A Conversation with “C’mon C’mon” writer/director Mike Mills.

EoM contributor Thomas Manning recently had the opportunity to submit a question in a virtual Q&A with writer and director Mike Mills about his new film C’mon C’mon, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Gaby Hoffmann, and Woody Norman. Read below as Mike Mills discusses his creative partnership with the film’s music composers and brother duo, Bryce and Aaron Dessner, from the band The National.

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L-R: Actor Woody Norman and writer/director Mike Mills on the set of C’MON C’MON. Photo by: Julieta Cervantes.


Thomas Manning: What went into the decision of choosing Bryce and Aaron Dessner to compose the music score for this film? And, what were some of your favorite aspects of their contributions?

Mike Mills:  Yeah, so they’re from The National. They’re twin brothers that play in this band, The National. And I had just done a short film for them with Alicia Vikander. That was a really lovely, really deep collaborative project. And then they asked me to come help produce their record. So, I just came out of spending two years with them, and they’re my great friends and my great art collaborators. And I wrote a fair amount of the script [for C’mon C’mon], at their studio, at their house. So that project and working with them really stirred the pot that made this project happen.

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L-R: Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny and Woody Norman as Jesse in Mike Mills’ C’MON C’MON. Photo courtesy of A24.

And they’re involved in all my conversations and hopes and dreams, and hoping to get Joaquin [Phoenix], and hoping to have Gaby [Hoffmann] and Woody [Norman] – they knew the whole story, so they’re my art friends through this whole process. And I think what they brought was really them, and I’m chiming in. But they achieved it, and that is: I really feel like they’re describing the space between Woody and Joaquin, between [their respective characters] Jesse and Johnny, which is a hard thing to describe. It’s like the sound of their relationship to me, which is really gentle, but there’s strength in there and the biggest pulls are in there, the biggest forces are in there. But, presented in this very kind of gossamer subtle way with a lot of woodwinds, a lot of organic humanity just in the instrumentation. There’s a very long process. I led them every which wrong away and they kind of kept coming back. We had to build the brain to figure out what the sound needed to be. And we went in a lot of different directions before we got to this one.


Official Synopsis:
Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix) and his young nephew (Woody Norman) forge a tenuous but transformational relationship when they are unexpectedly thrown together in this delicate and deeply moving story about the connections between adults and children, the past and the future, from writer-director Mike Mills.

In select theaters November 19th, 2021.


Thomas Manning is a member of the NCFCA and SEFCA, and also the co-host of the television show and radio program “Meet Me at the Movies.” He has served as a production assistant and voting member on the Film Selection Committee for the Real to Reel Film Festival. He is currently studying film, television, and English at Gardner-Webb University.



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