In For A Good Time, Call ..., Katie (Ari Graynor) and Lauren (Lauren Miller) are two "frenemies" economically forced to live together in a New York apartment. When push comes to shove, they decide to work together to start a phone sex hot line, as originally privately pioneered by Katie. The film is written by Lauren Miller and Katie Naylon, whose friendship inspired the script. It is directed by first-time helmer Jamie Travis, whose short films can be viewed on Vimeo here.
In a roundtable interview, I talked to this quartet about their film, the importance of shooting it in New York, what they kept from the colorful set, and more.
For A Good Time, Call ... opens in Chicago on August 31.
This is a very New York movie, especially as indicated by the film's opening credits. How important was it to you all to set this story in New York? How different do you think the film would be if it were in Los Angeles?
Lauren Miller: It was really important to set it in New York. Katie and I lived in New York, so it has a special place in our hearts. Living in NY is not easy living; rents are high, apartments are small, roommates are crazy. Bed bugs are rampant. It's hard to find a nice place to live. It was important to create a universe so you would understand why two enemies would live together.
Ari Graynor: The stakes had to be as high as possible, which really only happens in terms of real estate in New York.
Katie Naylon : I see all those people in New York and I'm like, "I feel yo bro."
Miller: At one point during pre-production when it was becoming pricey to shoot NY over LA, we went down the creative roads.
Naylon: But it was like, "No, she gets a studio in Studio City, and lives in the valley. She doesn't need to live in West Hollywood with this girl she doesn't like."
Graynor: And it also helps with the jobs - all of the jobs that Katie has at the start of the film. There's a real economic issue that I think isn't paralleled outside of New York.
Jamie Travis: There's also a romance about New York. And this movie does have a lot of romantic motifs in it, I think it needs that. Even the New York-ness story quality to it, you think of movies like Working Girl, and movies about people struggling to work in the city.
Graynor: And big dreams too. Movies set in New York have big dreams!
Naylon: The Gramercy Park part of it was important. We wanted it to be magical, and a little unattainable.
Ari, you wear some very tasteful bell-bottoms, and then of course there are the pink phones. With such a heavily designed set, what items did you take away from it after filming?
Miller: Katie and I got the phones.
Graynor: I kept the white jumpsuit. We had an incredible costume designer, we were on the same page from the get-go. I took some other clothes.
Naylon: Oh, I have some stuff. This set was dressed like the Titanic. Everything was there. There were crumbs on the counter.
Graynor: But Jamie has a very great visual sense, and we had a great production designer. The look of the movie is so important because I think it helps elevate it to a slightly fantastical reality, where it is based now, but it has a nostalgic feel. There is a fairytale sense to it that is rally important.
Travis: When you think about phone sex, in a real way, it is dark. I always pictured Jennifer Jason Leigh in Short Cuts, a kid in each arm. I think part of the stylization with the wardrobe and the sets and the hair, making it a beauty driven film, was just elevating it into fantasy a little. I think that really helped the comedy.
Naylon: It really makes it work. In the montage, when she hands her the phone and says, "Guzzling cum, my favorite!" but her room is so cute and her eye make-up is cute, it's like, "This isn't dirty, this isn't wrong. My parents can see this, I think."
Speaking of which, there is an element of parental approval in this film. Did you have to convince your parents about any part of this project?
Graynor: We have over-involved Jewish parents who were excited.
Miller: And the parents in the movie are named after my parents. My dad told us we needed to be more creative with our penis names.
So your parents aren't like the ones they're named after in the movie?
Miller: If this were real, my parents would act in the same way.
Finally, how did you all decide on what phone number to use for the film's phone sex agency?
Miller: We were writing. It was a placeholder, and people responded to it. I remember we agreed that [the phone number] couldn't be anything so specific, and so specifically dirty, because that wouldn't work.
Naylon: My actual phone number [at the time] was 1-866-FSU-TITS. Way more specific and clever. But, I needed the phone number to have marketing to it, so there you go.