Like many young Canadians, my first experience of Ryan Gosling (apart from him occasionally
living in my hometown) was not on the Mickey Mouse club but rather an embarrassing teen drama that seemed to only play late at night when anyone who knew better should be in bed. It was called Breaker High and for some reason it was about a high school that just happened to be on a cruise ship. Because that happens! The ship would dock at all kinds of amazing, exotic locations (okay, technically they were all shot in British Columbia) and the kids would get into inoffensive hijinks, like Saved By The Bell, only milder, if you can possibly imagine that (this was, after all, a polite Canadian production). It starred Ryan Gosling as a nerdy wannabe ladies’ man – not the heart-throb by any means. And it also starred Rachel Wilson, an actress born right here in Ottawa (not to further the stereotype of all Canadians knowing each other – I’ve really never met her), who I was delighted to rediscover in a movie I just watched called Let’s Rap.
It took me a moment to place her, and I’m sure you know that feeling of…what’s she from? I recently had that very same feeling watching Jewel Staite in How To Plan an Orgy in a Small Town, which makes me think this may be a particularly Canadian experience, kind of like watching Lost for the first time and realizing Evangeline Lilly finally made it big after a series of embarrassing dial-a-girlfriend commercials.
Anyway, it was nice to see Rachel Wilson all grown up and not playing the “quirky misfit” anymore.
Well, okay, she may still be playing a bit of a quirky misfit, but in 2016, that’s a title we’re owning and embracing. If skinny Ryan Gosling can grow up to give Brad Pitt a run for his money, then Rachel Wilson will have an easier time of it, having been cute all along.
And in this movie, she proves she’s more than capable of keeping up with a fast-talking script that would wind Aaron Sorkin. Wilson plays opposite Brendan Gall as Melanie and Bo Schnurr, a brother and sister team who dream of taking their witticisms straight to the big time, carpeting their way to stardom with pop-culture landmines exploding left and right, making puddles out of their Beau’s beer (shout out to Vankleek Hill, hometown of Beau’s beer and my mother’s husband). I’m wary of any movie that credits itself with pop-culture banter, and yet this one won me over quickly. Wilson is too warm and the Schnurr charm proved irresistible – plus, hello, a well-timed Jason Priestly cameo (okay, fine, I admit it: Canada is its own small world).
One of the hands-down best things about this movie is the strong material it’s working with, and that’s a credit to the real-life brother-sister team who wrote it, Jesse and Samantha Herman, who were born and raised in the very city where this film was shot – Toronto.
I asked Samantha a few questions about what it was like to work on this film, and to collaborate with her brother, and she was kind enough to respond.
Jay: Do you think indie screenwriters have to effectively function as a producer in order to get their movie made?
Samantha: Yes, especially for first-time writers. There are so many scripts out there looking for a home and without a proven track record it’s difficult to get other producers’ attention. As your own producer, you also have more opportunity to preserve your material and be involved in the entire production, which is fantastic.
Jay: What would we be surprised to learn is part of your role as producer?
Samantha: I don’t know if you’d be surprised, but since I don’t cook in my real life, I was always shocked by the amount of decision-making, planning and time management pertaining to meals and snacktime. Basically, I learned I should never host a dinner party.
Jay: How did you manage to write this with your brother? Were you in the same room, or were you emailing back and forth from different cities?
Samantha: We started with ideas, jokes and concepts that we could share in person or over email. But when it came time to actually structure the script and write dialogue we always did that in person. The style of our banter, which can be pretty fast-paced, is simply not conducive to an email exchange. We had to capture the flow together. Plus it’s just more fun that way.
Jay: What’s it like to give up control of your baby to a director?
Samantha: There was a bit of anxiety going into it because the director takes over the driver’s seat with the project. But, we had extremely positive conversations with our director, Neil Huber, during pre-production so that alleviated all the concern. Knowing his sensibility for our style and hearing his great ideas, I knew he would capture the comedy we wanted to achieve. Since I have no aspiration to be a director myself, I was happy to entrust the job to Neil.
If you’re interested in checking this movie out, and you should be, the good news is: it’s available everywhere! It’s now online on iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play, Vimeo & Xbox; here are a couple of the links-
And because Samantha is a particular brand of sweetheart, she included a link to check out a delightful short film produced by the same team called Street Meet – for free: https://vimeo.com/105094852