02-19-2006, 12:30 AM
For those familiar with Christopher Guest's movies (This is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, Mighty Wind), For Your Consideration is his next movie.
Those of you who aren't, I highly recommend you rent or buy any of those movies, as they're ridiculously funny.
Here's a synopsis of this movie that I ran across:
Synopsis: Christopher Guest turns the camera on Hollywood for his next film, "For Your Consideration." The film focuses on the making of an independent movie and its cast who become victims of the dreaded awards buzz. Like Guest's previous films, Waiting For Guffman, Best In Show and A Mighty Wind, this latest project will feature performances from his regular ensemble, including co-writer Eugene Levy.
And here's the first pic released from the movie:
11-15-2006, 01:46 PM
Guest & Levy Ask For Your Consideration
Source: Edward Douglas
November 15, 2006
It's been ten years since Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy first collaborated on Waiting for Guffman, bringing together an amazing ensemble of comic actors to tell a story of small town show biz i.e. community theatre. That improvisational crew has expanded greatly since then with the follow-ups Best in Show and A Mighty Wind and just about every single one of them is back for their fourth collaboration, For Your Consideration, which once again looks at show biz, but this time from more of a Hollywood point of view.
The movie revolves around the making of a small drama called Home For Purim, which suddenly finds itself assailed with Oscar buzz when a journalist visiting the set suggests it on the internet. It affects the entire production, including its veteran leading actors (Catherine O'Hara, Harry Shearer) and the young stand-up comic (Parker Posey), all of whom hope to further their careers with this awards recognition. Meanwhile, the writers (Michael McKean, Bob Balaban) are concerned about the changes being made on-set by the film's director, played by Guest himself. Returning regulars Fred Willard and Jane Lynch play Chuck and Cindy, the hosts of an entertainment show who seem to think Home For Purim will be huge, and Jennifer Coolidge is the film's distracted producer. For Your Consideration also includes small parts for Ricky Gervais ("The Office"), Sandra Oh ("Grey's Anatomy"), Richard Kind and others.
ComingSoon.net spoke to the film's writers Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy, in what Guest thought was one of the nearly 600 interviews he expected to do for the movie. (No, the movie business hasn't made him too cynical.) You can decide for yourself whether they've become a bit like an old married couple after spending so much time together.
ComingSoon.net: You've written four movies together over the course of ten years, so how did the two of you first meet?
Christopher Guest: We were doing a TV show together. Billy Crystal did an HBO special in the '80s and we were both on it, not in the same scenes, then when I was writing "Guffmann" and I had been a fan of Gene's SCTV work...
Eugene Levy: It was the Billy Crystal special in the mid-'80s, but I have to preface that by saying that I was very familiar and a big fan of the work that Chris did in the National Lampoon radio show and records in the early '70s. I knew Gilda Radner and Bill Murray and Paul Schaeffer and people that worked on these albums. Christopher Guest had characters that would just pop with comic brilliance. They were just the most bizarre voice work. I was like who is this guy? That was the name that I always remembered, and when I got to work on the same show and I heard Chris was going to be in this Billy Crystal special, I was tickled to finally meet and watch him. We never had scenes together, but I loved watching him work on the special.
Guest: I called him and asked him if he wanted to work on "Waiting for Guffmann"...
Levy: It was ten years later that I got a call from Chris at home...
Guest: I lost his number.
Levy: And he said he was working on a thing and he asked if I wanted to write a movie. I said, "Sure," but honestly, we had just met, and that was that. And we got together and started working and it was a great relationship for day one. It's a very awkward thing, partnering in writing, which I'd done only once with a friend in Toronto, but other than that, all the work on SCTV and everything else, I wrote on my own. I was nervous about it, because it's not just a question of I knew the guy was talented. I knew that he was brilliantly funny, but I knew that sometimes when you put two people in a room, if your personalities aren't gelling, if someone talks too much and there's too much going on, it's a delicate thing partnering. It's not just how well you write together. It's how well you exist in a room together. It worked right from Day 1. It was kind of miraculous that the process seemed to work so well. We made each other laugh easily without effort.
Guest: Eugene has really good hand-writing. We work on legal pads, we don't use computers. As we begun, I began taking notes, and about a half hour later, he looked at the pad and said, "That's the end of that." I have stacks of these legal pads with the notes for these movies.
