The screenplay, Connolly's first to make it to the screen, centers on three employees (Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson and Karan Soni) at a Seattle magazine who set out to profile the man behind a bizarre and hilarious classified ad that reads: "WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You'lll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED."
Indiewire caught up with the busy Los Angeles-based NYU grad (he finished school in 1998) to discuss his breakthrough year and the story behind the project.
How did you come up with the premise for "Safety Not Guaranteed"?
I saw that ad online at some point in 2007 or so and immediately wondered if this was real because everyone was making gags and putting up parody videos. I thought it was funny, but there was something sad and regretful about it. I did wonder what that guy would be like, and thought I maybe knew people like him.
Then I saw Aubrey Plaza in "Funny People" in 2009 and the plot of the story came together. I started writing a week after that and gave it to Colin, the guy who ended up directing it and a long-time friend.
Did you actually go and seek this guy out or write this all based on your reaction to the advertisement?
I just wrote the script. The guy was a mystery. He hadn't outed himself at that point yet. Coincidentally, the script was done and being sent out, and we were looking for financing. The original writer of the ad wrote an article in Backwoods Home Magazine explaining that he was the guy who wrote it and wanted to come out and reveal himself. Colin actually got in touch with the magazine and got the guy, John Silveira's, number and spoke with him. They ended up meeting on the East Coast and they developed this relationship. It took them a while to get him to find an option... we weren't sure of the reality of the whole thing but we wanted to be sure to cover all our bases and acknowledge him and give him what we thought was proper due credit. He actually did a little cameo in the movie. He came out to Seattle while we were shooting and he plays one of the people going to the post office that's a false alarm that they think might be Kenneth.
Then he came out to Sundance. We called him out and he stood up and got a big round of applause. It was really neat, seeing him enjoy the whole process.