Better Living Through Chemistry
The film opens on March 14 at our theatres in Madison, Seattle, Houston and Los Angeles. On Friday and Saturday, March 14 & 15, please join them for a Q&A at Sundance Sunset Cinema in Los Angeles. This interview was a spirited discussion with both gentlemen, and the answers have been combined.
I have to say that I simply love the title of the film, BETTER LIVING THROUGH CHEMISTRY, a variation of a slogan made famous by DuPont. And I found the movie to be simply charming.
That's exactly what we hoped people would come out of the theatre thinking...that it is a charming movie. Some of the characters do some awful things, but you really like them at the same time.
Since there are two of you who co-wrote and co-directed the film...who is going to take credit for the title? And the basic storyline?
We've known and worked together for about 10 years as 'tandems'. We can't really say who came up with all the individual ideas. The way we work is that we start talking about an idea and see where it goes. Specifically for this film, it began with a trip to the local pharmacy for snacks. When we got back to the office, we started to talk about the pharmacist - what kind of life he led. It seemed like it was a fine job - but he looked so miserable. And from there....we begin the 'what if' game. All 'tandems' have their own processes. We tend to work together to build a very tight outline with a fluid story - then we split it down the middle and go off and write our halves. We come back and sew it all together. Works really well for us. We also have a motto: The Best Idea Wins.
You began to write together in 2003 - How did the two of decide to write and direct this film?
We were working as production executives and connived a plan to work ourselves out of a job by writing a script. It was similar in that it was a small character study. While the script didn't get produced, it served its purpose in that it got us signed to a big agency that allowed us to get a foothold in the writing world.
What are some earlier films you've worked on?
We've done a lot of writing for TV, and some writing on some films, but this is our directorial debut, and our first solo writing credits.
That's incredibly impressive. What a great cast for your first film: Jane Fonda, Sam Rockwell, Ray Liotta and Olivia Wilde. How did you get such a great acting team together? Any bumps along the way?
We consider ourselves writers first. So we benefited from a strong script to start with. We began working on the film in 2009 and had Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Garner set to star. But then Jeremy started to get all these huge roles and reschedule, then when Sam became part of the cast, Jennifer got pregnant. We lucked out because Olivia's camp was aware of the script and contacted us. We were so flattered by the folks who raised their hands to be a part of the film. It's long hours - you have to really want to be a part of it.
It seems like Jane Fonda is in this period of relishing her salty/sexy persona. Did she give you some lines or were those all yours?
She is a lot of fun because she was really eager to play - and she pulled that off with great aplomb. Her improv was raunchier than anything scripted.
What bucolic small town was the film shot in?
Annapolis Maryland. In proper, suburbs of Baltimore.
What's next for the two of you?
We're working on developing a show called MOGULS at USA Networks. It's a behind the scenes look at a family run ski-resort.
This interview was conducted by Nancy Gribler, Sundance Cinemas VP of Marketing.
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