An Interview with Director Lorene Scafaria
Published: Saturday, June 30, 2012
Updated: Saturday, June 30, 2012 14:06
Director Lorene Scafaria sat down with the Suffolk Voice to tell us about her directorial debut, "SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD", starring Keira Knightley and Steve Carrel, which is now playing everywhere.
The Voice:So had did your end-of-the-world rom-com come together in the first place?
Lorene Scafaria: I wrote a few drafts of it. I sold it as a pitch with myself attached to direct in 2008, right before ’Nick and Norah’ came out. I worked on it for a couple months, then my Dad got sick, and later passed. So I took about six months off just to hang out with him, and then came back and wrote three more drafts with a whole new perspective. About time, really, more than anything just time.
Once I felt it was ready to go, we had a table read. William Peterson and Adam Brody were a part of that, which was amazing. I couldn’t believe Billy Peterson came out for a table read. I was like, ’MANHUNTER’s here?! This is amazing!’ But yeah, that was a real motivating thing for the studio, hearing it out loud.
But it took a couple months; I needed someone like Steve Carell to get it made. Because obviously I’m like a question mark [to the studio] up to that point! [laughs] So yeah, Steve read the script, and he responded to it, and then he had to meet me and approve whatever this is. [as she points to herself] And then Keira read it as well - once Steve was on board, that was the vote of confidence everyone needed to go on.
The Voice: And how did you manage to get just about every stand-up comedian in LA to cameo?
Lorene Scafaria: I don’t know how we got everybody! Everybody came from different places. I knew Rob Corddry because I had written for "Children’s Hospital," we had been friends for a while. I sort of wrote that part for him, I never knew if it would happen because I didn’t know who Dodge would be, and if he would be age appropriate.
Everyone else was our first choices; I can’t believe we got them all to come out for that. Since it was shot in LA it was so much easier to get people to come down for a day, or a half-a-day. You know, if we were shooting in Atlanta, then it would’ve been a lot harder to get Patton Oswalt to come down for that kind of cameo.
The Voice:Is it a major challenge trying to end the world without a budget?
Lorene Scafaria: For sure! When writing it I wanted the scope to stay pretty small, and I never wanted to see the asteroid or the sky or anything like that. So I wasn’t sure what would be - you’d be surprised what’s the most expensive thing to do. Locations, really. At the time I was also thinking: you can make a movie for what they give you. I just had to sort it out. But yeah, a movie on this scale with this kind of people involved.... It was stretching the dollars everywhere.
The Voice: It seems like you were consciously trying to drop conventional rom-com beats, like the meet cute, with the crazy apocalyptic angle in the background.
Lorene Scafaria: I knew it was a bit of a mash-up between these two genres, but I figured it out as I went. I realized, you know, of course people would be rioting, so we’ll have a riot. But in the romantic comedy world, this is a break-up scene. So it was things like that, every bit of the way, realizing I had to take these two genres and make them collide. And there is a traditional romantic-comedy structure, but the backdrop made it so much more fun, to write these scenes-within-scenes.
The Voice: There’s been a LOT of apocalypse films lately, from "Melancholia" and "Take Shelter" to "4:44" and "Contagion."
Lorene Scafaria: Yeah, there have been a lot of end-of-the-world films. But I saw it more as a backdrop for a romantic comedy... or at least as a relationship movie. I remember so many from the late 1990s, when like "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon" came out at the exact same time. The one thing in "Deep Impact" that got me was Tea Leoni and her father standing on the beach when the big wave is coming, and I cared about them. I cared about this relationship that was happening.
And those movies continued to come out, but during "The Day After Tomorrow" I cared more about Jake Gyllenhaal having a crush on a girl more than his father in the tundra. So I really wanted to explore more what people’s behavior would be like, and how that would be changed.