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Directed by: Alysse Leite-Rogers
Synopsis: A waitress at an upscale restaurant reaches her tipping point with a table of difficult customers and concocts a special dish of revenge.
Comedies are so hard to pull off and you and your team have done that. What's the secret to creating good comedies?
I wish I knew because I myself am not funny. But I do see humor all around me because often life, situations, and people are totally absurd. So I guess my short answer is not trying to be funny and actually pulling from past experiences and people you know. The recipe for a successful comedy is first and foremost the cast. followed by a solid script. Then lightly pepper in sound and music to punctuate the story and humor.
The cast is excellent and lead actress Fiona Vrooms timing is impeccable. Did you just say "action" and let her roll with it?
A casting director friend sent me Fiona's audition tape for another project and I instantly knew we had found our "Debbie." She has one of the most expressive faces I've ever seen. You can't take your eyes off her. In post, it was difficult to pick which take to use in her CU's (close-ups) because they were all slightly different but all equally mesmerizing. We met for coffee before the shoot and discussed the character and some back story and the rest was all her. Her timing and instincts are spot on. I never gave her any timing notes because she was too darn good...and I hold that against her.
You've got a veteran cast with actors like Brian Markinson instantly recognizable to Mad Men and Fargo fans, for example. How do you wrangle veteran actors into a new project? Is there one word that gets them excited?
I was lucky to have worked with them over my career as a 1st AD (assistant director) in television so I simply emailed them the script and "the ask." I mean, these are all working, professional actors. Why would they want to do a freebie short film? But they all shockingly said yes! I couldn't believe it and still can't. They were my dream team. I literally imagined them all in my mind's eye while Sean and I were writing. The only person I hadn't worked with was Fiona (and we know what a gem that turned out to be). I was further shocked that everyone's schedule allowed for them to be free those two shooting days. The universe aligned somehow. I was genuinely excited at having them all and I think they felt that.
There is real ensemble feel in this film. How does a director create and control that feeling?
"There are no small parts." I think you get that sense in the film. I think caring and nurturing each character both on the page and on the set whether they have 1 line or 30 lines. Also, casting is everything! These actors owned their characters so completely: their nuances, the dialogue, their ability to listen to one another. I can't say enough how brilliant and bang on they all were.
Who are your comedic films inspirations?
Anything by Christopher Guest. Early Woody Allen. Melissa McCarthy.