Fresh off the snowy trails of the Sundance Film Festival, this laugh out loud comedy will leave audiences nursing splitting sides.
After despising each other in college, quirky free spirit Katie (Ari Graynor) and tightly-wound Lauren (Lauren Anne Miller) are forced to move in together due to financial circumstances. Polar opposites in everything from wardrobe to ambition, comedy can do nothing but ensue. Upon discovering the job market is less than opportune, Lauren discovers Katie’s secret late night job as a sex phone operator. Apprehensive at first, Lauren eventually helps Katie to create their own business venture sparking a lucrative partnership and adorable camaraderie. Director Jamie Travis has no fear in letting these brilliant actresses play it like the boys. Filled with gross gags and impressively coarse language, the final message is one of friendship.
i-D online sat down with Jamie Travis to discuss how funny it is to make a raunchy sex comedy in 15 days.
What attracted you to this story? Before this film I had never directed somebody else’s script so I had always been very careful. I had been reading scripts for years and nothing had really struck my fancy until this one. I laughed out loud, I felt emotional, and I wanted to read it again immediately as soon as I finished it. I think one of the things that drew me to it was the extent to which the story is a celebration of women, but at the same time doesn’t take itself too seriously. I’ve always made comedies but I’ve never made comedies that are this broad. I was actually surprised given the subject matter that I fell in love with it the way I did.
How did you find focussing solely on directing? It gives you a certain sense of freedom. When I made my short films, which I’ve written as well, they always come from a very personal place. Every film is like going through a car crash. Somehow your whole life is on the line when you’ve written it and you’re directing it, or that’s been my experience. My plan is to write and direct again, but this film was a great experience in which I didn’t feel the grip of death on me at all times!
What was it like making the transition from short to feature films? Funny a lot of people have asked that and the difference is minimal. Its length doesn’t really change what it is. I direct 30-second commercials, I direct 20-minute short films and now I direct 90-minute feature films. It doesn’t really change the methodology. You have to treat each day as if you’re making the most important thing ever, but the transition was very smooth. As a director you have to get into gear, you just have to go. There’s very little time to second-guess yourself. Had this had been a more luxurious shoot maybe I would have been hampered down by emotional distress, I don’t know, but the way it was all set up it clicked along in the way that it had to.
Who are your favorite filmmakers? It’s funny they both fall into the horror genre. The Shining and Rosemary’s Baby have really left an imprint on me. I’m definitely drawn towards formal filmmakers, who have their own spin on things, but it’s funny since we sold the film to Focus Features, I’ve always been a fan of James Schamus, as a screen writer. The Ice Storm was one of the first films that really made me think about film in a different way and really led me down a path of being a filmmaker.
You mentioned you had some budget restrictions on this film. Do you think the financial constraint added to the humour? We had to shoot ten days in one apartment. Weeks before the shoot we had to start taking all these scenes that took place in other environments and other locations and place them into the apartment. We had to make the most of our locations because it was an expensive location for our budget and so it actually did lead to some humour. Something we got out of it was the sense that the girls never leave their apartment. In a sense limitations always lead to something good. I will not shoot another film in 15 days, I assure you, but in many ways the limitations were a positive for us.
What is your goal as a filmmaker? My goal as a filmmaker is to tell interesting stories in interesting ways and it’s funny because in my past with short films I’ve used my filmmaking as therapy to a huge extent. A lot of them are autobiographical, not on a conscious level, but years later I’ll look back on the film and see how much of me is in there. I feel like I’m at this new point in my career where I feel more sane. It’s really about exploring the things that fascinate me.
So when you look back on For A Good Time Call… what will you recall as being autobiographical? Not being the writer, not having the entire thing on my shoulders. It was very much a collaborative process with the writers and with the actors and with the producers. To see that a film can be made that way is very new for me because I’m used to really running the show and I know in the future I will probably run the show again in terms of if I make a feature film that’s more personal. In a sense I’ve been able to relax in this process as a filmmaker. Not that I was lazy at all, but to take that pressure off the shoulders, it just showed me a new way to make films and I think that will affect my filmmaking progress from here on in.
What’s next for you? I don’t know. I’m reading a lot of scripts. I’m writing a script, but I’m pretty certain that my own script is not going to be my next movie. I’m reading a lot of, not surprisingly, sex comedies. I certainly run the risk of becoming the sexy comedy guy, but I’m just kind of holding out for the right script and doing a lot of reading right now.
For A Good Time Call will be out later this year.
Text: Lily Avnet