guess it’s happening more and more now that Disney owns Broadway. It’s an adaptation of a Bergman movie called Through a Glass Darkly. It was an incredible first job. Lots of my experience before that was doing plays in my high school, growing up, in middle school, and stuff like that in New Jersey.”
Movie poster for Mark, Mary & Some Other People (2021)
When asked by Laiter about one of the subjects of the film, open romantic relationships, Marks notes, “I think people are opening their mind to what relationships can look like now, just because it didn’t work out in our movie, I don’t want to preach that I think it can never work out because everyone is so different. You know, I personally am just more of a fan of a bittersweet ending – emphasis on the bitter.”
Laiter then asked Rosenfield about his career ambitions, to which he said, “Yeah, I certainly have interest in directing. You know, I feel I’m pretty focused on the acting thing right now, but I am writing some stuff with some people that I want to get put up eventually, and I am interested in directing. I think one thing I’ve learned from Hannah is that we meet a lot of people along the way as actors and it can be helpful to make the most of that.”
When asked by a student about nontraditional relationships gaining more screen time and whether the subject matter drew Marks and Rosenfield, the director noted her favorite types of films are the ones that do not take a stance, but rather offer a different perspective: “Mark and Mary had very valid interpretations of why they wanted to have the experience that they wanted to have. So to me, that’s the most exciting part. There’s part of me that’s really traditional and old-fashioned, and another part of me that’s progressive, and what happens when you put those two people together and they have to duke it out? Neither of them are bad people and that’s what makes something enjoyable for me to write.”
Movie still from Mark, Mary & Some Other People (2021)
Another student asked Rosenfield his experience performing in theatre versus film. He notes, “That’s a great question. As far as the preparation, at least when you do a play like in New York, off-Broadway, on Broadway, major regional theater like the Geffen or Steppenwolf, or something like that, you’re going to have at least four weeks of rehearsal. You really don’t really get that in movies, especially in an independent movie. I met the co-star Hayley three or four days before we started shooting.”
Rosenfield then noted that acting for both stage and film is a great experience for an actor, “I think performing for theatre is an important thing for actors to do because one other major difference is you tell the story in order every night. You don’t get to say, ‘Oh, sorry, I screwed that one up. Can we take it back?’”
Both guests have some important upcoming projects. Marks will be directing the upcoming film adaptation of Turtles All the Way Down, while Rosenfield plays opposite Cate Blanchett on FX’s limited series Mrs. America. When asked what he learned from Cate Blanchet in this movie: he said that when she has to say expository dialogue which can be boring but necessary, she infuses it with feeling. ‘Nobody will remember what I said, but they will remember the feeling they got from it”.
The New York Film Academy would like to thank Hannah Marks and Ben Rosenfield for sharing their time and perspectives with NYFA students and alumni.
Watch the full conversation below:
These guests are not faculty and do not teach at NYFA, but they have appeared to share their stories and experience with our students. As guest speakers are scheduled based on their availability, NYFA cannot guarantee whether a guest speaker will visit during a student’s attendance or who that guest speaker may be. This guest speaker forum is not part of any NYFA curriculum and attendance at guest speaker events is purely voluntary. Students should be aware that guest speaker events do not represent a job opportunity nor are they intended to provide industry connections.