We spoke to Andrew Laurich, the director behind Sundance film 'A Reasonable Request'

On paper, the premise for this comedy set in the most American of American diners, would be one that you’d want to avoid at all costs. A seemingly hypothetical and outrageous request turns into an opportunity for our father and son to reconnect, albeit under unsavoury circumstances.

Check out our interview with filmmaker Andrew Laurich below.

Q: Firstly, just a brief introduction for those that may be new to your work such as your name, history and what you do?

AL: My name is Andrew Laurich and I’m a filmaholic. I’ve been directing commercials professionally for the last 6 years, and have since started in earnest on a more narrative career.

Q: A Reasonable Request made waves upon its release, did you anticipate a strong reaction considering the subject matter?

AL: We figured we at least had a salacious hook and figure that could work to our benefit. It was certainly tactical to release it the week ahead of Father’s Day.

Q: Stephen Ellis (the son) and John Ennis (the father), play their roles with fantastic poise and comedic timing, could you elaborate on the process of getting the best out of them?

AL: Broadly, I believe that if you cast the right actors — then getting the right performances is easy. More specifically, the goal was to get grounded / realistic performances. So the general note for both of them was to take everything off of it. Play it straight.

“Talent is important, but everybody’s talented in this industry. Not everybody works hard. Also, be nice. That’s huge. Don’t be a dick.”

Q: What were the challenges in building the script and bringing it to life?

AL: Gabriel Miller (co-writer) and I hashed out about 17 drafts before we landed on the final shooting script. Even then, we shot two different endings and finished both versions of the film. From a structural perspective, my goal was to create chapters of tension — which I think numbered about 8 in the film. At any given moment, there’s a specific tension nagging at the characters.

Q: How did you and your co-writer Gabriel Miller go about choosing the setting for A Reasonable Request? Could you expand on whether it was always situated in a diner or if there were other choices?

AL: Early on in the scripting process we had determined that the story should just be the conversation and that the iconic american diner played on some great cinematic tropes. Diners, in general, are very transient places — often lonely, which felt like the perfect setting for these characters.

Q: Going back to the success of the film – an official selection for the Sundance Film Festival. What was that experience like?

AL: Exactly as you’d imagine, but even better. There’s nothing like it. Beyond the festival, it’s a community that is much more inclusive than I ever imagined.

Q: Who are your filmic idols and why?

AL: I feel guilty saying this for some reason, but Steven Spielberg is tops. Nobody manages to juice as much out of a scene as that guy. I’m a big fan of Spike Jonze, as well. I think A Reasonable Request drew more on The Cohen Brothers, though, than anybody.

Q: You’re an actor as well as a director, writer and producer – what advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry and what’s the best advice you’ve received?

AL: Oh man, that’s a loaded question. In general, I think work begets work. The success stories I’m familiar with are stories of work and passion. Talent is important, but everybody’s talented in this industry. Not everybody works hard. Also, be nice. That’s huge. Don’t be a dick. It’s much harder to pull favors when nobody likes working with you. Best piece of advice I received... This is from an interview with Robert Rodriguez: “You’re a director when you say you’re a director.” That wisdom pairs well with the notion of just keep directing until someone pays you to do. That’s how I’ve modeled my career.

Q: What’s next for Andrew Laurich – are you working on anything at the moment that we should keep an eye out for?

AL: Gabriel Miller and I are working on a feature screenplay, as well as pitching a TV show. I’ve also been working on a non- profit called Kid Cinema. More info should be out on all of those soon.

Q: And lastly, a question we love to ask. If you weren’t a filmmaker, what career path would you have chosen and why?

AL: I would have LOVED to be a composer. My musical abilities are fairly shit, though. That said — I do a mean beat box.

Written and Edited by Regys Badi.

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