Awards season is a brutal one in Hollywoodland. Plenty of worthy — but perhaps “smaller” — films get left behind as other, larger, starrier features push to the front to collect their accolades. But filmmaker and comedian Mike Birbiglia is hopeful that his latest film, “Don’t Think Twice,” doesn’t suffer the same kind of fate as other exciting offerings that never quite push past the gold-plated finish line.
“Don’t Think Twice” marks Birbiglia’s second directorial outing, following the also well-received “Sleepwalk With Me,” and has enjoyed a slow-burn theatrical release that kicked off quite auspiciously with a July limited release from The Film Arcade that saw it earn a very impressive $92,835 in its first weekend in just one theater. (All these many months later, it’s still playing in New York City and has made over $4.4 million at the box office.) The film has earned a slew of stellar reviews, many of them focused on Birbiglia’s snappy direction and the performances of his impressive comedic cast (from Gillian Jacobs to Keegan-Michael Key to Birbiglia himself).
In short, it’s a very good movie, but also the kind that might be forgotten during awards season. Birbiglia’s plan to combat that? A grassroots reach-out to film critics.
Earlier this week, Birbiglia and his team sent around a very charming and heartfelt For Your Consideration note to various film critics — plus links to watch the film and read the screenplay — that shows just how dedicated he is to getting his film in front of the right eyeballs. Oh, and it’s funny. Of course.
Check out Birbiglia’s full letter below:
Dear Film Critic,
I’m Mike Birbiglia.
This year I wrote, directed and acted in a film called “Don’t Think Twice.” Thanks for the nice reviews. (NOT YOU, WASHINGTON POST!)
For a small movie like ours, reviews really do matter and are a big part of what got our little labor of love out to a whole bunch of people. So thanks.
I travelled to 30 cities with this film and the most common question asked was “is it improvised or written” and my answer is, “It’s surprisingly written for a film about improv,” which is to say, I wrote 12 or 13 drafts of the screenplay over the course of two years and held readings of it in my living room in Brooklyn, where I would invite actors and improvisors and writers and directors to give feedback and I would always serve pizza, which was the hook of the whole thing. I would always tell the participants that the script might be bad, but the pizza would be phenomenal.
“Don’t Think Twice” has been a massive labor of love. It’s a film that could not have existed the way that it did within the studio system of Hollywood. The same way films like “Once” and “The Trip” and “Tangerine” were outliers from the system. Casting alone in the studio system would have had our realistic improv group include The Rock, Katy Perry, and a wisecracking CGI animal that’s huge in China. The film also had a very unique development process, a very unique approach to shooting and editing. The goal was to make a film people would watch years from now, not just this year and next. I would always tell the actors on set that what we wanted was people in France in 10 years from now to watch the movie in subtitles and say to each other, “Let’s go see The Commune perform in New York City.” To trick the audience into believing that these people existed and that this world exists. So it’s an unusual film in the sense that the direction isn’t flashy, the writing isn’t flashy and the acting isn’t flashy. CAN YOU SMELL OSCAR?!
Joking aside, those are the types of films I love. Effortless acting, directing, and writing. Something that feels more like life than a movie. And I’m really proud that we were able to make a film that is extremely carefully planned, but feels like it is just sort of happening. We hope you feel the same way. We hope you’ll consider the film for these categories.
Thanks again – I hope that with your help and the support of the audiences that I’ll be able to make another film soon. I’m already in the outline stage of my next film. I hope to see you out there next time.
“Don’t Think Twice” hits home video on December 6.