"The Director Knows Nothing" -- Brian Sloan on "I Think I
by Aaron Krach
Writer/Director Brian Sloan is one of those rare individuals to have
actually made some money from a short film. "Pool Days" was combined
with two other short films and distributed by Strand Releasing as "Boys
Shorts" in 1994 The films tapped into an eager gay market, playing well
across the country and on video. Four years later, Brian Sloan has
finished his first feature, "I Think I Do." The ensemble comedy is one
part 40's screwball, one part 70's sitcom and a third part 90's sex
farce. "I Think I Do" introduces a group of college students and then
reunites them 5 years later for a wedding. The film places Sloan firmly
on the light-hearted, human side of independent film.
indieWIRE sat down with Brian Sloan to talk about the movie, but instead
learned the secret of craft services and how to not get arrested on the
set. Strand Releasing will open "I Think I Do," Friday, April 10. For
more info on the film, their website is WWW.ITHINKIDO.COM.
indieWIRE: I just saw the poster wheat-pasted to a wall in Soho. How
involved were you in the marketing plans?
Brian Sloan: We talked a lot about the poster design. But we ended with
what we started with, which was both couples; the wedding couple and the
Bob and Brendan couple. The art director decided to put them on top of
the cake, to emphasize the wedding aspect.
iW: And the promo line?
Sloan: "Two couples, one wedding, no funerals." I made that up. It's
stealing a line from "Four Weddings" but I think it's a nice
representation of the film. "Four Weddings" without any serious death
and the gay couple lives happily ever after. The main thing was to
market it as a wedding comedy, without pretending it's something that it
isn't. I wanted the guys to be featured as prominently as the wedding
couple. Not really gay vs. straight, but about people falling in love.
iW: The marriage is an interracial one. No one talks about it, or even
jokes about it. It's a complete non-issue.
Sloan: In the script, it wasn't interracial. That was discovered through
the casting. Lane, the producer, had worked with Lauren Velez on "I like
it Like That," and recommended her. I had seen her in that and on New
York Undercover, where she plays a fierce policewoman, where she shoots
people all the time. So we met for coffee and she started giving me
partridge family trivia. She started talking about seventies TV shows
and the Brady Bunch. She was hysterically funny and I was really
pleasantly surprised. And so once we cast her, it changed everything. It
really worked with the film, which is about that it doesn't matter if
it's a man or a woman, black or white.
iW: What was your development process for "I Think I Do."
Sloan: I wrote a ten page treatment first and from there I started
writing the script. It took me about three weeks to get the first draft.
I get very nervous sitting at the computer and not doing anything, so I
work very fast when I actually sit down to work. Then in the course of
three years, I went through ten drafts. The hardest thing about going
through ten drafts during that time was to get all the characters to
connect. To find a balance between all the couples and to make the
different story lines work together.
iW: You have made several shorts, but tell me about your "moment of
panic." When you saw the trucks parked outside the hotel on the first
day of shooting?
Sloan: I had never had trucks before. For "Pool Days," we had a van and
my dad's car. When I saw the trucks, I thought, "Oh my god, what have I
done." Then arriving on the set, the craft services table was
beautifully set up and there were donuts. I thought, "Who did all this?
There must have been little elves in the middle of the night." It was my
first movie where I wasn't in charge of getting the donuts.
iW: I heard you almost got arrested. . .
Sloan: We were shooting at this house in New Jersey and they had gotten
a permit, but not the right one. So these cops came by once and said,
"You can't shoot in the street." We said, "Oh we'll be done in five
minutes." Which is what you always say when the cops say you can't
shoot. We kept shooting and in a few minutes two cop cars come back. One
of them was the chief of police in this small New Jersey town. He starts
cursing at the location manager. I was standing with some of the actors
and could hear him yelling, "Where's the director? Where's the
director?" Lane, the producer came over and said, "Get in the house,
now!" I was like, "What's going on?"
Everyone said to get in the house and go in the basement. So I was
shuffled into the house. The cops were smart, because if you arrest the
director, you cut the head off the beast. The production is shut down.
They eventually calmed them down, maybe they paid 'em off.
iW: My favorite scene in the movie is the wedding night, when each of
the couples get together in their own way. Was that fun to shoot?
Sloan: Actually it was the most difficult. Because we had this
boom/camera thing to get on top and get the shots. It was so difficult
to light the shots so you wouldn't see any of that or the shadows of the
camera. It was the only part of the movie that was storyboarded, because
I wanted images to overlap in very specific ways. While we were
shooting, the Assistant Director was getting very upset saying, "Why are
we taking so long to get these shots? There's no dialogue, these shots
should not take so long." And I had to explain that these were very
important scenes. She saw the movie last month and came up to me
afterwards, "Now I understand."
iW: And all the party scenes in the dorm, those must have been fun to
Sloan: Actually those were some of the hardest too. Because we only had
four days to do that. It was total insanity. The apartment was so small.
Options for shooting were so limited. It looks really fun, a big party
for four days. Maddie, who plays Beth, she didn't want to see a
cigarette again after those four days. Because everyone was supposed to
be smoking and drinking, eating candy and partying for four days, they
were all physically ill at the end of four days.
iW: Did you let them all get really drunk for the scene when they are
Sloan: No. The only scene I let them have a few cocktails before was
outside of the restaurant, before going over to Trax. We were setting up
that night shot, and it took forever to light that street, so they went
to a bar and played Truth or Dare. And I can't tell what happened at the
Truth or Dare Game. That's off the record, but it really got them in the
mood for the scene. They all got along and they all started making fun
of each other like their characters in the film would. Their
relationships off the film started echoing their relationships on the
iW: Oh, so does that mean I get to ask who hooked up with whom?
Sloan: That's off the record. I didn't think anyone was getting together
with anyone, but the director doesn't know anything. The one who knows,
is the craft services woman. Because she sees everything, like who's
getting a donut for who. Craft services knows all, the director knows
iW: What's your dream project?
Sloan: I want to do a musical. I've been inching towards it with each
film. This one has two montages and the next film has four montages.
It's a high school comedy, "Sluts!" with an exclamation point so
everyone knows it's a joke. It's from a very warped perspective, which
is my perspective.