Today I'm Skyping with Kelly Reichardt and John Raymond, who co wrote the wonderful film First Cow. Kelly also directed the film. Kelly's other feature films include River of Grass, Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy, Meek's Cut Off, Night Moves and Certain Women. John is the author of the novels The Half Life, Rain Dragon and Free Bird and the story collection Livability. He's also published a collection of writings about visual art called the Community, and it was nominated for an Emmy for his work on the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce. First Cow stars O. Ryan Lee as King Lou and John McGarr O as Cookie. Before we begin, I tend to focus my podcast interviews for 30 Fairfax on the specific project at hand. Uh, that means how it was made. That means talking about what it is, and that means spoilers. So know that I've now alerted the world about the fact that we will spoilers probably in this conversation. If you haven't seen the film yet, you should go watch it because it's great. Andi, I'm just telling you to that we're gonna I'm gonna be asking about, like how things end probably and things like that I don't even know. But I know that we might spoil it. So I wanna put the warning up front. Eso This was great. Thank you so much for making this movie. I had the best time that night, though. I will tell you about the part where I paused it because I was so stressed. I had to stop. Um and I want to get to that a little bit, but But before begin, um, John, Um, the film comes or is inspired by or is a portion of the novel of the half life on Dino. You guys have been trying to work this out as a film in some way for some time, so I'd actually like to kick that off, because from what I understand about the half life, it's a much broader canvas. And somehow you guys built this beautiful little movie that feels like it's from a short, short story, and I'd love to hear more about that process. Uh, it's all of those things that's inspired by, and pieces of it are still in there on it. Definitely something we talked about forever. I mean, I was writing the novel the half life when I first met Kelly, actually back in, what, 2000 ish thereabouts on. And, uh, it was story that yeah, had to. It was a much more epic kind of novel than, um than the movie ended up being. But it was something. It was kind of the beginning of the conversation with Kelly. Um, in many ways, I mean, there's actually little bits in the book that come from Kelly. Like, I remember a party that I was at, where we were talking about Warren Oates. And, uh, the dialogue that Kelly told me during that party ended up in the mouth of one of the girl characters in the, um in the book, which was kind of fun to realize that, you know, she's in there, too, but, you know, Yeah. I mean, Kelly read the half life and enjoyed it, and that kind of was beginning of our conversation about, you know, film stuff, and that ultimately led to the old Joy project. But it's been something in the back of our minds. You have for what, now, 15 years or something, and, um that I mean, the thing that we did with it, it was it was a very radical adaptation. I mean, the book in the book, their characters Ah, plotline. With two characters sailing to China and spending 40 years in a prison in Canton. And, you know, it was just there things that happened in the book that were just way beyond our resource is so I mean, really our first conversations this time around, Um, we're just about limiting it. Like what? What what piece of this could we do? That would still be interesting. I mean, there was maybe, like, five minutes. We were like, Well, could we find a way Toe spice this altogether. But it became apparent, like, really fast that like, now we just need toe, find some piece of it that we can dio and, um then, you know, we ended up breaking off, I guess, like the first two or three scenes of one of the plot lines and then really taking a total 90 degree turn from there and, you know, became a very different creature. I think it still has, like, the spirit of the book. And I mean, it feels like, definitely inspired by, um but it really it really became a different creature. Mhm. Come on. Yeah. Kelly weather was I'm sorry. I don't want to cut you off, but if you're going to say something, Um okay, Kelly, was there something about a plot or character or the theme? Apart from the fact the whole book obviously enticed you What I'm always curious about, like, what becomes a movie? You know, we start with ideas and then somewhere along the way, there's a script, or maybe there isn't. And then there's the shooting. And then there's the editing. But even on the day of, um, there's changes in dialogue. Um, some people think we wrote the whole thing, but if you look at it, this structure was still the same. Improvised dialogue was actually built, hopefully making better what was already there. So there's always, like, the kernel of something that sort of stays or keeps everybody on track, at least, And then you might still end up with something that looks very different from the beginning thing, and yet still is that thing. I'm just curious when you were when you were looking at the book, or what do you find or what was the thing that we're hunting after When you said we're going to do this? Yeah. I mean, when I originally read the book, I, uh I just was reading the book, and I finish the book, actually, on a road trip in Kansas and and I I wrote John, uh, e doing across country to specifically do something in Kansas. And in the motel room in the morning, I finished the half life. It was thinking about it. I'm lost off, and I veered away from where I was, like, 10 minutes from what the whole trip is about. And I went a long way. Uh, suddenly I was in Nebraska and I was like, Wait, what just happened? But I just love the characters and enough that I wrote. John. I didn't really know John, so I'd met him. But I wrote him and asked him if he had any short stories, which he sent me old joy at that time. But, I mean, it should be said that the novel, um, goes from contemporary times and then into the mid 18 hundreds and weaves back and forth through in different times. We've considered like, oh, maybe we just do the contemporary section Or maybe you. But I just love those characters. And I think pretty much all the big themes of the film somehow manage. I feel like the this rip did somehow when John came up with the cow as the vehicle, um, which allowed all the other, uh, sort of themes from the novel to come in. The other thing, uh, that, uh, that helped it work was in the novel. King Lou is really two characters, and that was the other thing. Uh, when John John is the first heavy lifting of the first draft, which is becomes a thing we work off of, he combined those two characters was that was a big That was a big thing. Uh, that was a big thing.