Dakota Johnson is having a big year. Not only is she part of one of the season’s big awards contenders in The Lost Daughter , but she also debuted two of her company’s first films at the Sundance Film Festival, AMI OK. and Cha Cha Real Smooth, which he also produced and starred in.
Plans are totally different: Am I right? She plays a character in her early 30s in Los Angeles who is questioning her sexuality and figuring out who she is and wants to be, and in Cha Cha Real Smooth she is a teenager. The daughter has a young mother who is autistic, forming a unique relationship. along with a 22-year-old played by the film’s writer-director Cooper Reiff. Both the films are looking for a distributor.
Johnson spoke to The Associated Press about this new phase of his career and the benefits of being a producer. Remarks have been edited for clarity and brevity.
We were so excited to go to Sundance. This is really a big deal. These are the first two films of my company and we made them both during the pandemic and we feel very proud. We really care about them and the people involved. So, it’s sad but it’s good that they’re virtual because a lot of people that I didn’t know would be able to see it are getting to it, so it’s nice.
Do you feel a different sense of ownership of these projects as a producer?
Absolutely. What I loved the most was the editing process and scoring and color and things that I don’t get involved in just as an actress. I find myself bumping up against it quite a bit in my career. I really care about my work. I love my work very much. And when I feel like my work as an actor or my participation in a project ends the day I leave the set, it can be really difficult. It can be really sad when you don’t see anything or hear anything until you’re going to do ADR (audio re-recording) or you see it come out and sometimes it’s not what you thought it would be. That this is going to happen or this is not the film you signed up for. This can be detrimental to my artistic process. So it was really satisfying and fulfilling in a way that I really enjoy.
Have you wanted to start your own company, TeaTime Pictures with Ro Donnelly, for a while?
I always wanted to do more. I always wanted to make my own films. We started it about three years ago. Ro, my business partner, was an executive at Netflix. We were friends before and I was just like, “I want to do this and do you want to do it with me?” And it was a big thing because I was basically like, “You need to leave your very safe, comfortable, powerful job and take a chance on me”… It’s great because now it’s really kind of Thrives and has a life and a heartbeat
What did you approach in AM I OK?
I had some things that I loved, but I think it was the idea of a woman in her 30s who is still figuring out who she is. And I really like the idea of allowing people to do that for the rest of their lives if they need to. I don’t think it’s realistic to figure everything out by a certain age. I loved the idea of being afraid of someone’s sexuality and the truth of it. And then the female friendship aspect, I loved that such a more serious subject matter was included in a buddy comedy.
We have developed it only with the idea of a movie title. Cooper and I really developed the dialogue and the characters and we struggled a lot to make this film. We forfeited our fee. He forfeited his fee so that we would have enough money to make the film. And I’m just so incredibly honored to be involved in a festival like Sundance. It’s a real gift, even if it was kind of the end of the line for the movie, which I love, I really (expletive) hope it isn’t.