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Writers, Here is How Not to Interview an Acclaimed Director

Photo of Eric Eidelstein By Eric Eidelstein | Indiewire March 24, 2014 at 10:42AM

I spent the night before my interview with Drake Doremus, director of the Sundance hit "Like Crazy" and the upcoming "Breathe In," brainstorming questions and making sure I didn’t sound like a 20 year-old college kid.
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"I'm glad you brought that up, I didn't realize I do that," Doremus said, smiling. I won. Doremus and I were on our way to becoming BFFs. My dad was going to be so proud. 

But things went downhill from there.

I checked my recorder, mid-conversation. Note to reader: Don't ever check your recorder mid-conversation. An interview is like a family dinner and you can't check your phone until it's over. But since I did, I happened to notice that we were less than five minutes into our conversation and I was out of questions.  

I then remembered to ask him about his upcoming project "Equals," a sci-fi romance. Yes, I thought. I was back on track. I asked him if Felicity would appear in that film too and, well -- Doremus, it's not your fault. It was my job to check IMDB and see that Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart had already been cast as leads. It's something that everyone should do instinctively before conducting an interview, but somehow, it just hadn't occurred to me.

After the slip, I hardly knew what else to ask and I'm pretty sure Doremus noticed. At one point, I just babbled on about my personal relationship with the film. I caught myself saying "I really didn't understand..." about a scene that I had thought was completely improvised where Lauren, the daughter of the Guy Pearce's character, hits Sophie. Turns out it wasn't improvised. It was always in the script. I know nothing. 

An interview is like a family dinner and you can't check your phone until it's over.

You have to understand that Doremus had been doing back-to-back interviews all day. The guy who went in before me took up the full 15 minutes and I didn't want to leave until I had at least 10 full minutes. 

So I proceeded to humiliate myself by asking what he watched on TV, justifying the question by saying "it seems to be the thing film directors are doing lately." 

Doremus told me he liked "soaps like 'Homeland' and 'House of Cards'" and I agreed those are great ones. They key to any stable relationship is communication and I was failing you, Doremus. I had nothing else to say. I was stalling.

As we hit the nine minute mark, I realized it was probably best I wrapped up before I appeared any more unprofessional, and this is where I made the most fatal flaw. As I was about to stand up, I told Doremus that I didn't have much else to say and asked if there was any subject matter he'd specifically like to talk about. I, the person who was supposed to be steering the conversation, became a backseat passenger. No one was driving the car.

He politely said he had nothing specific to talk about and it was over. I finished and I had failed. We shook hands and I thanked him and said goodbye to what I had hoped would be a blossoming friendship. 

As I walked out, the organizers and press people in the office gave me funny looks. One woman even said, "that was fast." I nodded and left, embarrassed, but hopefully wiser. 

"Breathe In" will be released on Friday, March 28 in NYC and will open in Los Angeles and San Francisco on April 4.

This article is related to: Drake Doremus, Breathe In, Interviews, Felicity Jones, Filmmaker Toolkit





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