In “Slow Learners,” the new film from real-life couple Don Argott and Sheena Joyce, high school teachers Jeff and Anne (Adam Pally and Sarah Burns) are best friends who have been burned by love one too many times. Eager to make a change, they decide to take on new personas and set out to have an uncharacteristically adventure-filled summer. “Slow Learners” is a sweet comedy about finding out who you are and stumbling through all of life’s ups and downs in the process.
What’s your film about in 140 characters or less?
Two close friends who are shockingly unlucky at love hatch a plan to transform themselves over the course of a sex and alcohol-fueled summer.
Now what’s it REALLY about?
It’s really about the embarrassing lows and spectacular highs we all go through, as we stumble through life, looking for happiness.
Tell us briefly about yourself.
We have been a couple for 13 years, and over the course of those years, have started a company, made six documentaries, one romantic comedy, and one baby. We live in Philadelphia with our daughter, Maeve, and our five cats.
Biggest challenge in completing this film?
Well, there are professional challenges, and there are personal challenges.
Professionally, we knew our biggest challenge was to make it funny. There’s really nothing worse than comedy that falls flat (we know there are a lot of things that are worse than that), and we wanted to make sure we had amazing improvisational actors in our cast. With the help of the great casting director, Allison Jones, our cast was an embarrassment of riches. We took advantage of their incredible talent, and did our best to use our documentary skills to ground the film in reality—no matter how insane the situation.
Personally, our biggest challenge was figuring out how to co-direct our first narrative and not murder each other, all while juggling the care of our new baby, while I was still breast feeding.
What do you want the Tribeca audience to take away from your film?
We hope that Tribeca audiences think of our film like comfort food- something that makes them feel good, that they want to revisit over and over. We want people to fall in love with our characters like we did, and go home quoting lines from the movie to make each other laugh.
Any films inspire you?
We’re huge fans of Judd Apatow and Adam McKay films. I think we quote Step Brothers and This is 40 on a weekly basis. We also both grew up on a steady diet of John Hughes, and Don can recite The Breakfast Club line for line. Sheena gets a far away look on her face whenever Jake Ryan is on screen in Sixteen Candles.
We’re now making a documentary with Emmy-winning filmmaker Robert Weide, about his 25-year plus friendship with Kurt Vonnegut while creating the author’s definitive film biography. It’s called Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time.
What cameras did you shoot on?
We used the Arri Alexa.
Did you crowdfund?
If so, via what platform. If not, why?
Did you go to film school? If so, which one?
Don went to The Art Institute of Philadelphia.
Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2015 festival. For profiles go HERE.