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When Mary (Amy Seimetz) returns to work after her maternity leave, Paul (Thomas J. Madden) is in charge of their "spirited" baby, Pearl, as he struggles to write a screenplay.  Mary misses Pearl terribly, but her benefits are the only security to family has.  As Paul's disinterest in his work grows, money becomes tighter and his attachment to Pearl intensifies - Mary is left out in the cold.  It all comes to a head one day when Paul's good nature gets the best of him and he quickly becomes the jerk he thought he'd never be.

Director’s Statement

“Your life is going to change!” warned each young parent my wife and I ran into before our daughter, Tessa, was born.  We knew it would, but we also didn’t know which parts of our life would change.  In the trying first months of Tessa’s life it was clear that our engagement with the outside world would be the first casualty.  The emotional attachment to Tessa informed our every thought.  Our work and social consciousness – the things that seemed so important just months prior - lost most of their meaning.  We were committed to creating a loving environment for Tessa, but we struggled to figure out how to also provide her with material comfort and security.  That’s where things get messy in today’s economy and in the life of a non-commercial artist.  My wife had a physical connection to our daughter and wanted nothing more than to stay home, but her job and benefits were our security.  I wanted nothing more than to work to provide for them both, but couldn’t find a decent job, nor could I find time and interest to create.  This is the central dilemma I wanted to explore in Be Good:  In this day of economic dog-eat-dog, how can you be a good parent while simultaneously having meaningful work and being charitable?  And every parent’s dilemma – you seemingly need ego and ambition to be successful in this world, but at what point do these things impede you from being a positive role model for your child?

As is the case with many of my films, the concepts of the film and the means of production became intertwined.  Since I was at home watching Tessa all day, I figured that I needed to be doing something that might advance my career.  So I drew up a detailed script outline, a schedule, a meager budget and locations that would allow us to make the film while not compromising my parental duties. Over the course of two separate weeks in June and July of 2011, we shot the film mostly in my apartment and in the picturesque Ravenswood Manor neighborhood of Chicago.    

Most of the production came together after a screening of Joe Swanberg’s Uncle Kent. Joe’s baby, Jude, and Tessa were born about a week apart at the same hospital, so there was no doubt Joe and Jude would be in the film.  Joe also connected me with Amy Seimetz – named among Indiewire’s “Top 25 Actors of 2011” - who generously agreed to work within our budget.  Joe also connected me with accomplished no-budget Chicago filmmaker Frank V. Ross, who recorded the sound, who then connected me with filmmaker and cinematographer, Mike Gibisser.  Finally, Thomas J. Madden, a professional actor, long-time friend and lead in my previous feature, LEFTY, enthusiastically agreed to play the part of Paul and help Produce the film.  Working with a baby, without a budget on a tight schedule complete with nap allowances was extremely difficult, but then again…so is parenting.

-Todd Looby, Writer / Director:  Be Good

This project is partially supported by a Community Arts Assistance Program grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.