Your new movie Will
Reading - in a few words, what is it about?
Following the death of her husband, Wendy, her husband's twin and their
friends learn of a second will which prompts them to search the house,
which tests the limits of relationships. Hilarious antics ensue!
were your sources of inspiration when writing Will
So many movies... parodies like Airplane!,
comedies such as Clue, Kevin Smith's earlier work, uhm... The
Goonies, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, musical theater and
everything in between. It really runs the gamut.
Do talk about
Reading's brand of humour for a bit!
referential humor. When you grow up watching The Simpsons (certainly
a source of inspiration I should have mentioned previously) and with
people that love movies as much as I do, it's always a delight to drop a
quote into a conversation. It was a sort of unspoken game by high
school. I also like the Seinfeld sort of observational humor,
situational humor, and of course, it's always funny to watch someone fall
on the ground. People have been laughing at that one since farce was
invented. I tried to mix all that stuff into the screenplay as best
Reading was filmed pretty much all in one location - so how
limiting or perhaps liberating was that for you as a director, and what
can you tell us about your location in the first place?
say that 99% of the movie is filmed at one location because we filmed the
green screen stuff at the house, too. I shot some green
screen plates and establishing shots for cutaways in a few other
locations, but mostly, we were just at the house. I intentionally
wrote the screenplay this way so we wouldn't get to a point where we
couldn't shoot something. When you don't really have any money, you
can't exactly write a liquor store robbery into your screenplay! As the
director... it was just what I was handed by my other self - meaning me as
the producer, so I just did the best I could. As the person dealing
with the lights and running the camera, I was often muttering to myself,
"There's no room for lights in these rooms" or "There
aren't a lot of choices for shooting" and stuff like that. So
when you shoot a movie in a house with small rooms, it all comes down to
physical space - where can I hide the lights, where can I put the camera,
make sure the actors aren't tripping on stuff... sometimes the actors
would have to walk past the camera and their mere footsteps would shake
the tripod because there just wasn't any room. But on the other
hand, since I had control of the house, we were never limited by anything
other than "I'm exhausted, let's knock off for the day because we
all have to work tomorrow."
can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?
Big question! I'll start with actors. Since I had worked
with all of the actors except Katie Weigl before, I had a good idea of
what'd they'd bring, so I basically tried to stay out of their hair.
And I had to worry about the camera, lights, the mic, the props, the set
dressing and a bunch of other things, so there wasn't always time to
talk a lot. Katie turned out to be brilliant, so that was lucky as
I cast her without seeing anything and she ended up carrying
the movie with ease as the lead. Before we would start shooting, I
would usually just talk about the scene, remind the characters where
they were in the story as, like most movies, we didn't film in sequence
and just go in and tweak in between takes if I was looking for something
As for the visual part of directing, I wanted the lights to generally be
nice and as even as I could make them given time, space and equipment -
nothing too dramatic for comedy. I generally wanted to shoot on a
flatter plane so, again, we wouldn't have anything too severe. Did
you see the first Thor movie? I love Kenneth Branagh, but
those dutch angles
(www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0oDm4J3YOg) were, in my opinion, out of place. I did do a few
things with color (lights), I shot a lot with the shoulder mount rather
than always being on the tripod, I created movement in post A LOT... I
tried to bunch the actors together earlier in the film and then spread
them out and then back together again in the blocking and photography to
show them first as old friends, then growing apart and finally coming
back together again. If there was more room and more time, I would
have liked to have composed the shots with more levels of depth, but it
just wasn't usually in the cards.
also appear in front of the camera in Will
Reading - so do talk about your character and your approach to
him, and did you write him with yourself in mind?
I figured it would turn out that way, me playing Will and Wayne. I
certainly knew I wasn't going to cast real twins! I very much
wanted one to have a beard and one not, and asking someone to grow,
shave, grow again based on the schedule and pickup shots seemed like too
much to ask, and it's a small part, but I still struggled to memorize my
As for the performance... well, Will was easy since he's barely in the
movie. Wayne was much harder - he's something of an antagonist,
but he's not a very serious person, either. So I tried to keep
that in mind when I was writing and when I was playing him - he's always
a bit annoyed by everyone, especially Wendy, and just a disagreeable
person in general. I tried to bring that to what I'm charitably
referring to as my performance.
can you tell us about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?
