Every now and then you are surprised by how deftly a film can balance between two different themes or elements. The fact that For A Good Time, Call… can be both sweet and raunchy at the same time is a testament to co-writers Lauren Anne Miller and Katie Anne Naylon along with feature debut director Jamie Travis.
But the film really succeeds by presenting two women in Lauren and Ari Graynor that, despite their bickering, you end up rooting on to become friends (that’s the sweet part). The raunchy part is filled in by the backdrop of them running a phone sex line out of their apartment in New York as Lauren breaks out of her shell. A few weeks ago I was able to sit down with Miller and Graynor to talk about finding that balance, the soundboard featured in the film, catching audiences off guard, a bejeweled dildo named Susan, and much more. Below you will find my full video interview and past that a transcription.
The Film Stage: Did you create the soundboard in the film? Who has it now?
Lauren Anne Miller: Who…
Ari Graynor: I thought you had it.
Miller: No, I don’t have it.
Graynor: Or Sue has it.
Miller: No, actually, no one has it. We lost it somewhere in the mix.
Miller: We tried to get it. But we have a new one.
Miller: But yea, that was one of those things that was in the script. Like, in the original. We put it in there and kind of forgot about it. You go to shoot it and someone hands you a little keyboard from 1983 and you record stuff. I don’t think it actually worked to record, if I remember, on set. But the stuff that…
Graynor: Yea, you did!
Graynor: You did record it.
Miller: And it played it back?
Graynor: Yea, and it played it back. We did go to the ADR booth… we’re making a digital version of that which will be on our website in a week or so. But we had to go to the studio… by the way, my mom was there that day and we had to record all those things for every key.
Miller: We had to record 40 different things so when you go online you can string together your own funny little sentence.
Graynor: But the most fun thing is that our two pink phones exist and Lauren has one and Katie has one.
Miller: Yea, we have the phones.
How did you come up with the character names? What’s that story?
Miller: We’re just really uncreative.
Graynor: Is there a story!? Well, my God, of course there is.
Miller: We just… I don’t know. It was one of those things. My husband, Seth Rogen, and his writing partner, Evan Goldberg, they wrote Superbad with their names. It was just literally, ‘Let’s do the same thing. It’ll be funny.’ I don’t think we really intended to keep it but because the character were based on ourselves. Katie and I met in college. We were a random roommate match and we are very different people just like the Katie and Lauren in the movie. I’m certainly more of the rule follower and Katie’s more of the rule breaker, if you will. And Katie ran a phone sex line out of college. Out of her dorm room. 1-800-FSU-TITS. So it was based on true events. I should say ‘Inspired by’. This is not a documentary of our story.
Graynor: It’s a biopic.
[Laughs] In the film you have green tea to help your throat. Did it ever get to that point on set?
Graynor: I think we were just tired. I think there were days where we were, as you do in independent film making, it’s quite a sprint. You shoot for 14-15 hours a day and we would be back on set 10 hours later. So we were tired, as one is when you shoot, but the phone sex… there’s not that much in it. It’s set in the world of phone sex. It exists. But it’s not like we were screaming on a daily basis. We had our moments.
What part of the process did you find the balance between sweet and raunchy? Was it in the script or was it found in the editing room?
Miller: Certainly a combo of the two, but that was the intention. To tell this sort of sweet friendship story but through something that could make these characters uncomfortable so that they could discover what they are really meant to be and to live up to their potential. I think you have to put your characters in hot water sometimes so, especially for Lauren’s character, to be tossed into this world. She’s having this really boring, normal sex. To be tossed into this world where she’s forced to be a little bit more outrageous is a really good test to put her through. And at the same time…
Graynor: For Katie to be able to hide behind the phone and to be able to present a certain kind of confidence. A certain kind of bravado. And really to have that be a total front for who she actually is, it’s kind of a genius setup. But when I first read the script the sweetness was just pouring out of it. And that’s what I thought made it so special.
Miller: Just comes so naturally… that sweetness.
Graynor: Friendly sweetness.
As we recently saw with Ruby Sparks, what do you think of this growing trend of women writing their own roles?
Miller: I think it’s great. I think making a movie as an actor; as a writer; as anything… is difficult. I think a lot of people have dreams and desires to do something and it’s about recognizing that maybe if someone else isn’t going to give you that opportunity, maybe you need to make it happen for yourself. And there’s a lot of amazingly talented people out there waiting for the chance to do something. We got tired of waiting. We just decided to make it happen for ourselves and I think it’s so awesome that so many people are doing that. It’s so inspiring.
What do you think of the press tours and Q&As?
Graynor: The Q&A, it’s always so exciting and nerve-wracking to hear what people thought. We only went to Sundance and we had an incredible, surprising response there.
Miller: It was amazing.
Graynor: It was unbelievable. I always joke that I have what I call ‘Birthday Party Syndrome.’ And I get it before every screening. And I was just talking about it with our premiere. I’m always afraid that no one will be there. No one will like it.
Graynor: When we sneak in at the end of the screenings and we hear laughter. Each time it’s happened in every city and we just look at each other, ‘Oh my God, it’s happening!’ It’s all of those things at once because this is our baby and of course we want people to love it. And we’ve been so lucky so far that the response, knock on wood, has been pretty wonderful.
This looks like a studio movie. It even starts like a studio film a bit with an easy going start. Do you think you’ll catch some audiences off guard?
Miller: Who knows. We were very lucky that we had an extraordinary director of photography and he was able to make our movie look so incredible in a short period of time. As far as our story goes that was just the natural way to start our story off. You have to show your characters living in a very real, normal way. And then the color starts coming in and you really start to get into your journey. I hope that people are excited that we made this movie really quickly and in a short period of time. But I hope that it can stand on its own in the world of comedy.
Graynor: And in terms of selling the movie by starting off sort of clean in the beginning and it gets crazier: the two realities of our movie is that there is phone sex and at the same time it’s very sweet and innocent in a lot of ways. Certainly that’s tricky to present both sides of that in trailers, TV spots, or interviews, but we’re doing our best to let people know about both sides so that no one finds themselves… pleasantly surprised at the movie but not surprised that both of those facets exist.
What were your favorite props?
Graynor: Earl. Kevin.
Miller: Earl and Kevin were…
Graynor: Earl and Kevin are two of our favorite dildos.
Miller: And the bejeweled dildo…
Graynor: What was her name? Susan? Sherry?
Miller: But I would say for me, that even moreso than the keyboard, was the thong banner that Ari’s hanging. That, literally, was one of those things we wrote and I truly forgot about it. I showed up on set that day and sure enough there was someone sewing underwear together. I literally wanted to be like, ‘I am so sorry about this crazy idea we had.’ And there they are. I’m so proud of that thong banner. I think that was the first thong banner ever.
Miller: It may be.
Miller: I don’t know.
For A Good Time, Call… is now in limited theaters.
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