In the short film It’s Not You, It’s Me, a young woman’s (Gillian Jacobs) relationship takes a dark turn when every sound her boyfriend (Fran Kranz) makes starts to annoy her. And then, things start to get really messy. Directed by Matt Spicer, you can view the film through JASH, a comedy collective on YouTube that gives comedians and artists a platform to create and control their own digital content, at www.youtube.com/buh.
During this recent exclusive interview with Collider, actress Gillian Jacobs talked about how this project came about for her, being a big fan of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, how much fun she had working with Fran Kranz and Rob Huebel, how crazy it was to shoot so much content in only three days, and how the idea of JASH has inspired her to think about creating her own original content. She also talked about why the crazy concept of Bad Milo (a horror comedy about a guy who learns that his unusual stomach problems are being caused by a demon living in his intestines) appealed to her, what it’s meant to her to be a part of a series like Community, that the fans are so dedicated and devoted to, and how she ultimately wants to find a balance between comedy and drama work. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
GILLIAN JACOBS: I read a script for it, and I thought it was great and dark and funny and twisted. So, I had a meeting with Matt Spicer, who co-wrote it and directed it, and I thought, “Why not?! I’ll go kill some people for a few days.”
Does the tone of this short fall in line with your own comedic sensibilities, both as an actress and as an audience member?
JACOBS: Yeah, totally! I like strange, weird, dark things. And I’m really a fan of Tim [Heidecker] and Eric [Wareheim], and a lot of the people behind JASH. I’m really excited that they wanted to distribute the short because those are the people that I look up to. I’m always telling Ken Jung that, in life, I seek Tim and Eric’s approval, so to be on their YouTube channel is really exciting for me.
Did you have any idea that the character you were playing was based on the director’s ex-girlfriend?
JACOBS: No. He talked more about how his own habits had annoyed his exes. We didn’t really talk about who my character was based on.
Is this one of those characters that you have to worry about a bit, if you identify with her too much?
JACOBS: She’s your average person times a thousand. Her impulses start in the same place, but then she takes it to a really terrible, dark, horrible, awful place.
What was it like to work with Fran Kranz? Was it challenging to have such a short amount of time to establish a relationship like that?
JACOBS: It was fun because we got to have a day of rehearsal, with me, Frank and Matt. We talked about being in a longer relationship and what that does to you, and what sort of head space you can get into, and what kinds of irrational thoughts can start to consume you. But, I thought Fran was so great in the short. He really just went for it. God, sitting there in his underwear, slurping those noodles, it was really great to watch him and it was really fun to get a chance to act with him.
How did Fran Kranz’s approach to comedy compare to Rob Huebel’s approach to comedy?
JACOBS: I think everybody was trying to be in the same piece, tonally, so it was a similar approach. It was grounded, but also silly, for both of them. Rob is obviously a great improviser, as well. Especially in the stuff with the kids, at the end, that’s all Rob improvising. He’s amazing at it.
Is everything that you shot in the short, or did you shoot anything that got cut?
JACOBS: That was the script. We had a really limited amount of time, so we were really racing to get everything that was written in there. So, everything you see in there is the script. That’s kudos to Matt.
After this woman gets rid of her annoying boyfriend, she ends up with a guy who seems ideal, and who has a steady job and a willingness to play with their kids, but that ultimately annoys her, too. Do you think she’s just the type of person who would find something to be annoyed by, in just about everyone?
JACOBS: Obviously, she’s a sociopath, murdering all those people. She would probably have problems with anyone.
JACOBS: I don’t know how much hope I have for this woman. This woman probably should be alone. She doesn’t really seem to have a moral compass.
Have you ever been that annoyed or repulsed by something someone you know does?
JACOBS: I’m sure. I think that happens whether it’s a dating relationship, or just when you’re in close proximity to people for years on end. My college at Juilliard, there were only 15 of us in our class, and we had all of our classes together for four years, so we definitely fought like that, as a class. No one killed anyone, but there were lots of clashes amongst us. Either you’d be annoyed with someone, or they’d be annoyed with you. It really helps to develop a greater degree of self-awareness when people are pointing out all the annoying, stupid things you do, that you’re probably not even aware of, at the beginning.
With so much happening in this, in such a short amount of time, how crazy was it to shoot all of this in just three days?
