When I started ScriptFaze four years ago, I didn’t predict how much directing I’d be doing in the years to follow... Screenwriting is fun--but 18-hour days on 106-degree sets? Now THAT’S a party.
Last month, I had the opportunity of directing my first feature film, Coffee, Kill Boss. We had a fantastic cast, and at least once every couple of hours someone would be sure to proclaim, “wow--what a great script...” And it was! One of the coolest parts of directing is getting to make projects written by your talented writer friends--and that’s exactly what happened with Coffee. Sig Ueland and I went to UCLA together a few years back, met in a screenwriting class and planned to one day make this film. We finally did it, you can read all about it at www.facebook.com/coffeekillboss or hashtag #CKB on Twitter.
When the production-dust settled, I got around to another fun task--interviewing Sig for Scriptfaze.com! I’ve posted the exchange below, and encourage readers to add comments and discover Sig’s webseries “Space Hospital” on YouTube.
Coffee, Kill Boss will premiere at film festivals in late 2013/early 2014, and be available to the public soon after. As always--thanks so much for reading and for making this blog a bigger deal than I ever planned.
NM: So Sig, what attracted you to screenwriting when you were starting out? What was the first script you wrote?
SU: Before screenwriting, I was performing improv in Chicago. (All writers should spend some time on the stage improvising. It's the best way to learn how to move a scene.) Eventually, I started writing sketches for a group. And then came plays and screenplays, which are essentially really-really long sketches.
My first screenplay was the same as everybody's -- it's about me and my friends! Mine was set in Chicago, which only carries the story so far.
NM: Where did the idea for "Coffee, Kill Boss" come from?
SU: I loved Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians," as well as the movie "Murder By Death." Getting people together for a murder seemed like a great idea to a bedwetter growing up in Minnesota.
Cut to the collapse of Lehman Brothers! I was a huge fan of the weekends Treasury Secretary Paulson and the banking chiefs went into a room to stabilize the banking system. These are the same guys that leveraged up their banks at minimum thirty times market cap, right? So the idea of murdering capitalists wasn't a huge leap.
I do love capitalists as heroes. They look good in suits, and they like to keep busy.
NM: Is there a writer or movie that inspires you above others?
SU: I'm still a big Mike Nichols and Elaine May fan. I love everything they did together and most of what they've done apart. "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?" (one of my favorite movies and plays), "Heartbreak Kid," "The Graduate," "Mikey and Nicky," "Heaven Can Wait"...and, yes, "Ishtar." Most of all, I like the album sketch stuff they did together.
I'm also a big fan of the actors who came out of improv in the 60s, including early Second City performers like Alan Alda and Ed Asner. And I'm also liking the current improv champs, the Duplass brothers.
Other than that, I mainly root for Minnesotans, the Coen brothers, Terry Gilliam, Loni Anderson.
NM: What was your favorite moment on set during production of "Coffee"?
SU: I like it when they all run around together. I think it's the funny flipside of the unruly mob behavior our forefathers were so worried about.
NM: What are you working on now? What's next in your career?
SU: Right now, I'm working on a love story about unemployment. If you want to get me on a weekly basis, I write and co-produced an animated webseries called Space Hospital. (http://www.youtube.com/spacehospital) Episodes are under two minutes, so it's great to watch while you're relieving yourself.
Hopefully, the next step in my career is somebody gives me a job! Writing, or if they need their driveway shoveled.
NM: What's the one thing you hope audiences take away from "Coffee" when it's released?
SU: Killing your co-workers never ends well.