Interview with Katherine Dieckmann
If you caught A Good Baby recently on HBO, you saw a small story of great power: a young
man, scarred by childhood trauma, awakens to love when confronted with the consequences of
another family’s tragedy. While hunting in the woods, Toker (Henry Thomas) stumbles across an
abandoned newborn. His struggles to solve the mystery of its abandonment expose the best and
the worst of his community.
You might also have noticed, even through the video screen, the stunningly beautiful
cinematography, which evokes the lyrical in a North Carolina hill landscape in springtime. Your
ears probably perked up to hear fresh interpretations of classic folk music.
Director Katherine Dieckmann’s debut fi ction feature is a rare achievement in independent fi lm,
consistently rescuing experience from cliché. Dieckmann, who began her career by working as
a fi lm and literary critic, has made several music videos and co-developed the ground breaking
children’s program “The Adventures of Pete & Pete” for Nickelodeon, and teaches advanced
screen writing at Columbia University.
She spoke with Center Director Pat Aufderheide about how she launched the fi ve-year-long
project, how she attracted name actors, and what she learned about directing.
How did you decide to do this story?
I fi rst read the book when I was doing a column on paperback books for The Village Voice. I
remember at the time I was renting a farmhouse in Pennsylvania, and I sat up in bed and read it
in one sitting. The novel is very different from what I ended up doing with it, but the essential
story of a guy who is reclusive and is opened up emotionally by the baby was very appealing.
Also there was the fateful sense of good and evil.
It’s also a part of the country you don’t see that much, although you will more soon. There’s
Maggie Greenwald’s movie, Song Catcher, which is also opening in December, and was shot
very close to where A Good Baby was shot near Asheville, North Carolina. Also her husband
David Mansfi eld s