Trouble Dolls marks Jennifer Prediger and Jess Weixler’s writing and directing debuts. Prediger has starred in Joe Swanberg’s Uncle Kent, Madeleine Olnek’s Foxy Merkins, and Hanna Fidell’s A Teacher. Weixler’s acting credits include CBS’s The Good Wife, Teeth, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby – Her, Them, Face of Love, and Somebody Up There Likes Me.
Trouble Dolls made its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival on June 15.
W&H: Please give us your description of the film playing.
JP & JW: Trouble Dolls is a madcap buddy movie about two co-dependent roommates living in the East Village who flee to LA to escape their financial and existential woes. Their friendship is tested by a cat, a wealthy aunt (Megan Mullally), a landlord (Jeffrey Tambor), a stranger (Will Forte), and an audition on a national talent reality show.
W&H: What drew you to this story?
JP & JW: We were inspired by the bizarre living spaces that exist in NYC. The city is pretty crammed with people, and for many, leading a relaxed, spacious, “normal” life is too expensive. Jennifer was living in an illegal sublet in the East Village. When she left town to to work on a movie, she double-illegally subletted to Jess, who had moved to New York from Los Angeles to work on The Good Wife. Upon Jennifer’s return, the two lived together in this charming, dilapidated space and within a week decided to make something together.
We were also inspired by codependent dynamic duos in classic buddy movies like The Odd Couple, Withnail and I, Laverne and Shirley, I Heart Huckabees, Dumb and Dumber. They play on the idea of co-dependent friendship.
W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?
JP & JW: The biggest challenge in making the film was the number of days we had to shoot it in. We had to get the whole thing in the can in 14 days. It was a breakneck pace in the middle of a hot summer.
W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?
JP & JW: Well, first of all, keep making movies! Then, when you’re shooting, stay open to surprises. If you show up and something better than what you planned is happening, you should go with it. Stay flexible. Also, “shoot series” was a helpful bit of advice.
Be happy with your script when you go into pre-production. Get a lot of feedback on it. Then always stay connected to the heart of your characters and what they desire in their journey. It’s good to get to know them really well before you shoot and then discover more and more of who they are every day. Rehearse if you can. If you can’t, give yourself time to shoot more takes.
W&H: What’s the biggest misconception about you and your work?
JP & JW: People often ask us if we’re still friends after co-directing. They assume the process may have been too grueling. Making a film does have its tense moments. Luckily, we were able to move past those moments and become even deeper friends for having gone through the process of supporting each other’s creative vision. It helps that we always know how to make each other laugh.
W&H: Name your favorite woman directed film and why.
JP & JW: It’s hard for either of us to pick a favorite. Jess loves Fish Tank by Andrea Arnold for its raw poetry filled with incredible character dynamics. Jennifer is fond of Penny Marshall’s Big and Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know because of their odd humor and truthfulness. We both love movies by Lisa Cholodenko and Nicole Holofcener because their work is honest, funny, sad, and human.