JACOBS: It was nuts! It was a race against time, from the moment we started to the moment we wrapped, each day. We had to have a couple of location changes in one day. Also, we ended a day with me setting the car on fire. It was very ambitious, even for something that has a substantial budget. When you’re trying to do a short for two dimes that you’re rubbing together, it took a lot of hard work and hustle, on the part of the crew, the director and the producers to pull it off.
And you got to do so much in this, in such a short amount of time.
JACOBS: I know! Plus, you add in special effects things and you have to have a special effects person there to do post effects. There were so many elements to it, and never enough time.
JACOBS: I probably was, but he kept me away from that. I don’t remember seeing that. I’ve been in a lot of indie movies, where we didn’t necessarily have permits or permission. I’ve definitely run from the cops in the New York City subways. So, that’s not entirely new to me.
As someone who does a fair amount of comedy work, how cool is it to have something like this, where people can really have a platform to create and have that freedom? Does it inspire you to want to do something yourself?
JACOBS: Yeah, definitely! I’ve been thinking about making stuff on my own for awhile now, and when you see people like Matt and all the people at JASH do this, it gets you inspired to think about your own ideas. I’ve been making Vine videos for a couple of months. They’re just six-second little videos, but I really have fun doing them. It’s fun to feel like you created something. So, yeah, I hope, in the future, I’ll be putting up something I came up with on JASH, or some other platform.
This seemed like such a crazy story idea, but then I saw the red band trailer for Bad Milo. What was it that attracted you to that project? Did someone say, “It’s a movie about an ass monster,” and you said, “Sign me up!”?
JACOBS: Well, you can see how sick and twisted I am, that I’m drawn to these things. I read the script and when I heard it was going to be a puppet that was a practical effect and not CGI, I was really interested. Also, Ken Marino was already attached, and I’m such a fan of his that I was really excited to get the chance to work with him. Once again, it was something I’m never done before. It’s a grounded horror comedy. It’s silly and funny, but not all the time. There are grounded elements to it, and Ken gives a very grounded performance, as a man going through something absurd. I feel like, “Why not hit on every genre you can, in your career?!” That’s the fun of being an actor. You get to bounce around to a lot of different worlds.
JACOBS: It’s really amazing to be a part of something that people have an emotional response to, even though it’s a network sitcom. When you get a chance to meet fans or interact with them, you realize that there are a lot of people who the show speaks to, and that they really get something out of it, beyond just laughing. That’s really fulfilling. I keep reminding myself, through all the ups and downs of Community, that I might never have another job that really means something to people, the way Community means something to people. It’s a real privilege to be a part of that. That’s more powerful than ratings. There are definitely times when we all wish that the show was more popular, but you can’t really shake a stick at a loyal, devoted, awesome fan base like we have.
Has it been challenging or frustrating to never know if the show is coming back, or even who the showrunner is going to be?
JACOBS: Yeah, it’s a journey unlike any other, but it’s a TV show unlike any other, with the content, the episodes, and all the behind-the-scenes ups and downs. It’s my first TV show, so I don’t really have anything to compare it to, but I’ve come to realize that it’s not normal. Nothing about Community is normal. But, maybe I’ll miss this chaos, if I’m ever on a show that’s much more steady and predictable. It certainly keeps things interesting. I’ve never been bored making Community. For a lot of actors, their greatest fear in signing on for a TV show is that they’re going to be bored, and we’ve certainly never been bored. When I try to explain to people, who have never seen the show, what it is and what we’ve done, I don’t even know where to begin. Sometimes I just end up showing people the different costumes I’ve worn.
You’ve also done projects recently like Walk of Shame and Life Partners, and now Black and White with Kevin Costner, which are all very different types of projects. Is that intentional, on your part?
JACOBS: I definitely try to switch it up, but then I also like to be hired, so you have to go where the job is. I always want to do something I haven’t done before, and get to work with other actors, writers or directors that I want to work with. So, there are different reasons for taking different projects, but I’m happy with the diversity of the movies I’ve been able to do.
Is the goal to ultimately find a balance between comedy and drama?
JACOBS: I think so because I like both of them. When you’re doing one for a long time, then you start to get the itch to do the other. For me, yeah, that’s certainly what I’d like to do. I’ve also just been enjoying this new phase of my career, where I’m in comedy. I didn’t do that at all, for the first part of my career.
It’s Not You, It’s Me can be viewed through JASH right here.