I started writing the second draft, I knew I wanted those three guys;
Dan Conrad for Dave, Greg Vorob for Steve and Marc Seidenstein for
Tom. I've known these guys since... I dunno, 2000? And I knew
they were capable, so I started writing with them in mind. Dan is
hilarious, but when the other side comes out, it's so genuine... there's
this tiny moment in the movie where Dave is speaking to Tom in the
basement in front of the books and Dave says, "Yeah, me too,"
and it's just a brief second, but it's magic. Greg had a lot to
balance - his character has more than one motivation and is serious but
juvenile... there's a lot of duality there that Greg was able to
capture. Poor Marc, on the other hand, was given an underwritten
role that he filled out beautifully. His arc is set up, but there's
not a lot of explanation... some, but not much. And he made it
happen. I also liked that all three of these guys are different
looking dudes. Their hair color, their faces... I don't like when
you watch a movie and there are three dudes who are all six feet tall,
weigh 180 pounds, are jacked, all have brownish hair and are all thirty
years old - they even end up sounding the same. Film is a visual
medium, so I thought these three guys would look good next to each other,
look different, and that would help from a character standpoint,
too. With Katie, I just got lucky. The first person I
contacted for Wendy agreed but had to drop out, the second turned out to
have bigger things on her plate and she recommended Katie. Her
character has motivation, but it couldn't have been easy even though she
made it look that way. In the first draft, she was more of a
villain-ish character but ended up being a protagonist by the time we got
to the shooting draft, so it took me a while as the writer to find that
character, but Katie dunked all over the place.
talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
Dan, Greg, Marc and I all knew each other (and they all knew each other
before they knew me), it was like old times, just fun. Or at least
it was for me! There were certainly days when it got giggly.
Again, I was just lucky that Katie turned out to be just as much fun as
everyone else. She came up with this brilliant joke about how there
really was no movie and the opening montage (we shot this the first day of
filming) was just a fictional version of me, a lonely guy, tricking a
woman into cooking him dinner. But in general, I'd say it was a lot
of fun. The actors seemed to enjoy that I was always shoving bottled
water at them whenever there was too much giggling or we needed a break.
They teased me about this method to no end. Shooting could be
physically demanding because I would work at the office all day, then come
to the house, set up the equipment for the shoot by 7, then film the movie
until 10, 11, midnight or later, take the equipment down... But I'd
do it again in a heartbeat.
$64-question of course, when and where will the movie be released onto the
Well, we're in the running for some film
festivals now, so I don't think the general release will be till this fall
Anything you can tell us about critical
and audience reception of Will
I'm reaching out to reviewers, and so far the response has been positive.
Other folks who have screener copies or have otherwise seen the movie
can rate it on IMDb
and we're at 8.5, so at least so far, I'd say people tend to like it
rather than dislike it.
Any future projects you'd like to
I plan to make a documentary about making a no
budget movie - namely, this movie. It'll be on the Blu-ray along
Reading, whenever that happens. I'm also hoping to
get back to my Quick
now that the movie has wrapped.
What got you into filmmaking in the first
place, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?
was always a matter of what I was going to write as I knew that's what I
wanted to do. It was songwriting until I was around 21, then I
wanted to get into film, but I found it even more tedious than recording
with a band, so I settled on short stories and maybe novels. When I
got into webseries and started gathering equipment, making a movie seemed
possible. I took two semesters of TV and one of editing in college,
but the TV classes really just taught me about three point lighting and
how a TV broadcast works and the editing class was more of a "this is
what editing is, this how non-linear editing on a computer works,"
kind of a baby's-first-editor class, which was stuff I already knew.
I always knew I loved movies, but I never thought about going to film
school when I was a kid or anything like that - it all seemed so
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Will
Uhm, not much, really. Most of my
background is in technical theater and live events. I haven't really
worked under anybody, I've just been doing my own thing for a few years
now, and I wouldn't call
what I've been doing
would you describe yourself as a director?
I try to
remember that film is a visual medium, get the most out of what I have,
always make shot lists but don't usually find time to storyboard and let
people do their thing. Let actors act and make suggestions
who inspire you?
My list is probably like a lot of people my age: Scorsese,
Tarantino, Spielberg, Hitchcock, Kevin Smith (probably admire him more
as a writer than a director), Coppola, Kubrick, Nolan... and if
not for sites like Cinemassacre, Chez Apocalypse and Red Letter
Media, I doubt I ever would have realized that this was possible!
Your favourite movies?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Oh, soooo many.
I'll try to make this list too long: Empire Strikes Back, The
Wizard of Oz, Godfather I and II, Clue, The Goonies, Airplane!, The
Fellowship of the Ring, The Breakfast Club, Ghostbusters (original), Indiana
Jones and the Last Crusade, Better Off Dead, The
Clerks, Jackie Brown, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Shawshank Redemption,
Usual Suspects, The Dark
Knight, Winter Soldier, Memento, No Country for
Old Men, Being John Malkovich, City of God, Spirited
Away, Inception, Mad
Max: Fury Road, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and the list
goes on. I could sit here and do this all day. I barely
scratched the surface and only mentioned Hitchcock ONCE
and of course, films you really deplore?
stick in my craw lately... Attack of the Clones, Batman v
Superman, The DC Movie With All the Bad Guys ... bad action movies
really annoy me. And lazy comedies! Did you see Pixels?
My God... and romcoms sure are on a collision course with doom.
How to Be Single comes to mind.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
My website: creativejamie.com/
Reading news and more: creativejamie.com/tag/will-reading/
Reading Facebook: www.facebook.com/willreadingmovie/
My Twitter: twitter.com/CreativeJamieDC
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I think I've prattled on long enough!
for the interview!