The 43-year-old actor’s dark comedy — his directorial debut — premieres Friday in Toronto. The indie, produced by Bateman’s 18-month-old Aggregate Films with Darko and MXN Entertainment, was shot over 29 days at the end of the year in Los Angeles with the Sportsman’s Lodge in the San Fernando Valley serving as the location for the national spelling bee final.
“We shot five and six pages a day, so we had to hustle,” said Bateman, who aims to work in the same dark humor vein as Judd Apatow, Steven Soderbergh, David O. Russell and Ben Stiller.
“Bad Words,” which cost under $10 million, stars Bateman as a foul-mouthed high-school dropout who enters a national children’s spelling bee through a registration loophole.
“This is sort of the ‘Bad Santa’ of spelling bees,” Bateman said.
The thesp-turned-director is quick to credit Andrew Dodge’s Black List script and his former agent Dan Aloni, who found the the script. “Andrew Dodge is the story editor at Sony so it’s as if the professor has finally written a script,” he said.
“I’ve always thought of Toronto as a real filmmakers’ festival,” said Bateman, who was at TIFF for “Juno” and “Up in the Air.” “Filmmaking and moviemaking can co-exist — Soderbergh does that with ‘Out of Sight’ and the ‘Ocean’s’ films, which are very sophisticated yet commercial.”