For a Good Time, Call…
The buzz about Jamie Travis’s feature debut, For a Good Time, Call…, is that it’s a comedy starring raunchy women. That’s technically true: The movie is about two women who have good reason to strongly dislike one another a full 10 years after they first met, and who end up living together and starting a phone sex business—but to pass the film off as some imitative descendant of Bridesmaids would sell it short. For a Good Time, Call… is really about genuine friendship between women; how fragile it can be and how hard it is to attain.
Focus Features snatched up the film shortly after its premiere on Sunday night, and it’s no mystery why they thought audiences would respond to the film. For a Good Time, Call… is fresh and hilarious, and its insights about friendship feel honest, never sentimental or maudlin. That it is also a comedy about women who aren’t dying to get married or desperate to find the right man will come as something of a relief to women longing to see the female experience more authentically reflected on screen.
After the premiere at Eccles, Travis joined Lauren Anne Miller, the film’s co-writer and co-star, with her co-writer and co-producer Katie Anne Naylon and actors Ari Graynor and Justin Long, to answer the audience’s questions.
The casting was so spot-on and I can’t picture anyone else in those roles. Did you all have these actors in mind to play these parts?
Lauren Anne Miller: Well, we wrote it for Ari, because after seeing her incredible work, we thought of no one else to play this part and then honestly, we just got so incredibly lucky to have everyone else come on board. It became a life of its own. And then around a year ago, I sort of thought, one day, we have this script and the character’s name is Lauren and I’m Lauren and we should just make this on our own and it’ll play Sundance next year! And here we are.
I was just wondering how long you two girls spent together before you got on set and did all that. How did that chemistry work?
Ari Graynor: They sent me the script almost exactly a year ago and I fell in love with it. They wrote me an incredibly beautiful letter, I wrote them back and we were all crying and we were all in love and then we started spending some time together, but it was really when we got Jamie on board that the four of us … spent a lot of time working on the script. But it was really once we started working it all out and getting it as tight as possible that we all fell in love. Sometimes you just meet people and you’re kindred spirits. The first thing that we shot was the phone sex call with Kevin Smith, the back it up on all fours, which is quite a way to start work when it’s a really quiet bedroom.
How much freedom did Jamie give you all to go off-script and if you did, can you relate some story about what you contributed to the film?
Justin Long: He gave us a lot of freedom. We would do usually one take as close to script as we could. It depended on the scene, but some of it was right for expanding on. When you get some freedom, it’s nice.
Jamie Travis: I can tell you that Justin Long rarely stayed on-script. I had no idea he was a master improviser. This was shot very quick and dirty. We shot it in 15 days (gasp from the crowd). Okay, the total was 17. I will say that when I went into this movie, the script was in such a great place, and so funny, we were shooting it in 15, 16 days, I didn’t think we’d have as much time to improvise as we did. The actors really brought the characters to life with words that were not on the page.
The writing was pretty raunchy and I was just wondering where you got all the vocabulary words.
Graynor: “Vagina” is a pretty standard word.
Katie Anne Naylon: We used a lot of Urban Dictionary. I had some phone sex in my checkered past and I just dredged that up with hypnotherapy. And Ari did a lot of improv. It was a little dirty.
Could you talk about how the script was written?
Lauren Anne Miller: Katie and I sat down to write the script together, and we wanted to tell a story about female friendship, because that’s what we know about each other. However, Katie ran a phone sex line out of her college dorm freshman year and that was also a story we wanted to tell, so we decided to tell the story of female friendship based on Katie’s phone sex experience.
Naylon: Thank you. We wanted to explore how girls are different and judge each other – you know we do – and a lot of girls [like the two main characters] aren’t friends, and in this world, they are and we wanted people to take a beat and get to know each other. Opposites attract, just like Paula Abdul says.
Jamie, your short films are impeccably art-directed and so is this one. Please talk about your art direction.
Travis: [Introduces production designer Sue Tebbutt]. This was my first feature film, and my short films tend to be very formal, very self-conscious and very art-direction driven, so this was a real shift for me. I wanted to maintain—and I think this was part of the reason I was hired to direct the film—that style, but I knew I really had to come down to reality, because my short films take place in a very alternate reality. I knew I wanted distinct color schemes in each room, which is something I tend to do, and Sue just really got it and had a great team. I needed someone who had very good instincts, and that was Sue.
I was wondering as you were making this film whether you all were thinking about the dearth of female-driven comedies on the market in the past few years that aren’t about marriage.
Naylon: We just wanted to make a funny movie about girls that’s a good time, that you want to watch again and again. There’s so many bromances out now, and we thought we could do that for girls, because we hadn’t seen that in a while.
Graynor: Katie likes to call it a momance, and I told her she couldn’t say that all over Sundance, because it’s annoying. A lot of the movies that I grew up watching in the 80’s and 90’s like Big Business and Baby Boom and Hello Again—all these great movies with women—weren’t necessarily about a romantic relationship. Somehow that’s gotten lost a little bit. Whenever you see a movie now that’s focused on a female character, it’s often about their romance and that was the most exciting thing when I first read the script – it was not just about a girl looking for a guy.