It’s a big burden to carry.
People come up to me in person crying, thanking me. I was just trying to make a romantic comedy.
Regarding the story itself, there was no eureka moment for me. I just knew I had to make this movie about my life experiences. After graduating from film school, I knew I had a story to tell, and I knew I was going to die if I didn’t tell it.
In the beginning, page after page was crap. After three or four months, I got so depressed, I checked myself into the hospital and subjected myself to voluntary ECT treatments. ECT erases your short term memory.
After I got out of the hospital, a hint of the basic premise came to me. In the film, Ben goes to a hearing at school due to a misunderstanding related to his condition. While this event is fictional, it was loosely based on my experiences at various schools, which were traumatic for me. I wanted to take my life experiences of the last ten years and compress them into a 90-minute movie.
The film became more about Ben’s need to prove his innocence. He wanted validation for the discrimination he experienced and proved people wrong. At the same time, the film was a way to be self-sufficient, and the first time, I was working on a professional level.
“After three or four months, I got so depressed, I checked myself into the hospital…”
How did Eric Roberts and Rosie Perez come to the project?
Originally, Rosie’s role as Dr. Hollaway was a much smaller part. Because of the circumstances, and I looked at the role and the script, and I said, “But this does not look like a role for a star to play. I thought there’s no way.” Then I went and spent three months rewriting the script to give the psychiatrist a bigger, better role. It actually made the movie a lot stronger.
We made like a list of five women who would be amazing. Rosie Perez was at the top of the list. Basically, she loved the script and thought it was very authentic. She wanted to talk to me on the phone and wanted to see my latest work (a short film). I had this 15-minute phone call with her. I was really, really nervous.
She talked about her experiences with PTSD, and depression, and thought that the script felt very authentic. She liked that it was funny, even though her manager said it’s not a comedy. She asked me, “It’s a comedy, right?” I’m like, “Yeah.”