Last week Max Landis’ directorial debut Me Him Her premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival. Shortly before heading to Seattle, I sat down with the very busy screenwriter for an extended video interview. During the wide-ranging conversation, Landis and I talked about so many things it would be impossible to summarize it in an intro. Suffice it to say, if you’re curious about what it really takes to make a movie, this interview is definitely worth your time as he reveals a lot of the real inner workings of Hollywood.
If you’re not familiar with Max Landis, he’s written a number of projects over the past few years (like Chronicle) and he’s got a lot getting released soon like American Ultra, Victor Frankenstein, and Mr. Right. And this doesn’t count all the projects he’s working on that are still under wraps.
However, while I think the interview has a lot of highlights, I especially like his reaction when I ask him what it was like directing an Ariana Grande music video that has around 100 million views. It’s around the eighteen-minute mark.
Finally, while everyone these days is media-trained and always tries to say the safe thing, I do appreciate that Landis is willing to speak his mind and not hide behind a canned response.
One last thing…if you’re not familiar with Me Him Her, the dramedy is about three millennials trying to figure out love, friendship, sex, identity, and life in present-day Hollywood. The film stars Dustin Milligan, Luke Bracey, Emily Meade, Alia Shawkat, Rebecca Drysdale, and Haley Joel Osment. You can watch a clip here.
Here’s the interview followed by what we talked about. If you’d like to see Landis play “Save or Kill” you can watch that here.
- Talks about the genesis of the project. How some of the scenes in the film really happened to him.
- How he learned a lot about writing after directing his first feature.
- Talks about the tone.
- 3:55 – Talks about putting together the cast and how there aren’t many movie stars in their late 20s that can get a movie made.
- 5:20 – What actors bring international money.
- 6:30 – What films are being made in the studio system.
- 7:00 – How social media and the 24/7 news cycle has changed the way we view movie stars and people.
- 8:55 – Talks about the first cut of Me Him Her and how it’s a lot different than what he is releasing. The first cut had a mountain lion, the devil, and numerous other scenes that were cut out.
- 9:40 – How his opinion that screenwriters deserve more credit for movies has changed and explains why.
- 11:40 – What advice would he give himself if he could go back to the first day of filming?
- 13:30 – How much did he pick the cast versus his casting director?
- 16:10 – How did he end up directing the Ariana Grande video? Talks about shooting it over a day.
17:40 – What is it like directing a music video with 100 million views?
- 19:50 – What has the last 6 months been like for him?
- 22:00 – Why Forrest J. Ackerman means so much to him.
- 24:50 – Social media talk and how you shouldn’t read replies.
- 25:50 – American Ultra talk. Talks about his reactions to the different cuts of the film he’s seen.
- 26:50 – Talks about what American Ultra is about.
- 28:40 – Kristen Stewart talk and casting American Ultra.
- 30:00 – The way you feel when your movie is about to come out.
- 30:55 – What is the synopsis for Me Him Her?
- 33:30 – Talks about Victor Frankenstein and Right.
- 35:55 – Talks about how much Right has changed since he first wrote it.
- 36:30 – What finally got Right to sell?
- 37:50 – What is he allowed to talk about regarding the projects he has pitched/written. Reveals he’s worked on a number of big projects he can’t talk about.
- 38:40 – Tells perspective screenwriters what it’ll take to make it.
- 41:10 – How the talking drama is dead in the Hollywood studio system.
- 42:40 – What is he writing right now? Reveals he’s sold a TV show but can’t say more yet.
- 43:50 – Talks about the scripts he’s working on now and what they’re about.