Tyro helmer’s ‘End’ game

Scafaria secured starry cast to earn helming debut

When Lorene Scafaria sold her pitch for “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” to Mandate in 2008, she had one stipulation: The buyers had to agree to let her make her directorial debut with the film.

It was quite a request from a writer with only one produced feature to her name, “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist” (2008), and a handful of spec sales and assignments. But even with the deal in her pocket, she knew it was no guarantee she’d actually get to helm the film.

“I don’t think anyone would’ve gotten rid of me,” she says. “It was more a matter of getting a cast to approve of me as a first-time director, and be interested enough in the script to do it for very little money.”

So it was no small thing when Scafaria met with Steve Carell in early 2011 to talk about him playing the film’s lead character, Dodge, a meek man who, faced with the Earth’s imminent destruction, boldly embarks on a road trip to find his high school sweetheart, accompanied by his free-spirited neighbor, Penny.

As she developed the film, Scafaria would call on friends and family to ask how they’d spend the end of days.

Her meeting with Carell took a similar turn. “We got personal right away,” Scafaria says. “He talked about his brothers and his parents, and I talked about my father who had passed. He had incredible insight into (the idea).”

Carell committed to make “Seeking a Friend” his first post-“Office” role, which gave Scafaria the juice to land Keira Knightley for the role of Penny — along with additional financing from Indian Paintbrush. Focus Features distributes.

Scafaria says she felt very calm on the set, though she does relate that the relative scarcity of women in the job produced a few small obstacles. “There were a couple of days when security didn’t believe I was the director,” she laughs.

More Film

  • Kevin Hart Great Outdoors

    Film News Roundup: Kevin Hart Boards Action-Comedy 'On the Run' at Universal

    When Lorene Scafaria sold her pitch for “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” to Mandate in 2008, she had one stipulation: The buyers had to agree to let her make her directorial debut with the film. It was quite a request from a writer with only one produced feature to her name, […]

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    AMC Adding Late-Night Screenings for 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'

    When Lorene Scafaria sold her pitch for “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” to Mandate in 2008, she had one stipulation: The buyers had to agree to let her make her directorial debut with the film. It was quite a request from a writer with only one produced feature to her name, […]

  • Donald Trump 'Mentally Unfit' to Be

    Donald Trump Is 'Mentally Unfit' to Be U.S. President, Rob Reiner Says

    When Lorene Scafaria sold her pitch for “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” to Mandate in 2008, she had one stipulation: The buyers had to agree to let her make her directorial debut with the film. It was quite a request from a writer with only one produced feature to her name, […]

  • Tiffany Haddish Girls Trip

    Tiffany Haddish Joins Ike Barinholtz in Satirical Thriller 'The Oath'

    When Lorene Scafaria sold her pitch for “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” to Mandate in 2008, she had one stipulation: The buyers had to agree to let her make her directorial debut with the film. It was quite a request from a writer with only one produced feature to her name, […]

  • Redbox On Demand - Roku

    Redbox Launches Digital Movie and TV Service, Without Disney Titles

    When Lorene Scafaria sold her pitch for “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” to Mandate in 2008, she had one stipulation: The buyers had to agree to let her make her directorial debut with the film. It was quite a request from a writer with only one produced feature to her name, […]

  • Nabil Ayouch Talks Taboos, Arab Youth,

    Nabil Ayouch: ‘No Subject Should be Taboo in the Arab World’

    When Lorene Scafaria sold her pitch for “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” to Mandate in 2008, she had one stipulation: The buyers had to agree to let her make her directorial debut with the film. It was quite a request from a writer with only one produced feature to her name, […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content