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Rob Ackerman On Producing & Co-Writing Stargazer, Working With Alan McIntyre

April 30, 2024 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Stargazer Image Credit: Freestyle Digital Media

The 411 Interview: Rob Ackerman

Image Credit: Rob Ackerman

Rob Ackerman is a writer and producer who has been involved in the movie business off and on, according to his imdb page, since at least 1998. Ackerman’s first feature film as a screenwriter was Origin of the Species, which was released in 1998. Ackerman’s latest movie as a producer and writer is the comedy drama Stargazer, directed by Alan McIntyre and set to hit all major digital Video On Demand platforms and DVD starting April 30th, 2024 from Freestyle Digital Media. In this interview, Ackerman talks with this writer about producing Stargazer, working with director Alan McIntyre, co-writing the screenplay with star Kate Ginna, and more.


Image Credit: Freestyle Digital Media

Bryan Kristopowitz: How did you get involved with Stargazer?

Rob Ackerman: A long time ago I read a book called E=MC2 by David Bodanis. It talks about Cecilia Payne, and her story really ticked me off. She did this amazing work and made a brilliant discovery and we should know who the hell she is. See? I’m still angry.

BK: What attracted you to the story of Stargazer?

RA: My mom was an identical twin and I have two sisters and three female cousins and a brilliant wife and two strong daughters, and any form of injustice toward women makes me crazy. But I’m also a man who sees the way men take advantage of their privilege, so I’m battling my own worst angels here.

Image Credit: Freestyle Digital Media

BK: Describe your working relationship with Stargazer director Alan McIntyre.

RA: Alan McIntyre is a beast of a filmmaker who has worked as cinematographer on over a hundred movies. He doesn’t just keep promises, he exceeds them. Alan told me at the start that taking criticism was his superpower, and it turned out to be true. He was ready to work endlessly on every aspect of the story until he got it right. So, yes, we shot Stargazer on a shoestring, but I think Alan made it look like a million bucks.

BK: What was the hardest part of making Stargazer for you as a producer?

RA: Producing is way out of my comfort zone. I’m just a humble writer. So my first call once it looked like we might actually be doing this was Justus Mclarty. I’d worked with Justus when he was in charge of the SNL Film Unit and I was in charge of the props. Justus started his career planning wilderness trips, so he knows what it takes to survive, literally, and he’s a master of doing the impossible and rolling with punches. It helped that Rider University let us use its campus as a back lot and dorms for lodging. Maybe the hardest parts were shooting in the rain in a forest, working all night, and coping with a plague of locusts. It was all hard, dude. If you wanna add anxiety to your life, make an indie.

Image Credit: Freestyle Digital Media

BK: Describe your working relationship with your Stargazer co-writer Kate Ginna.

RA: I’ve known Kate Ginna since she was a baby on a blanket in the corner of a gym where I played volleyball with her parents. She’s smart, demanding and gritty AF. I won’t say our collaboration was seamless, but when Kate had issues as a writer or actor, she’d march up to me and ask for what she wanted and I’d say yes. Kate was 25 when we shot the movie. That’s precisely the age our genius astronomer was when she discovered the substance of the universe. I think Kate handled all of her roles beautifully. She won Best Actress at two major film festivals and also Best Screenplay.

BK: How did you come up with the tone of Stargazer? Is it appropriate to call Stargazer a comedy or is it more of a comedy-drama?

RA: We thought it was a sort of a dramedy but the actors turned it into a romance. I credit Matt Bogart for getting that going. He understood that people tend to focus more on sex than science. Duh.

Image Credit: Freestyle Digital Media

BK: What is your favorite scene in Stargazer?

RA: I love the sequence when Grace and Diana get Spike naked. Every moment of their strategy is fun to watch. It’s such a bizarre and magical seduction– and completely believable. From the moment we wrote it, to the time when Lei Nico brought her patented fire to the party, it never fails to slay me.

BK: Your first movie, according to imdb, is the drama Origin of the Species which came out in 1998. Why did it take 26 years to get involved in another movie?

RA: That’s a great question, Bryan. That film starred Amanda Peet and Jean Louisa Kelly and Michael Kelly of House of Cards; and the director, Andres Heinz, went on to write Black Swan, which was nominated for five Academy Awards in 2010 and won Best Actress for Natalie Portman. But none of those people were famous when we made Origin. I’m an old school playwright who loves the jeopardy of live performances and thought I’d never do another movie. But Covid shut down the theaters and this story wanted to get told. I’m very happy we did it, and so proud of the people involved.

BK: Any moviemaking heroes?

RA: Lots of them: William Goldman, Greta Gerwig, Spike Lee, Nicole Holofcener, Woody Allen, Alexander Payne, and basically all American auteurs, including my bosses at SNL, as challenging as they could be.

BK: Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

RA: I’m working on this musical called Volleygirls with Eli Bolin and Sam Forman, a new play with Kate Ginna called Backtalk, and another play that it’s too soon to talk about

BK: What do you hope audiences get out of Stargazer?

RA: I hope people leave it feeling tickled and inspired and maybe a bit more brave. And I’m glad they’ll know about this forgotten woman of science.

BK: Any chance of doing a historical drama based on the Cecilia Payne story?

RA: We wrote it– or at least outlined it– but we didn’t feel ready to do a period piece since both of us like to say the word “fuck” all the time.

Image Credit: Freestyle Digital Media

BK: Any chance of a “Helen the librarian” spin-off?

RA: Let’s do it.

BK: Have you ever been deliberately naked in a library in real life?

RA: In my dreams.

Image Credit: Freestyle Digital Media


A very special thanks to Rob Ackerman for agreeing to participate in this interview and to david j. moore for setting it up.

Stargazer will be available on all major digital Video On Demand platforms and DVD starting April 30th, 2024. Buy it on DVD here.

Check out the official Stargazer website here!

Check out the official Stargazer Instagram page here!

Check out my review of Stargazer here!

Check out Rob Ackerman’s official Facebook page here and official Twitter page here!

Rob Ackerman headshot courtesy of Rob Ackerman. All other images courtesy of Freestyle Digital Media.

article topics :

Stargazer, Bryan Kristopowitz