By Ray Pride

Joe Swanberg’s Digging For Fire Planted In The Orchard

The Orchard announced today that the company is acquiring North American rights to Joe Swanberg’s DIGGING FOR FIRE. The film is co-written by Jake Johnson and Swanberg and it stars Jake Johnson, Rosemarie DeWitt, Orlando Bloom, Brie Larson, Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick and Mike Birbiglia. DIGGING FOR FIRE was produced by Swanberg, Alicia Van Couvering and Jake Johnson. The film had its world premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

The film follows the discovery of a bone and a gun which sends a husband and wife – each full of doubts about their future and anxiety about the present – on separate adventures over the course of a weekend.  At the premiere’s Q&A, Swanberg explained that the movie was about the realization that a marriage should be “two individuals agreeing to be in a relationship, rather than two people melting into one thing.”    The picture was filmed in LA on 35mm film, with a sprawling ensemble cast that also includes Sam Elliot, Judith Light, Ron Livingston, Melanie Lynskey,  Jenny Slate, Tim Simons, and Jane Adams.

“After admiring Joe’s films for a long time, it’s a dream for us to have the opportunity to work with him,” said The Orchard’s SVP of Film & TV, Paul Davidson.  “We think audiences will flock to DIGGING FOR FIRE for its engaging and comedic look at adult relationships and we’re excited to work with Joe, Jake and Alicia to make that a reality.”   Said Swanberg, “I came to Sundance to find the company that loved my film the most, and would do the smartest and most aggressive job releasing it.  I have found that company in The Orchard and can’t wait to start this new relationship.”


This is Swanberg’s second collaboration with Jake Johnson, following DRINKING BUDDIES, and his second film in two years at Sundance, following HAPPY CHRISTMAS. “I wanted to work on DIGGING FOR FIRE to get another opportunity to work with Joe Swanberg,” said Jake Johnson. “He is a true collaborator. His movies are essentially written by the ensemble and he wants everyone at their best. As a director, he is a true artist, and I love having the chance to work with him.”


The deal was negotiated by The Orchard Director of Acquisitions Danielle DiGiacomo and the filmmakers directly, with Andr é  Des Rochers of Gray Krauss Stratford Sander Des Rochers, LLP.


About the Filmmakers 

Joe Swanberg  has directed many acclaimed feature films and web shows, including HANNAH TAKES THE STAIRS, DRINKING BUDDIES, HAPPY CHRISTMAS and the  series YOUNG AMERICAN BODIES. He also co-directed and acted in the breakout horror film, V/H/S, in addition to his acting work in films like YOU’RE NEXT, THE SACRAMENT and THOU WAST MILD AND LOVELY.     Jake Johnson is a writer and actor who stars opposite Zooey Deschanel on “New Girl” and will soon appear in the highly anticipated JURASSIC WORLD; born in Chicago, he has worked with David Mamet, Larry David, Bob Odenkirk, John Landis, Ivan Reitman, Nick Stoller, and Adam McKay.   Producer Alicia Van Couvering ‘s credits include Lena Dunham’s TINY FURNITURE and Swanberg’s DRINKING BUDDIES, as well as another Sundance 2015 premiere: COP CAR, starring Kevin Bacon.



About The Orchard

The Orchard is a pioneering music, video and film distribution company and top-ranked Multi Channel Network operating in more than 25 global markets. With a holistic approach to sales and marketing combined with industry-leading technology and operations, The Orchard amplifies reach and revenue across hundreds of digital, physical and mobile outlets around the world. The Orchard streamlines content owners’ business complexity with an intuitive client dashboard, comprehensive rights management and tailored client support. Founded in 1997, The Orchard empowers businesses and creators in the entertainment industry. For further information, please visit .


The Orchard also picked up North American rights to Patrick Brice’s THE OVERNIGHT at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.




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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon