Gay director Jamie Travis makes feature bow with the potty humor of ‘’ Bridesmaids’
Last year’s hit Bridesmaids showed that women can get as down and dirty in a comedy with bathroom humor and outrageous antics as the boys can. But the new comedy For a Good Time, Call…, opening Friday, may take that notion even further. Lauren and Katie, two New York women who can’t stand each other due to an unfortunate urine incident, bridge the gap when they set up a phone-sex line.
Out director Jamie Travis and leads Lauren Ann Miller (who also co-wrote the script) and Ari Gaynor talk about the making of the raunchy film that has a heart and a whole lot of dildos. We talked to all three about dildos, the relationship between straight women and gay men and the film’s similarities to Schindler’s List.
— Rich Lopez
Dallas Voice: Obviously this is a comedy, but it has serious issues relevant today. There’s the girl power, a love story between friends and even nods to economic times with the two being creative about jobs. Lauren Ann Miller: Well, we’re really intelligent and smart so we put all that in there from the beginning.
Ari Gaynor: It was a lot deeper than Schindler’s List.
Miller: What was intentional was the story of female friendship and how people can change your life. This is a discovery film and you think you’re getting a raunchy movie — which you are — but you get more.
Gaynor: I do think you’re being really modest about the script. She and Katie [Anne Naylon] are both smart writers, and without it becoming an issue film, it was layered with these certain realities of today.
Jamie Travis: The love story forms the structure. This is what female friendship looks like and yeah, sometimes people find themselves taking a job they wouldn’t expect to feed themselves.
OK, let’s just get this out of the way. This film had some major cock action — even if the members in question were synthetic. Gaynor: Well clearly we’re not prudish girls!
Travis: I don’t know much about dildos, but for that one scene, it was important the dildo be bigger and veinier than ever should be. The comedy of that moment required a gasp-worthy dildo. You’ll know it.
Miller: Well, some other props were a little more intense but it’s just supposed to be fun and poking fun at the situation and we do that with a gigantic black dildo.
Did you name them? Both: Yes!
Gaynor: There was Earl, the big black one, Kevin, the one her character suggests [my character] to use. And in the scene with the parents, there was like Chad, the big white one.…
Miller: I think it’s funny when they have really normal names like Jonathan and Steven.
So in this environment, what made you laugh most? Gaynor: Justin Long for me. I could not keep it together. I thought I’d ruin every single take.
Miller: He was on fire. We had a 16-day shoot so we had to get it together!
Travis: He’s a force to be reckoned with. I will say I didn’t know his immense talent until working with him. He understood the needs of the film.
The cameos were fun. How did you wrangle those? Miller: Sexual favors. But Seth Rogen’s my husband, so it’s OK.
Travis: With the cameos, they were gonna come up with stuff and say things you could never imagine.
Gaynor: Seth went off the rails.
Miller: But Kevin Smith is a friend. Martha MacIsaac is a friend. It was fun.
Did you know each other before the film? Miller: No, but we wrote it with her in our heads. No one else could be Katie.
Gaynor: Oh, God, it was the most flattering offer. When you feel like people get you, it’s such a gift. Right off the bat, it was a meta-experience.
Were you all relating to the characters? Travis: I saw myself in both of them. They are these archetypal characters. Katie is brazen but clearly it’s a façade. I’ve been that person. And I’ve also been Lauren being limited in my perspective sometimes.
Gaynor: There’s a lot I relate to in Katie. I think she’s much more vulnerable than you think. I understand that.
Miller: I hope I’m not as boring and straight and narrow as fictional Lauren. I like to say I’m funny sometimes, like my mom said to me.
Jamie, how did you get to direct this as your first feature? Travis: I always knew women and gay men would embrace this. These are the movies I’m drawn to. I was obsessed with those female-driven comedies of the ’80s as a kid. I felt this was a new and fresh take on that. When I interviewed for this film, I didn’t have much of a sales pitch. I remember saying, “I think you need a gay man to direct this film. So much of what I love is the utter reverence for women.” As a gay man, I had so much access to women. To read a script that captures the intricacies of female friendship, when it felt like I hadn’t seen one before … how could I not make this?
How did you direct Justin Long in playing the very gay Jesse? Travis: I didn’t wanna put out a movie with a flagrant stereotype. Neither did he. He wanted to use me as inspiration and I was totally on board with that. [Laughs] He’s so alive and unpredictable; you kind of let him go.
Your characters are Jesse’s besties. Who’s the bigger fag hag? Miller: I envision they each do different things. I feel like Lauren and Jesse would have a fancy brunch and shop at Bergdorf’s while he and Katie would go to Shake Shack and vintage shopping in Brooklyn. They each give Jesse something else.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 31, 2012.