Starting writing They Came Together with Michael Showalter, where did you guys begin within the realm of parodying a genre like romantic comedies?
Michael and I just love that genre, we grew up watching so many of those movies and loving them, and also we always had an interest in what that formula was, what the tropes were, without even an eye towards making fun of it, just talking about them. As we got more into making movies and doing comedy we thought it’d be a great chance to work within the genre that we liked so much and give it our absurdist twist.
When it came to putting together the cast, did you have Paul and Amy in mind, having worked with them before, because you could also play with some of what they are known for?
We had been working on this project for a long time in different variations and it had gone away and come back, so we hadn’t specifically thought about Amy and Paul, even though they are two of our favourite people until more recently when we tried to take the movie, a couple of years ago when we started this project. We did a reading of the screenplay at a comedy festival in California, Paul and Amy were both part of that reading and afterwards they came up to us and said ‘hey let’s make this into a real movie’.
You were shooting New York, you say it’s a character in the film, how was it doing that? Did you get a Woody Allen vibe when shooting some scenes?
The truth is, unlike the movies we were spoofing this film was low budget. We shot it mostly in Brooklyn, not the iconic Manhattan location where it takes place, but it was really fun and there’s so much production value to get out of just shooting anywhere in New York. The architecture and the light, it’s irreplaceable. It was a true pleasure, so much fun. I rode my bike across the bridge every day to go shoot, and I did grow up idolising Woody Allen and wanting to make those kinds of movies and it did feel like we were doing that, walking down the street, talking, all that milieu.
I want to get very specific on one great scene, where Paul Rudd repeats the lines “Tell Me About It” and “You Can Say That Again” for a long time, it’s a perfect edit where the joke is funny, then drags out, then becomes hysterical because of the repetition of it. How many passes of the scene did you make and how many times would you get audiences involved in reacting to that part in particular?
Once we hit on the idea that we should play the same footage over and over we had a lot of test screenings, mostly unscientific, but I think it didn’t take too many until we hit on the right number of tries, where it got a bit of a laugh, then became unfunny and then funny again.
This came out in the US as a VoD release along with theatrical release, and it’s doing much the same in the UK. Did this type of release help the film expand on its audience, from your perspective?
I really don’t know, I have to be honest. As a filmmaker you always want more people to see it in the theatre, especially a comedy where you’re laughing together, that’s my first choice to see it. That said, the day-and-date VoD release in the US, I certainly think, more people I know saw the movie than would have if it were only theatrical because you’ll hear about it, read reviews, then you have your choice of how to view it. I think that’s the way the world’s going. There certainly are positives to it, and so it’s interesting. As far as the actual numbers, if it does better on VoD, I have no idea, that’s not my area of expertise.
When the posters came up online, with the quotes from Deadline about announcing the film rather than actual quotes about the finished film, was that your decision or was that the studio?
That whole thing, there wasn’t any real marketing budget, I actually made that poster. I did a lot of it myself, that was me trying to figure out ways to get the word out, and for me it was important to figure out a way, in the poster, to get a sense of what the movie is, comedic sensibility-wise, before you go in. That’s an important element of the film, if you get what we’re trying to do. We went through a lot during the editorial process to make sure the audience didn’t think it was a real romantic comedy.
They Came Together is in cinemas and VoD services from September 5th, you can read our review here.