With the dark comedy "Teddy Bears," first-time feature filmmaking duo (and spouses!) Thomas Beatty and Rebecca Fishman revisit the tough year leading up to their marriage for all the world to see. Talk about creative marriage counselling.
"We were both ready for it to be very difficult," Beatty told Indiewire over the phone from Joshua Tree National Park, where the production is currently on its 10th day of a 17-day shoot. "Rebecca's dad has a funny expression, I guess it's a golf expression called 'ham and egging it' — where when you're playing with a partner and one person is having a really great day and the other person isn't, you just learn to tap it out. That's been the case with us."
The script, written by Beatty, loosely uses their premarital stress as the basis for a story centering on Andrew, a guy who after losing his mother, invites his girlfiend and two other couples to the desert for a week or rejuvenation. Problems arise when Andrew explains to the group exactly how this 'rejuvenation' works. (Hint: It's a tad kinky.)
"We had a tough year leading up to when we got engaged," Beatty said. "I think a lot of people experience a make-or-break year. I was having a tough time and therefore we were having a tough time. We did get through it, and the script speaks to it. The specific set-up of the script is a vehicle through which to talk about feelings that come out of that kind of moment in a relationship, even within a group of friends."
Said Fishman, "I think the cast was attracted to the authenticity of the script; it resonated with a lot of them on a personal level. It's just been really amazing to be really honest with each other and share our experiences together."
For their directorial debut, the two have assembled an impressive cast, especially given the microbudget nature of the project. The ensemble includes David Krumholtz (TV's "Numbers"), Melanie Lynskey ("Up in the Air"), Gillian Jacobs (TV's "Community"), Jason Ritter (TV's "Parenthood"), Zachary Knighton ("Happy Endings") and Ahna O'Reilly ("The Help"), and, of course, Beatty's famous father, actor Ned Beatty.
"There was no part for my dad in the script when we originally wrote it," Beatty said. "But I was like, what am I doing, I can't write a movie and not have my dad in it! Everything I know about making movies, I learned from him, and from being around him on set.
"He could not have been sweeter, kinder and more supportive about the project. That said, his first day was definitely the most nervous morning I've had on set."
Right now, the two said they're focusing on making it the best film it can be. After that, they hope to take it on the festival circuit to share their tale with audiences.
Writer: Thomas Beatty
Directors: Thomas Beatty & Rebecca Fishman
Producer: Jennifer Westin
Executive Producer: Karina Miller
Casting Directors: Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee, Rich Delia
Cinematographer: Aaron Kovalchik
Editor: Eric Potter