Why this script/concept? How does it reflect your vision as a commercial director?
There was something about it that was just different to me. I'm drawn to this odd type of stuff. As much as I like this wacky single character stuff, I love a good narrative. This one delivered on both. To add tho the awesomeness- David Mackereth, the copywriter, turned out to be a blasty blast. We've stayed in touch since and worked on 2 projects together now. Can't wait to actually meet him in person!
What was the casting process like?
We held a few casting sessions in Hollywood at a dumpy little theatre in a sketchy back room. Since the story was linear, and there was no dialogue, the casting sessions were largely improvisation. I'd pose a few different scenarios to try and flex the actors' ability to show love, but also to show loneliness. Desperation in disguise basically was what I was after. After many auditions, I wound up casting Mike who was a good friend of my first AD Adrienne. He had all the right stuff; the look I wanted, the sensibilities- he was a great choice. Mike and Adrienne wound up suggesting Jenna, who was a great match with Mike asthetically and she had the skills to match. Although her role was small, she's certainly worth her salt in terms of ability to act. The other smaller players were friends and friends of friends who came through in a pinch.
How did you search for/lock a location?
I knew I wanted a big open-airy feel to peanut butter guy's place. I was trying to push the hipster vibe on this one and it was great of my friend Heda to allow us to use her loft in DTLA. From there, all the pieces fell into place. We used my office for the cubicle and elevator scenes and after originally wanting to shoot on a bus for the commute scene decided to "settle" for gorilla style in the subway.
How did you select your DP, crew?
Juan Luna has become my go-to guy. We both really love working together and his style is completely in sync with my visual preferences. He's a big minimal-lighting/natural-key type of guy which I love. Where there's truth in visuals there's truth in story and that was important to me. My producer, Minh Dao, is my go to guy and is always up for a challenge which this one certainly was. The rest of the crew was an amalgamation of people I've got in my GooglDex. The whole crew was kick-ass as usual.
How did shooting go? Any challenges?
Shooting went alright for the most part. We decided to try and shoot the whole thing in one day. This basically entailed 1 company move and then a skeleton crew for the gorilla subway shoot. The day had it's ups and downs. We were told that the apartment location we had secured would also let us use the hallways and the lobby to shoot the interaction with the girl and dog and also the elevator sequence. Unfortunately for us, that wasn't the truth. We wound up getting kicked out of the hallway twice, but managed to get the scene.
The lobby was a big no-go. So, as you can imagine, this messed up both the shooting schedule as well as the actor's schedules. It shook me momentarily but I quickly decided to push off the elevator scene till later and to jump in the subway earlier than planned to grab the commute shots. The guy who was supposed to play the elevator dude had a tight schedule and bailed on us when he found out we wouldn't be shooting his scene at that location. We wound up round-tripping back to the office we started at the first part of the day just to catch that elevator bit right before the sun went down. My good friend Mika, who isn't actor, stepped up and played the role of "elevator guy". People tell me reaction to PB guy is their favorite part-- which is a great little nugget. Oddly enough, shooting a strange peanut butter-faced man in the subway with a gargantuan configured Red One was the most fun part. Juan, my DP, and I still joke about it. People were giving us all kinds of looks.
Tell us about editing and finishing.
My friend Ben Cox did the cut and really got the vibe down with the music track that I picked. I was super stoked on how fluidly all those shots I planned cut together. There were a few challenges that held up the project in post for a few months. It took some time to animate the computer screen and then composite those shots in. A friend of mine at RG/A in NYC helped with the compositing. He did a bang up job.
In retrospect, is there anything you would have done differently?
Yes. I would have made sure that the locations I wanted were completely secured and not relied on friends and their word. Big no-no- especially when you're spending money on other things and have people on tight schedules. Additionally, I would have re-thought make-up and pushed for a test. Unfortunately for me, I made the decision to shoot jelly girl as strawberry jelly. It's impossible to tell, but she was red on the shooting day. We fixed it in post ;)
Don't be afraid to do something that you personally think is rad. Theres a lot of people that have told me it kind of grosses them out. For me, being able to make people uncomfortable at first, then resolve with an 'ah-ha' "that was cute" moment within 60 seconds made the risk worth while. Go with you're gut- someone will take notice eventually. Big words from a guy that hasn't made it yet, I know- but I'm keeping the faith.