This time last year, “Like Crazy” director Drake Doremus says he was rushing to finish his intimate long-distance love story for Sundance and was completely broke. The difference between then and now is like night and day for Doremus, whose semi-autobiographical film went on to earn the Sundance Jury Prize and sparked an all-night bidding war that Paramount won. Now having the film end up getting an awards push from the studio, with most of the awards chatter about its female lead Felicity Jones, is, well, overwhelming.
“We’re just grateful to be involved in the conversation,” he says.
But besides having a much more rigid publicity schedule, he says the real change between this year and last is that the improvisational technique he used to shoot “Like Crazy” has been recognized enough to be actually called a “technique.”
“I really pride myself on the development process, on this ‘scriptment’ if you will. It’s not really a script but it’s not really an outline, it’s somewhere between,” he explains. “It forces the actors to have it come from the inside out as opposed to the outside in which is what a normal script does. Once they know every single answer to every single question, they can listen and just be in the moment. Things organically grow from there.”
He says his untitled follow-up project, which he finished shooting Sept. 15 and stars Amy Ryan and Guy Pearce as a couple who take in an exchange student, is a “darker cousin” to “Like Crazy.” And much like the attention Jones is receiving for her realistic, nuanced portrayal, Doremus’ latest casting find Mackenzie Davis is likely to generate buzz for her first professional acting role.
Popular on Variety
“I saw 250 girls for this part. I saw huge names, and Mackenzie was by far the least experienced,” Doremus says, adding, “She’s so natural. She’s a born improviser. I’m excited for the world to get to check her out next year.”
Although the ending of “Like Crazy” is ambiguous, Doremus’ path appears to be set for the foreseeable future, something he’s not taking for granted.
“I was prepared to go my whole life and make my little movies and have no one care and that would have been fine too because I love doing it.”