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Meet the 2011 Sundance Filmmakers | “Like Crazy” Director Drake Doremus

Meet the 2011 Sundance Filmmakers | "Like Crazy" Director Drake Doremus

“Like Crazy” is a film from and about the heart. Jacob, an American, and Anna, who is British, meet at college in Los Angeles and fall madly in love. It’s the purest kind of romance—they’re each other’s first significant attachment. When Anna returns to London, the couple is forced into a long-distance relationship. Their perfect love is tested, and youth, trust, and geography become their biggest enemies.

Taking a complete tonal departure from his last film, “Douchebag,” which screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, cowriter/director Drake Doremus poetically reveals the intimate details and daily struggles of Jacob and Anna’s love affair as it stretches between time and distance and changes course. Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones are enthralling in their sweetness and honesty as the young couple. An original, contemplative look at first love, “Like Crazy” strikes a universal chord as it explores the bittersweet beauty and impermanence of relationships. [Synopsis courtesy of Sundance Institute]

“Like Crazy”
U.S. Dramatic Competition
Director: Drake Doremus
Screenwriter: Drake Doremus, Ben York Jones
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston, Oliver Muirhead
Executive Producer: Zygi Wilf, Audrey Wilf
Producer: Jonathan Schwartz, Andrea Sperling
Composer: Dustin O’Halloran
Cinematographer: John Guleserian
Editor: Jonathan Alberts
Production Designer: Katie Byron

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Responses courtesy of “Like Crazy” director Drake Doremus.

Combining two art forms…

I grew up on stage learning, performing and eventually directing improv since I was six. After years of doing that and watching Woody Allen’s movies while growing up, I thought I’d try to make a short film and from there I was addicted to the idea of combining the two art forms.

“Like Crazy”‘s evolution…

It evolved from thinking about life and the relationships that make it what it is. The idea started to sprout right after Sundance last year and funny enough, I was dead-set on making another film next but I found more and more that the idea of “Like Crazy” just wouldn’t go away, so I had to make it.

“Like Crazy” director Drake Doremus. Image courtesy of Sundance Institute.

An organic working process…

The approach is pretty simple in a way. Like on my last film “Douchebag,” I make the film from an elaborate fifty page outline and rehearse rigorously with my actors. Then I just let it grow into a movie; sometimes scenes work and sometimes they don’t but the goal is always to find truth in a moment and let the performances breathe and the story unfold without forcing anything on the audience.

Toughest challenge in making the film…

I would say putting it together so fast. We got back from Sundance in February and started developing this pretty much right away and then went into pre-production and then we were shooting in June. I’d say that time was the toughest thing to contend with. I owe a lot of things coming together the way they did to my producers Jonathan Schwartz and Andrea Sperling. I don’t feel like I had to make too many compromises on what I wanted to make and for that I am very grateful.

Going with the gut..

I hadn’t seen Anton and Felicity together in a room until the first day of rehearsal and that was just a gut decision. I had seen Anton with a bunch of actresses but Felicity was in London and couldn’t come into to read so she put herself on tape in her flat and emailed it to me. I was so blown away by the tape that I just made the gut call and cast her, and we flew her over not knowing if she’d have any chemistry with Anton, and the rest is history. They became fast friends and there were no barriers between them and between us, It was the purest and most open form of collaboration. I have never experienced anything like it and I think that magic is what makes the movie special.

Love for the Sundance audience…

Going into it with a comedy last year I was so nervous about audience reaction in the room, but this year with a drama, I’m more excited to let the movie sink in and not worry about laughs. I love Sundance audiences. I think they are comprised of some of the most film-savvy audiences in the world. They are hungry for great work and they are rooting for it. I hope audiences feel like they just watched a really honest and raw look at romantic relationships and if anyone has ever been in a long term relationship, hopefully the film will resonate with them.

What Doremus watched to prep himself…

I think it’s very important to let yourself be influenced by other filmmakers. I was watching a lot of Lars von Trier prior to shooting. The actors in his films are always so lacking in self-awareness. His actors give such vulnerable and beautiful performances. I was also watching “Y Tu Mama Tambien” a lot. I love the way that film is shot and how the voyeuristic feel can sometimes reveal a very intimate moment. I think sometimes, even if it’s a really intense moment, the camera doesn’t always have to be right in the actor’s face and I think “Y Tu Mama” succeeds so well in proving that.

Taking a break…

Right now, none. Doing two movies in two years has made me exhausted and I feel so lucky to have been able to do that. So….nothing right now but I’m sure by spring something will be bubbling. 
[indieWIRE invited directors with films in the Sundance U.S. Dramatic & Documentary Competitions as well as the World Dramatic & Documentary Competitions and NEXT section to submit responses in their own words about their films. These profiles are being published through the beginning of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. To prompt the discussion, iW asked the filmmakers about what inspired their films, the challenges they faced and other general questions. They were also free to add additional comments related to their projects.]

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