John Patton Ford interview: ‘Emily the Criminal’ writer-director

“I valued her instincts as a performer and as a storyteller,” declares writer/director John Patton Ford about working with leading lady and co-producer Aubrey Plaza. For our recent webchat he adds, “She figures out what the movie needs and just knows who to talk to about it. We put all these things in motion, and it felt like whenever we were really in need of some kind of miracle, she would magically make it go down. And then she was there in the editing room as well. She was just like camped out in the editing room with myself and the editor. Because of her experience as a performer, she’s hyper aware of how the audience reacts to her, and that carries through with editing.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

SEE Exclusive Video Interview: Aubrey Plaza (‘Emily the Criminal’)

In “Emily the Criminal,” college dropout Emily (Plaza) is saddled with student debt that she is struggling to pay off because a prior felony conviction prevents her from obtaining a well-paying job. She becomes involved in a credit card scam as a dummy shopper buying expensive items with stolen credit cards, which promises to make her $200 in one hour. She bonds with the fraud ring’s organizer Youcef (Theo Rossi), as they attempt to forge a path forward together to get them both out of the rut that they find themselves in. The crime thriller, now streaming on Netflix, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, scoring four Indie Spirit Award nominations for Ford (Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay), Rossi (Best Supporting Performance) and Plaza (Best Lead Performance), which follows her Lead Performance nomination at the Gotham Awards.

While he’s thrilled that his first feature film has become a commercial and critical success, Ford reveals that he wrestled with some self-doubt when bringing his labor of love to the big screen. “It is what I lead with most of the time for better or for worse. If you’re doubting what you’re doing, then really, it’s just you’re thinking about it and you’re turning over the idea. That’s only going to lead to something that’s more rigorous and more thorough,” he explains. “I think my pattern is to blame myself for most things like almost anything can happen to me, and I will somehow feel that it like I did it. That’s like just me. So when making the movie, I saw everyone doing a really good job, I was so happy with the actors and happy with everything that I was most critical of me. Am I bringing enough to the table? That’s what I was. That’s what kept me lying awake at night. Can we get it all done on time? We would show up to set every morning and I would look at the schedule of what we had to do that day, and it seemed like physically impossible, like shoot this four minute scene and then shoot a car chase and then shoot this four minute scene and then go home and sleep for eight hours and come back and do it again tomorrow.”

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UPLOADED Dec 19, 2022 12:33 pm