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Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones on Moving From Microbudgets to 'Lola Versus'

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire June 11, 2012 at 12:47PM

The last time Indiewire caught up with Daryl Wein, he was about to unspool a very tumultuous period in his relationship with actress Zoe Lister-Jones via his mico-budget romantic dramedy "Breaking Upwards," which they both wrote. Unlike the couple in "Breaking Upwards," Wein and Lister-Jones are still very much an item (they just bought an apartment together in Brooklyn) and have continued to collaborate together, leading to their second film together, the romantic comedy "Lola Versus" starring Greta Gerwig.
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You two have been working toward this, but, when you got the call from Fox Searchlight, did you have to pinch yourself?

Wein: It was definitely an out-of-body experience because Fox Searchlight has such an amazing pedigree and has distributed so many great films. And I think it’s, as an independent filmmaker, a dream come true to have a big support system and major player behind you. Not only supporting your vision but working so hard and with so many people to bring it to life and then to distribute it. So it was amazing to have this team behind us. And it was so surreal to go from micro-budget, you know, like carrying our crap equipment down the street with two crew members to giant trucks and trailers. And we shot on film, which was really exciting.

Lister-Jones: I was going to say though, and we haven’t talked about this, but I was just remembering -- we were at Sundance a few years ago and we went to see "Cyrus," the premiere. And the Duplass brothers got up on stage and introduced it and they were like: “We made this movie with Fox Searchlight and we’re so excited and now have a three-picture deal with them…” and they were like “and we bought a house." I remember Daryl and I sitting there and being like, "What the fuck, how do we get that?” That was like the Holy Grail. And I remember sitting there and just being so envious of their position.

Have you two since bought a house?

Lister-Jones: We bought an apartment

Wein: In Brooklyn. Which is cool.

Not many folks in their twenties can say that. Good on that. In your two features and you both have navigated the pitfalls of a doomed partnership. Why do you two go down that route when you two are obviously a happy couple and have been for one for eight years?

"Lola Versus."
Fox Searchlight "Lola Versus."
Lister-Jones: Probably this has to do with us being in a relationship as a writing team; I think they are endlessly interesting and constantly forcing you to ask pretty difficult questions about yourself and about each other. And, I think, most movies are about the complexity of humanity. And so, for us it just takes the shape of a relationship. And I think when relationships are struggling, that’s when a lot of those interesting questions arise. So I guess that’s why we focus on that moment more than others. I don’t know though, when we wrote "Lola" I don’t think we thought that we were... I don’t think it was a conscious decision to write about a somewhat similar subject matter. It just felt like the story we wanted to tell. And I think now, in retrospect, people are like “Why are you always writing about break-ups?” and we were like “Oh shit, I guess we did.”

Wein: But I don't feel tortured by it though. "Breaking Upwards" is probably theraputic. It was loosely based on our open relationship. It was interesting to explore those themes and issues and boundaries, because we were processing them ourselves in our own relationship. We personally connected to it so much.

Also, we felt like there was this need to portray relationships in an authentic way that we weren't seeing. Same with "Lola." We've drawn from personal experiences even though it's fictionalized. With "Lola," we were seeing this trend among women, happening with Zoe when she was single, and Zoe's friends. So we related it to it on a personal level because of our proximity to those stories.

"Daryl has a pretty strong inner female." -- Zoe Lister-Jones
This film has a lead female protagonist. The last film had a male and female heading the tale. Daryl, did you find yourself struggling to delve into Lola's mind?

Lister-Jones: Daryl has a pretty strong inner female [laughs].

Wein: I access my inner female a lot. I have been dating Zoe for eight years, so I'm definitely tapped in to the female experience. Whereas if I was a single man, I would not have as well versed knowledge about the intracies of what it's like to be a woman. But yeah, obviously everyone's been single so I can relate to what it's like to be out there.

Lister-Jones: It was cool because I think I as a woman could bring up certain things that felt very specific to me and to the women I knew -- this theme of noise in a woman's head, and that it's neverending. Constant self questioning and self loathing. In those discussions we could both come up with ways that could manifest itself into the story. I think even though Daryl might not have first hand female experience, I could bring something to the table and we could both riff on it.

This article is related to: Interviews, Lola Versus, Daryl Wein, Zoe Lister Jones