CS: This being your fourth film together, how was it different from the previous three?
Guest: Well, it's different because the other movies were done in a documentary form and this one isn't. This is a narrative, and that's quite a bit different. The cast is obviously the same as the last four movies, but otherwise, that's the main difference.
Levy: It's pretty much the same, but it is a major difference, documentary versus narrative, in terms of just the pressure of making sure the story actually works. In that sense, a documentary is easier, because you have more choices to get from one funny moment to another. In a straight narrative pretty much the scenes have to play out.
CS: Does that format make a difference in how much improvisation you could do?
Guest: No, no. Other than the "Home for Purim" scenes, the movie within the movie, it's all improvised, but it's harder because a scene has to lead into another scene and you can't just put in an interview or cut to a photograph of a raccoon, which we should have done by the way, because that always works. And we don't have people leaking stuff about our leading man, because it's not that kind of movie. [This was in reference to a pre-interview conversation about "Casino Royale" incidentally.]
CS: When you're writing the scripts or plotting them out, do you always know which of the cast is going to play each character?
Guest: We do. We write specifically for this company of actors that is in these movies. Absolutely, it's important to do that.
CS: Do any of the actors in your ensemble come to you and say that they want to play certain characters ever?
Guest: No, we write them, so when we're writing the characters, we say, "We're writing Fred's part basically" and when we do the outline and hand that out, we say "Here's your part." It's not a lottery. It's ultimately my decision to say what happens here. As the two of us are constructing this story, we say it's not a free-for-all.
CS: What stops the two of you from always taking the best roles for yourselves?
Guest: Well, I think this one may have always started with Catherine, because we always knew she was going to be the central character. It started with that, and then we kind of fish around the office.
Levy: Well, there was a time where I actually thought when I might have gone into, really early on, the role Harry had as the other actor, but it just seemed...
Guest: But that was just for a couple days.
Levy: Oh, less than that! Maybe it was because it was Catherine and I had worked [together] in "A Mighty Wind," maybe it seemed like that pairing seemed natural, but this actor with the Shakespearean/soap opera background, with Harry and that golden voice, it's just a natural.
Guest: It's a luxury to write for people you know and who you can count on.
Levy: And it's fun actually thinking of the casting.
Guest: Yeah, because typically, in a conventional movie, someone will write a script and say, "Well, we're hoping to get Tom Hanks, we're hoping to get Julia Roberts" and then reality hits and people will say, "They're not available." And then it's Version #2, Version #6, which is every movie basically, 'cause there's this list of people and three stars, but in our movies, these are the people. This is the #1 choice.
CS: And you've never had problems with...
Guest: (sensing the question coming) Availability? Well, I've been lucky. The other good thing, or the reality at least, is that we shoot these movies in 25 days, which is a fraction of what a normal movie will cost, so typically, Eugene or any actor might work five days, maybe at the most 8 or 9 days. And no one gets paid. I'm not being facetious either. Everyone gets the same scale. So it at least makes me feel a little less guilty to say they're only working for ten days and getting nothing then saying, "Can you give me three months of your time for nothing?" Because then people will say "No, I couldn't." For instance, if Catherine had said on this film that she wasn't available, we wouldn't have done the film, then the film doesn't get made and you wait.
CS: Do you end up doing a lot of research for these movies, like with the dog shows in "Best in Show"?
Guest: The dog shows needed research because other than having a mutt myself and Gene has a mutt, we didn't know that world, but for the most part, I've been a musician so the last one I did wasn't really research, it was just doing that. This one, we live in this world, we know every day what that is, so the dog movie, we definitely needed to go to dog shows and learn about that.
CS: Was it easier or harder to satirize your own industry?
Guest: Well, I think it's easier because you live in it, you see it every day, we do interviews with people, we go through these things. To be honest, it's so toned down from what's happened in the world, so that if you showed what really happened, people would say, "That's impossible, that can't really have happened." I did a junket once where a woman showed up and she was wearing a dog suit. Now if you show that in a movie, you just think, "That's really stupid, it's not funny and it's stupid." But there I was just sitting and I had to talk to this person. And there you go, that's the other end of this spectrum.
