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by Nigel M Smith
November 11, 2011 11:47 AM
21 Comments
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Will You See This Movie? "Mutual Friends," an Ensemble NYC Comedy With a Twist

Michael Seto Matthew Watts on set with actress Caitlin Fitzgerald.

Plenty of movies feature a bevvy of characters with seperate plots whose stories converge over the course of a big event. So what makes Matthew Watts' New York-set comedy about seven intertwining stories stand out from the pack? Each story was written by a different writer.

"I came up with the idea about a year and a half ago," Watts told Indiewire on a lunch break from shooting the film. "I set up these parameters and sent them out to writer friends of mine and they pitched me these shorts. I took the ones that would go best with the film and I intertwined them. It's been more challenging than I thought it would be. I thought we'd smack them all together and shoot a movie. We could have done that, but it wouldn't of been as strong narratively."

"The most difficult thing of all is just the scheduling," Watts said of managing his huge cast. "It's a tiny movie, so everybody's working on other things."

The first draft featured a whopping 29 characters and ran a hefty 120 pages. It's since been whittled down by Watt's wife Amy Higgins and Craig DiFolco to 16 principals, with five main stories. "We wound up combining a lot of characters," Watts said, "which was a lot of fun."

The finished product, which Watts refers to as "an indie, New York centric, micro-budget 'Love Actually,'" takes place in one day to track a group of 30-somethings, all headed to a surprise party that's destined to fail.

For a micro-budget indie, Watts has assembled an impressive group of actors to bring this comedy to life. The ensemble includes Caitlin Fitzgerald ("Newlyweds"), Cheyenne Jackson ("30 Rock"), Michael Chernus ("Higher Ground") and Michael Stahl-David ("Cloverfield").

"The most difficult thing of all is just the scheduling," Watts said of managing his huge cast. "It's a tiny movie, so everybody's working on other things. It all revolves around a party. Ideally, we would have shot it chronologically, but due to people's schedules, we had to do the party first. We made it happen.

"In terms of directing my actors," Watts continued, "I've been very fortunate. There are a lot of intertwining stories out there and there are many that aren't that successful. The reason is that audiences don't really have enough time to spend with these characters to get to know them. Everyone in the cast understood from the beginning that they need to be clear about what they're problem is, what action they take to overcome their obstacles and what their arc is. Having that conversation with everyone beforehand helped a lot."

"Mutual Friends" is scheduled to wrap shooting on November 12 and will debut next year.

"Mutual Friends"
Director: Matthew Watts
Writers: Amy Higgins, Craig DiFolco, Francisco Angones, Jessica Burstein, Olivia Silver, Ross Partridge, Matthew Watts
Executive Producer: Mike Tannen
Producer: Jennifer Westin
Line Producer: Roweena Mackay
Costume Designer: Tracey Moulton
Production Designer: Simone Duff
DP: Ming Kai Leung
Casting Director: Paul Schnee, Kerry Barden, Allison Estrin
Cast: Caitlin Fitzgerald, Cheyenne Jackson, Michael Chernus, Michael Stahl-David, Ross Partridge, Peter Scanavino, Christina Cole, Annika Peterson

21 Comments

  • Rylee | December 10, 2011 2:17 PMReply

    Can't wait to see this movie!! I'm talking with your brother right this second

  • Amy Maneely | December 10, 2011 12:50 PMReply

    Looks interesting. One to watch.

  • Jen Mac | December 9, 2011 2:12 PMReply

    Way to go Jenn Westin -- looking forward to it! Hi from Kazoo.

  • ROWDY R | November 16, 2011 2:35 PMReply

    That chick is hot.

  • Paul | November 15, 2011 3:35 PMReply

    With Mike Tannen as the Exec Producer, you know it has to be good. The man has an eye (and nose) for value.

  • Eileen | November 14, 2011 2:13 PMReply

    I love movies of this type, with many different, interesting characters. It sounds like a fun movie. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

  • Joel | November 14, 2011 8:52 AMReply

    A genus in a world of assets yields a potential for a memorable result!
    I can not wait to see it.

  • Joe Moboerl | November 14, 2011 6:49 AMReply

    Very good cast. Looks like this shoot might be the refreshing real life comedy we all need. I can't wait to it on the big screen. I'm betting on this one.

  • carrie | November 13, 2011 1:36 PMReply

    Will definitely see this movie - what a great twist on the standard approach to intertwining life/love stories.

  • MM | November 13, 2011 10:37 AMReply

    Just read this. Looks pretty good, although will have to see it first, I guess. I'll admit to loving Love Actually. Will be great to see Cheyenne Jackson in a real role. He's my favorite. FAV-O-RITE.

  • Lucinda | November 13, 2011 8:32 AMReply

    Like Matthew Watts leaning on the actors sense to weave a multi authored story. God knows we needs a charming funny love story. Caitlin FitzGerald brought all that to Newlyweds. Looking Forward.

  • JASON | November 12, 2011 12:35 PMReply

    Whoa. This looks pretty good. She's hot and I actually dug her in It's Complicated.

  • Myra | November 12, 2011 11:23 AMReply

    Of course I'm looking forward to seeing this film. It looks very intrigueing , can't wait to see the ruse behind it all.

  • john | November 11, 2011 11:06 PMReply

    Of course i'm seeing this!

  • tim | November 11, 2011 10:17 PMReply

    looks interesting. All these different writers and huge cast, I want to see if they pulled it off... Cheyenne Jackson's pretty dope.

  • Pam Allen | November 11, 2011 9:52 PMReply

    Can't wait to see Caitlin FitzGerald in another movie--she was great in Newlyweds.

  • Des Jefferson | November 12, 2011 8:59 AM

    I agree, Caitlin has got it going and is a pure pleasure to watch on screen.

  • Sonia | November 11, 2011 7:32 PMReply

    This sounds awesome! Can wait to see it!

  • Rob | November 11, 2011 7:28 PMReply

    Sounds interesting. I can't wait to see it!! The cast is strong, and with Matt Watts directing it is sure to be incredible.

  • TERRIE-T | November 11, 2011 2:45 PMReply

    Hell yes, I'll see this thing. Love the actors and Love Actually.

  • Adam | November 11, 2011 2:39 PMReply

    Will DEFINITELY see this movie. Sounds awesome, great cast!