Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Diggers follows four lifelong friends in the 1970's who make their livelihood by digging for clams in the waters around Long Island, just as their fathers did, and their fathers' fathers before them. But a series of events and the arrival of a large company snapping up exclusive rights to the clam beds forces the four to consider their futures.

There's Hunt (Paul Rudd), who would rather take photographs than dig for clams; Jack (Ron Eldard) who seems to hit on anything female that moves; Cons (Josh Hamilton) who drifts off into all sorts of metaphysical philosophizing, usually while under the influences of drugs; and Lozo (Ken Marino), who is a constant fount of profanity when he isn't yelling at his screaming brood of five kids. Rounding out the cast are Maura Tierney as Hunt's sister, who's getting over a divorce from a cheating husband; Sarah Paulson as Lozo's long-suffering wife; and Lauren Ambrose as the city girl who takes a shine to Hunt.

Written by co-star Ken Marino, Diggers looks at a group of close friends, who've known each other their entire lives, and who find a certain comfort in the niches they've carved for themselves in their small town. It's not until outside forces intrude, like the girl from New York City, the big faceless company that comes to town, or life and death, that the guys even consider doing something beyond their comfort zones. You can believe the guys have been friends forever, even when they're beating the crap out of each other. Paul Rudd is great as he usually is, and he and Maura Tierney play well off each other. Josh Hamilton is priceless when he goes off on one of his philosophical rants, usually after taking a hit off a bong or taking some acid. And Ken Marino delivers a fine performance as a guy, who despite all his flaws, will swallow his pride to do what's needed for his family.

Director Katherine Dieckmann and writer and co-star Ken Marino stuck around for a Q&A:

  • Ken Marino's grew up on the south shore of Long Island, and his father, grandfather, and uncles were all clamdiggers, so he wanted to set a project in that world since about 5 or 6 years ago.
  • Paul Rudd is an old friend (from when he and Marino worked together on Wet Hot American Summer), and was already attached to the picture when they first started shopping it around. Marino had asked if he would do the script, and Rudd happily agreed.
  • Peter Dinklage was originally supposed to play Cons, but had to drop out about three to four weeks before the start of shooting because of TV series commitments (Threshold?).
  • Maura Tierney was a favourite actress of Dieckmann's, and they discussed working together in the past. Dieckmann thought that Tierney and Rudd were an organic match as brother and sister in the film.
  • Sarah Paulson had worked with Marino before. Marino called her up and asked if she wanted to play his wife, and she responded "absolutely!"
  • Dieckmann had also met Lauren Ambrose before, and Ambrose was looking to do an indie film coming off of Six Feet Under.
  • Marino was also friends with Ron Eldard. Dieckmann nicknamed his character the "bl**job king", and loved that he could show the lighter side to his personality after having played a lot of heavy roles.
  • There was very little improv in the film, but because Marino the writer was always on set as an actor, Dieckmann could collaborate with him if she needed to make changes because of staging or dialogue.
  • Marino commented he was the least faithful to the script, and Dieckmann added that he threw in a lot more "f*cks".
  • When asked about the (verbal) abuse suffered by the kids in the film, Dieckmann said Marino spent a lot of time with the kids to explaining what he was going to do in the scene, and how loud he was going to be, so they kids were fine when shooting rolled around. Dieckmann's own daughter played one of Lozo's kids in the movie.
  • The movie will have US distribution through Magnolia Pictures.
  • The shoot took four weeks (21 days), which was short considering the fact that many of the shots were on water, with old boats, and Dieckmann needed to worry about continuity in the sense of staying true to the period (1976).
  • The male characters are all versions of people Marino knows, with changes.
  • Dieckmann originally started as a journalist, but made the transition to filmmaking after Michael Stipe of REM asked her to make a video for the group (Stand), then she did an eccentric kids show called The Adventures of Pete and Pete for Nickelodeon, then her first film A Good Baby which she workshopped at the Sundance Institute.
  • When asked if there was an involvement from Billy Joel, considering the Long Island setting of the film, Marino replied that he did manage to get the script on to his nightstand through friends of friends, but this was around the time Joel went into rehab, so Marino doesn't know if he actually got the chance to see the script or not.
  • It was difficult to get funding since it was such a small, slice-of-life movie, but HDNet funded it based on the involvement of Rudd and (originally) Dinklage.
  • When asked about regrets about scenes dropped in the editing process, Dieckmann mentioned an improvised scene between Hamilton and Marino at the bar when Cons goes on a rant about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, but she felt that the scene with Hamilton smoking the clam bong while watching the iconic commercial with the Indian crying as someone throws litter out a car at his feet was gratuitous enough. Marino mentioned as a writer it was hard for him to let go of dialogue; he did reference some scenes like the guy with the gigantic afro, and the hossenfeffer thing between the guys which was supposed to be a signal they used to get each other's attention.


My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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