By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 2, 2011 at 2:00AM
One of the Sundance Fest’s biggest sales ($4 million), Like Crazy is Drake Doremus's follow-up to raunchy improv comedy Douchebag, which debuted there the year before. Like Crazy won the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize, and breakout actress Felicity Jones (Julie Taymor's The Tempest), took home the Special Jury Prize.
Doremus still has not seen The Tempest; nor have a lot of other people, so when Like Crazy hits the fall fest circuit in its slightly-trimmed PG-13 form, including Toronto, and then opens October 28, folks will make a major discovery. UPDATED: Check out Paramount's poster and trailer (with upgraded sound) and my Monday phone interview with Doremus below.
Doremus says he cast Jones off an audition tape that she shot herself with a camera on a tripod from London of the film's final scene, in which she stands in a shower and runs through all the emotions of her entire (often long distance) relationship with First Big Love Anton Yelchin. Doremus cast her on the spot before either meeting her or seeing how she played off Yelchin. Luckily when she arrived in Los Angeles for rehearsal just one week before the three-week shoot (three in L.A., one in London), there was scorching chemistry.
The film's voyeuristic feel in the intimate scenes comes from Doremus's keeping his digital Canon 7 Digital SLR camera at a distance via long lenses. Shooting through the doorway, there's literally no one in the room but the actors. "I love the idea of peeking in some scene that you shouldn't be watching and watching anyway," he says. "It's about the experience of the feelings."
He'd shoot 30-minute takes, running through the scenes four or five times, not starting and stopping, making adjustments, keeping the camera rolling. "It's like an organic jazz odyssey," he says.
Inspired by Lars von Trier's "attention to detail in the performances," Doremus tries for the same "nuance and subtext," although he suspects von Trier is "more specific about what he's looking for." He's nicer to his actors than von Trier, though, who can be very manipulative. "It's upsetting to read about his tactics, which works for him," he admits. "I'm the opposite, I coddle my actors. I want them to feel as comfortable as possible."
While the writer-director supplies his actors with a 50-page treatment, it's not all dialogue and action--there's in-depth character motivation and background, co-written by Ben York Jones. The film was made for under $1 million in just nine months, so the Sundance sale alone put them in the black. Doremus is well under way on his untitled next, also starring Jones and funded by Indian Paintbrush, which co-stars Guy Pearce and Amy Ryan in an even darker and more thrilling relationship drama set in upstate New York. "As I get older I am becoming less funny," Doremus says. "I'm certainly more fascinated with drama. My films are going in that direction. You can't force filmmaking, it has to come to you organically. I'm just rolling with it, down this path."
Like Crazy synopsis is after the trailer:
A love story is both a physical and emotional tale, one that can be deeply personal and heartbreaking for an audience to experience. Director Drake Doremus’ film Like Crazy beautifully illustrates how your first real love is as thrilling and blissful as it is devastating. When a British college student (Felicity Jones) falls for her American classmate (Anton Yelchin) they embark on a passionate and life-changing journey only to be separated when she violates the terms of her visa. Like Crazy explores how a couple faces the real challenges of being together and of being apart. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Picture at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and of the Special Jury Prize for Best Actress for Felicity Jones, Like Crazy depicts both the hopefulness and the heartbreak of love.