The Starz Denver Film Festival closed its doors on another successful event on Sunday, but not before presenting one final award. Jason Ritter won the inaugural Reel Social Club Indie Voice Award, which honors “prominent individuals who help foster an appreciation of film culture within the independent film community.” I chatted with Ritter about his career and upcoming projects.

5280: How does it feel to be the first winner of the Indie Voice Award?

JR: It felt like an acknowledgement. It can get frustrating to do all these movies and feel like no one’s seen them. I try to choose movies that I won’t feel like a liar when I have to sell it later. So it’s just nice to have acknowledgement of all those choices.

What do you like about doing independent films?

Independent films are able to take more risks than big-budget movies, and you get a director’s full vision. No one is on an independent film set for the giant paycheck. You get to work with people who are putting in their time for the love of film, so that’s really cool.

You were nominated for an Emmy for your recurring role on Parenthood. What was that like?

That was so crazy. There was no indication. We submitted an episode just like every [other] year, and then I totally forgot about it. I was in bed; it’s a really early announcement. My phone rang, and I had that feeling like something terrible had happened. I leapt out of bed, and it was the best reversal—it was my best friend saying congratulations.

Any inside scoop on whether your Parenthood character, Mark, will return next season?

All I know is that I’m in until the end of this season, but I have no idea in what capacity. That’s one of the things I really like about television: You’re telling a story that’s unfolding as it happens. It mimics life in that way. With a play or a movie it’s like, ‘That’s the whole story and that’s the end.’ Whereas [in television] it’s like, ‘Well, this is going well right now, but who knows?’ Especially as a recurring character. As a regular, you can be in a hail of bullets and you know you’re going to be fine.

Which do you like better: TV or movies?

The cool thing about television is you get to create a family in a way because you’re with the same group of people for months and months and maybe years. It’s a good thing if you like the people you work with. I’ve also heard the other side, where you’re stuck in hell with people you hate for years. A lot of times with a film, it’s like a wonderful, fun vacation where you all come together and create this thing…but you may never be in the same room again. There’s something nice about that, too.

Upcoming projects—what’s in the lineup?

I’m doing a cartoon for Disney Channel. I’m about to start doing this movie called You’re Not You with Hilary Swank, Josh Duhamel, and Emmy Rossum. It’s a really beautiful script where Hilary’s character gets sick and Emmy is her caretaker. And there are always a couple of independent movies that I love and have talked to directors about, but we are looking for funding.

Where do you want to go with your career? What kids of movies do you want to make?

I’d love to be able to keep doing things that I believe in and love. I want to be proud of the things that I make and not just go, “Sorry everybody, I needed to get paid.” It’s been nice the last couple of years, working on shows like Parenthood or The Event that I really love and have a great time doing, but that also allow me to not have to make desperate choices for films and that allow me to do something smaller but that I love more. Sometimes it’s a delicate balancing act.

—Image courtesy of Starz Denver Film Festival

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