Now Streaming in Austin: “If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear to God I'll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth”

How Meghan Ross got Jon Hamm to voice her feminist comedy short

David Afflick as the face (but not the voice) of the dad in hilarious short film “If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear to God I'll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth” (Image Courtesy of Bravemaker Films)

Welcome to Now Streaming in Austin, highlighting locally made titles to watch while self-quarantining.
How do you get Jon Hamm to do the voice-over for your comedy short?

You know, the one that you film in New Jersey with your brother? Well, as Austin-based director and comedian Meghan Ross discovered, you have to ask. She said, “I've mailed so many people who are beyond my level of accomplishment, and I’m not afraid of hearing 'no.’”

It helps if you’re adapting a riotously hilarious piece from the New Yorker. In 2018, the revered magazine published “If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear to God I'll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth” in its Daily Shouts & Murmurs humor column. It’s an uproarious rewriting of a sitcom mainstay, the father’s doorstep speech on a first date. Yet instead of menacing the distaff courter, he yells his way through wise advice about how his beloved child’s choices are her own and always to be respected. Ross’ brother and producer Justin was working for Girls Leadership, a nonprofit empowering young women, and the forwarded the original story to him, Ross said, "And he sent it to me and said, ‘can't you see this piece working in a video format?’"

First, they had to get the rights, so she reached out to author Sophie Kohn, “and she was gung ho about adapting it.” Then the New Yorker gave them the OK (and is now hosting the finished film), and they shot the piece in New Jersey with David Afflick as the father’s physical body – but not his voice. “It didn’t make sense to see his lips moving,” Ross said. "We thought because it was a monologue and you only see the dad speaking the whole time, we knew the visuals were going to live in a different plane." The idea of an intellectual disconnect was inherent in Kohn’s piece, were all the most supportive and caring sections are yelled out in caps lock. "He's shouting about something that's very thoughtful and kind as the father of a teen daughter." While she described Afflick as “amazing, we thought it would be fun to find a recognizable voice."

Having already won Kohn and the New Yorker round, getting on the phone with the agents for a bunch of A-listers was nothing, even if it meant a lot of that “no” she expected to hear. “Some were saying yes with a lot of caveats, some were like 'this guy doesn't wake up for less than 100K." However, Hamm was eager to find space in his schedule to get into the recording booth. After a succession of fearless asks, was directing the Mad Men star nerve-racking? No, Ross said, but for a different reason. "You don't need to direct Jon Hamm a lot."

“If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear to God I'll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth”

• Vimeo (Link)

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Now Streaming in Austin, Meghan Ross, If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear to God I'll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth, The New Yorker, Sophie Kohn, Jon Hamm

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