"Somebody Up There Likes Me," which recently took home the Special Jury Prize at Locarno, is a sometimes-bitter comedy that follows the vicissitudes of love and friendship over the course of several decades of its protagonists' lives. Having charmed audiences and critics alike, director Bob Byington says that if you don't like the film, probably "it speaks more to your situation than anything in the movie." More encouragingly, he assures us, "if you like Nick Offerman's character Ron Swanson on 'Parks and Rec,' you're likely to enjoy our film."
On difficulties both creative and technical: "Developing: People would read the script and think it was a Lifetime TV Movie. Executing: Sometimes the DP wouldn't turn the camera on when I asked him to."
What he hopes audiences WON'T do during his film: "My favorite films I tend to not even notice I had to go to the bathroom till it's over, then I notice. I would like people who have to go to the bathroom during our film to wait and stay through the entire film, putting themselves and those around them in peril."
Covert Inspirations: "There are films that inspired me, but I won't mention them because it will make it easier to find the things I've stolen from them."
Any hints about what's coming next? "I'd like to work with Alex Ross Perry, but cannot get him to answer his phone. Also Natalie Portman is apparently a fan of Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), so I'd like to take a picture with her at a party, if possible."
Indiewire invited AFI FEST competition 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 2012 festival. Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch for the latest profiles.