CS: Could you have a movie on the topic of Hollywood and the awards season 10 or 20 years ago or is it a recent explosion of the culture?
Guest: Ten years ago probably, but I would say that this world has been around now for a good 20 years, because those ET shows, there are a lot of those shows, and everybody knows all about this stuff now.
CS: Did this hit too close to home considering there was some talk of an Oscar for your writing work on "A Might Wind"?
Levy: I don't know if it was talk of an Oscar. There was only one award, the New York Film Critics award, and then it was on a lot of Top 10 lists. I don't think it got as close as talk of an Oscar. I don't think it got that far. But there was a little buzz going on in its own way, more for my amusement than anyone else's. I got a taste of what that thing is like when people are mentioning things like "Have you seen your name in that thing?" And "If you take this, you can easily get [an award]" and you want to say, "Enough. Honestly, I think I've got a fix on it, and it's really not going farther than this," which is what I said at the New York Film Critics awards. Unlike some of you, I know this is it for me. But that wasn't the genesis of the idea, but at least we knew when we landed on what this thing was about, which is what happens when somebody mentions that to you and you can't shake it. I think we've all had that experience at some point in our careers of being up for, nominated, winning or not winning awards, and knowing what it's like when that just rings through your head, and thoughts of grandeur whiz by, fleetingly. It's that scene where Catherine is talking to herself in the car is really the nut of what this thing is about.
CS: Jane Lynch seemed to really jump into her role as an entertainment show host.
Guest: Well, that relationship is kind of interesting. Anyone working with Fred [Willard], has a task. Fred, it's hard to describe what that force is. Jane is one of the few people who can stand up to Fred Willard's world, which is another world from the one you and I know. She is incredibly smart and funny and can deal with that. I said to her that I really want him to be this abrasive guy and this buffoon obviously, but you really need to hold your own. If you ever see the movie again, there's this great moment where she comes out at this weird angle, and Fred is standing there and he looks at her and he does the same angle. It's just this little tiny moment, but he's always trying to outdo her.
CS: Gene, you do a lot of other movies, and then you return to these movies every three or four years. Is it disappointing when you put a lot of work into a movie like "The Man" and it fails to find an audience and how satisfying is it doing these when you probably can make more money doing another "American Pie"?
Levy: Those are the movies that enable me to do these movies. It's like Michael's line in the movie: "We make just enough writing to keep us in teaching." Fortunately, I do have those movies that pay the bills. And honestly, however they turn out, I don't thinkówell, there's one I didn't have a good time onóbut mostly, there's actually just a fun experience, which to me, is as important as anything else. Because you know what? You really only pass this way once...
Levy: And nothing is that important to me. The experience is as important as the final product, having a good time working, and I had a good time working on just about all the films I worked on. Those are fortunately films that pay.
Guest: Which was the one that was the least good time?
Levy: Well, I can't necessarily talk about that right now.
Guest: Oh, I see.
Levy: But these movies are so unique, because you don't experience this kind of work in this business, and most people don't ever experience this kind of work where you have so much creative flexibility and freedom. As a director and as writers, we don't have any interference from the studio, they don't dictate anything creatively on the movie. They certainly leave all decisions, final or otherwise, up to Chris, and that's unusual, because the studio does have final say on any movie. They can override the director in terms of wanting a scene in or wanting a scene out. It doesn't happen as long as the film stays on budget, and these are quite low budgets. The studio feels very safe in saying, "Okay, you can do what you want." And by the same token, the actors that are in these movies, they get to create their characters based on an outline that we provide for them on the character's backgrounds. I think the actor can actually take what we give them and if they have a better idea, we'll do that. Jennifer [Coolidge] had this accent in "A Mighty Wind"...
Guest: Well, she said to me before we shot, Jennifer Coolidge, who's also on another planet by the way (laughter)Ö it's a good planet, a fine planet, just other than earth. Just before we shot in that film, she said, "Which voice should I use? This one? Or this one?" And I said, "The first one" and she literally walked on and did that. And there's no rehearsal in these movies, so she just started talking. Only she could have done that in this bizarre voice she used.
Levy: So as actors, it's incredibly liberating to have this much freedom. Everybody cherishes working on these things every few years, because you'll never find anything like this ever in a working experience.
For Your Consideration opens in select cities on Friday, November 17.
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