The basic idea had come to me back in October. The film is a little different from previous ones that I've attempted, as it's basically a formal parody. Unlike the genre parodies of filmmakers like Mel Brooks or the Zuckers, this approach focuses more on the formal conventions of certain types of films - in this case, the indie "mumblecore" films. The film also kids some of the genre conventions as well, but it's as much about the way that those films are shot and directed. As I was developing the idea to write the script, Charles Tashiro made some very helpful suggestions for dialogue that helped me give shape to the script and inform the approach I was going to take with the delivery of the lines.
Another major source of inspiration was J.S. Watson's delightfully surreal Tomatoes Another Day, an avant garde short film from 1930 parodying the then-new medium of talking pictures. As I was also attempting a formal parody, Watson's Dadaist take on an early sound romantic drama provided a great model.
With the script written and the approach I wanted to take with the film clearly in my mind, I called on my friend Jim Gisriel, whom I had worked with before on The Wolfman in New York and The Scam, to play one of the two roles. I also called on my sister, Leslie, to play the title role, as she and I have worked together many times on my comedy projects, and I knew she and Jim would work well together in these roles.
The filming was scheduled for Sunday December 8th, to begin at noon. The set was my kitchen in my apartment, dressed to look like a studio apartment in Brooklyn. We had everything ready to go by 10:45am, so we went ahead and began filming early. Jim and Leslie nailed their lines, and we were completely finished shooting by 12:15!
Zoey's Guide to Real Life has certainly been one of the smoothest shoots I've ever had. It was great working with Jim and my sister again, and was a lot of fun making another comedy. 2013 seems to have been a year for comedies again for me, between this project and Dinner, which I shot back in March. I expect to have the film edited and available online at my vimeo channel within the next week. Look for it soon!