Alan (Justin Rice), a musician whose band has just broken up, shows up in New York to pursue his burgeoning rock and roll career. He starts by searching for a drummer for a show he’s already lined up, and otherwise goes about the mechanics of self-promotion. He finds a champion in Sara (Seung-Min Lee), a radio DJ who sets her sights on a submissive but uninterested Alan—and finds him a drummer. In his down time, Alan drinks and strategizes with his old friend Lawrence (Bujalski), a grad student, and Lawrence’s girlfriend Ellie (Rachel Clift), a journalist. Alan endeavors to keep his shoulder to the wheel, while Ellie finds herself compelled by him. The attraction is mutual, but both parties are reluctant to take a next step.
Andrew Bujalski’s first feature film, Funny Ha Ha, was released theatrically in the summer of 2005 by Goodbye Cruel Releasing and is available on DVD. A.O. Scott of The New York Times was kind enough to include it in his Top 10 Films of 2005 list and Dennis Lim of The New York Times followed up with a feature on Andrew and both his films. Funny Ha Ha's long road towards distribution actually landed it the unique honor of making a Top 10 Film list in 3 years: in 2005, 2004 by Film Comment and Cinemaspeak, and 2003 by The Boston Phoenix.

At the 2004 Independent Spirit Awards, Bujalski won the “Someone to Watch” award. The Boston Globe describes him as “unerringly polite and somewhat disheveled.” He types 89 wpm.
Justin Rice (Alan) sings and plays guitar in the band Bishop Allen. The other lead singer of Bishop Allen, Christian Rudder, played one of the leads in Funny Ha Ha. Their debut album Charm School received four stars from Jane, in addition to praise from GQ, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice and many others. NPR’s “Weekend Edition” ran a feature story on the group in 2003. Bishop Allen is in the process of self-releasing one four-song EP for every month in 2006. The songs Justin plays in Mutual Appreciation are his own and Bishop Allen’s.
Many of Mutual Appreciation’s other cast members are filmmakers: in addition to director Andrew Bujalski, Bill Morrison, and Justin Rice (whose short documentary Look Back, Don’t Look Back had a tremendous festival run beginning in 1999), other filmmakers in the cast include Pamela Corkey (Easy Listening), Kate Dollenmayer (experimental shorts including The Whole Other Side to My Busyness), Salvatore Botti (Dreams of Her), and Rachel Clift (doc short Take It from Me). Bill Morrison (Walter) makes his acting debut in Mutual Appreciation. He is an experimental filmmaker who has five films in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, including Decasia.
The producers, Ethan Vogt, Morgan Faust, and Dia Sokol, have worked in many different roles on many different projects. Ethan shot and co-edited the award-winning doc On Common Ground and produced Funny Ha Ha. Ethan has been working with Andrew for more than 10 years and is a commercial director at Furnace Media in New York, a production company that focuses on film and 3D graphic design with an interest in live A/V performance. Morgan and Dia both worked on Errol Morris' First Person series for IFC, and Dia also worked on Morris' Academy Award winning film, The Fog of War, on Morgan Spurlock's next film, and as a producer on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and #1 Single.