Hannah Marks on ‘Don’t Make Me Go’: Road trips signify many

The director says in the film, which sees a single dad take his teenage daughter on a cross country drive, the road stands for so much more than a means to get from point A to point B

The director says in the film, which sees a single dad take his teenage daughter on a cross country drive, the road stands for so much more than a means to get from point A to point B

Don’t Make Me Go tells the story of Max Parks (John Cho), who after a health scare, decides to teach his teenage daughter, Wally (Mia Isaac) all the life lessons, including how to drive, on a fraught cross country road-trip.

Through the trip to meet with Wally’s mum, Max and Wally learn things about themselves and each other. A road trip, director Hannah Marks says signifies many things. Speaking on a video call from Los Angeles, the 29-year-old actor/writer/director says, “It is about a journey, getting to know each other and the communication that you have when you are on the road with nothing but road in front of you ( laughs).

The Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency actor says she likes road trips as they let the characters see different cultures and places. “It is so much more than just getting from point A to point B. Specifically in this story, I love that that Max gets to teach Wally to drive in this particular road trip. Those are some of my favourite scenes.”

John Cho was the first person to be attached to the movie, says Marks. “I am a huge fan of John’s. He is a wonderful actor and seemed so perfect for this role.”

Stills from the film, featuring John Cho and Mia Isaac
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Once Cho said yes, Marks says, the next step was finding Wally. “We had to find a suitable scene mate for John. We got lucky with Mia Isaac. She auditioned and though she had never done a movie before, she was completely terrific. She was so mature, talented, kind, a great human being and together they were wonderful.”

Though Wally is the narrator and the film is slightly more from her perspective, Marks says, Don’t Make Me Go is both their stories. “It is a coming-of-age story for Wally and Max. It is an equal two-hander.”

The title, Marks says has multiple meanings. “It could be about Max’s health scare or something a teenager would say to their father when they do not want to go on a trip with them. Most teenagers probably do not want to go on a cross-country road trip with their dads ( laughs). I love the double meaning in it.”

The producer, Peter Saraf, thought she would be right for the project according to Marks. “He has done Adaptation (2002), Little Miss Sunshine (2006) and a ton of other great movies. Peter had this script that he was passionate about for a long time. I started interviewing from there.”

Filming on nude beach was memorable, Marks says with a laugh. “Those background actors were so confident, and very fun to talk to. We were shooting in New Zealand and actually got to have dolphins behind these naked people in the beginning of the movie. That was completely unexpected. It is the type of thing where if you tried to hire movie dolphins, you probably would not have got it to work. Yet there we were and the dolphins really jumped ( laughs).

Don’t Make Me Go streams on Amazon Prime Video from July 15