Interview: Drake Doremus of "Douchebag"

10/15/2010 Posted by Admin

Interview: Drake Doremus of "Douchebag"

By our guest blogger, Joel Crabtree

Usually, when somebody shouts “douche bag!” from across the street, it’s not a good thing. But for Drake Doremus, it means that his new film (brilliantly titled “Douchebag”) is building an audience in the indie film world.

“Douchebag” follows the journey of estranged brothers Sam and Tom Nussbaum (Andrew Dickler and Ben York Jones) searching for Tom’s fifth-grade girlfriend, Mary Barger, as Sam’s wedding approaches.

While recently roaming the streets of New York, Doremus took some time to talk to about his microbudget movie, discovering an editor’s surprising gift for acting and the title “Douchebag.”

Joel Crabtree: I guess you probably get this a lot, but how is it that you came about the title “Douchebag.”

Drake Doremus: Originally the movie was called “Ms. Barger.” But the wonderful producer Jonathan Schwartz felt that we wouldn’t get as much traction with that title. So, going into the whole Sundance experience, we were just throwing stuff around and we came up with it and thought it was really funny. We just went for it, and it really does sort of describe the character in the film.

JC: How did the story of the film come about?

DD: I had done another small, microbudget movie called “Spooner” in 2007, and kind of wanted to get more into doing a straight-up improv movie again. Myself and Ben York Jones, who plays Tom in the movie, had made an improv movie together in 2001. It was the first movie we ever made. And I was thinking, well, we’ve gotta get back to doing something like that. And I met Andrew Dickler in the editing room. He’d never acted a day in his life, he’d never wanted to act. And I just asked him to be in it because he was such a unique and interesting guy with the beard, and the sandals and socks, and his opinions about vegetarianism, and all the different things he speaks about in the movie. So, I asked him to do it, and Ben and Andrew play brothers in the movie, and we just went and did it.

JC: Is there one of the brothers in the film that you find yourself relating to more than the other?

DD: Definitely. In a way, it’s Tom’s movie because you go through the journey with him and root for him to find piece with his brother and love and many other things. So essentially, he’s sort of the connection piece to the film.

JC: Did you draw characters and scenarios from real-life experiences?

DD: Absolutely. A lot of the conversations that Tom and Sam have in this film, are conversations I had with Andrew at times. And they go on a journey at one point of the film -- one of the catalysts of the road trip -- they go on a journey to find Tom’s fifth-grade girlfriend. And her name is Mary Barger. And Mary Barger was actually my fifth-grade girlfriend and I actually found her after we’d made the movie. She came to Sundance and saw it at Sundance, and I saw her there for the first time in 15 years. That was a really cool thing that happened because of the film.

JC: Speaking of, what was your reaction when you found out that the film was going to premiere at Sundance?

DD: It was a life-changing experience and moment. It was something we geared towards for a year and half prior to that. And I think growing up and making movies, it’s always sort of in the back of your mind [that] well, that’s sort of the top of the mountain. You want to get there eventually. You want to fight to get there. It was an out-of-body experience.

Certainly we weren’t expecting to be in dramatic competition--we were hoping maybe to be in the NEXT category, because we’re such a small microbudget movie. But to be in that category was overwhelming and humbling, and we were so grateful. And the experience itself, and having people react to that movie, it was really the best week ever. It can’t be topped.

JC: What was it like being at Sundance?  Was it your first time there?

DD: No, second time. We had a movie there the year before, “Spooner." So, we were kind of on the outskirts and kind of experienced it, but certainly nothing like being in competition. That was a totally different experience. But being there, I mean, it’s just amazing. You really do feel like a celebrity in a way because everyone knows who you are, you’re on the streets, everyone’s screaming “Douchebag” at you. We couldn’t walk like 10 feet without someone screaming “Douchebag” at us, which was a highlight, for sure. I think Andrew got a little sick of it, but I enjoyed it very much.

JC: Hopefully, that’s the first time people have done that to you.

DD: No, it happens all the time. People are screaming “Douchebag” at me all the time.

JC: In the film, one of the characters, Tom, could be considered kind of a slacker. Were you influenced at all by the wave of mid-’90s slacker indie hits at all?

DD: Not as much as maybe you’d think. I think I was more influenced by Woody Allen’s movies, sort of the sense of pre-naturalism, where people are talking among each other and people are really having conversations. Things go really unrehearsed and things just kind of happen and you just find an organic moment as opposed to trying to have an actor hit a mark. Instead of trying to create a moment, the moment creates itself.

JC: Now that you’ve had your breakout indie hit here, where do you see your career going?

DD: You know, that’s a good question. I don’t know.  Ben and I just wrote a movie I directed that we shot in June, starring Jennifer Lawrence from “Winter’s Bone” and Anton Yelchin. Both very young, exciting actors, and we’re cutting it now.  It’s really exciting. We did it in the same vein, we did it imrpov, we had a 50-page outline and we just went out and did it. I think the goal for me is to make a movie a year, every spring to be shooting. [I’ve] been able to do it for the last three years, and I think the goal would be to do it for another five, six, seven, eight, strecth it out to 10. And just keep making movies. As long as the ideas are there, and they don’t get compromised by going this fast, then I just want to keep making. Making them and working.

JC: It’s funny that you mention that, because Woody Allen pretty much puts out a movie every year.

DD: You got it. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s definitely the inspiration, for sure.

JC: Do you enjoy working with smaller budgets in general?

DD: I think so. I almost did a bigger movie this year--and I almost don’t want to. It’s so exciting to work in the small microbudgets, because you really do get control and get to do what you want to do. I would love to do a bigger movie when I’ve got enough of the little ones when I can almost do what I want. The idea of having control and not having big crews and keeping it intimate, it’s really satisfying. And I don’t necessarily have that big of an interest. I would rather not be making millions of dollars and be making what I want to make.  That’s more important to me.

Below is the trailer for “Douchebag.” The movie is currently playing in select cities and expanding throughout October. What are your thoughts?

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