The BYT Interview: Nick Weiss
Nick Weiss is an up-and-coming writer and director, currently working with ABC Studios. Nick is best-known for directing Senior Skip Day (2008), and for both writing and directing his latest film Drunk Wedding, released this summer by Paramount Pictures.
Despite it being a comedy, there are a lot of truly heartfelt moments in Drunk Wedding. Was it difficult to decide when to bring those moments out?
From the start we wanted the movie to balance big laughs with authenticity and connection between the characters. I think it's less about trying to put heartfelt moments into the movie, and more about creating authentic characters who genuinely care about each other and putting them in some tough spots, and hopefully some real emotion comes out of that. I think if you try to force a "heartfelt moment" into a movie for its own sake, it can feel forced or cheesy or phoney.
Did the inspiration for any of these characters come from your own peer group?
Honestly, a lot of it came from the actors themselves. We started with characters and situations we thought would be funny, but once we found these actors we loved, we rewrote the characters to take advantage of who they were and what they had to offer. It was very collaborative and gratifying. Casting is really the most crucial part of the process. When you have a talented actor who's right for a role, they're a gift that keeps on giving in every take in every scene. Conversely, when you have the wrong person in a role (something, thank god, that didn't happen in this movie), there's often nothing you can say as a director to get the performance you need. You live and die by your casting choices. This was a really talented bunch.
Do you think having a relatively small budget helped at all? For example, did it make certain decisions easier?
It certainly simplifies a lot of things. You need to be very clear in your head about what's important and what's minor, because both your money and your time are so precious. You stay focused on what you're confident will be in the final cut, and will matter in the final cut. That's a good clarifying force.
The film has, of course, drawn many comparisons with the Hangover series. Were there any decisions that you made to try and differentiate your film from that?
At the time that we started working on the film, the idea of using found footage in a comedy was pretty fresh. It had been done famously in a few horror movies (and has now been used so much in horror it's probably just about run its course), but we thought bringing the immediacy and sense of reality of found footage to a raunchy comedy could support the laughs in a cool way by heightening the sense that this was actually happening. Judd Apatow's comedies, especially The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up ushered in an era of grounded comedies that felt more real. We felt like found footage could be a way to take that even further.
Was the New York Times article (chronicling the film’s distribution struggles) vindicating for you at all?
It was nice to get the exposure, and I hope interesting for people to read about some of the ins and outs of the movie biz. Also, my wife liked the picture of me, so that was a big win.
If I’m not mistaken, you're now working with ABC Studios. Are there any specific projects you can tell us about so that we can start getting excited?
It's really hilarious to have just done this filthy R-rated movie and now be working with a network dedicated to relatively wholesome family comedies. It's a testament to how awesome ABC is for seeing something in my work they want to bring into their brand.