Once upon a time two former college roommates, Katie Anne Nylon and Lauren Miller, sat down and wrote a script about two girls starting a phone sex line in their New York City apartment. The story was funny, sweet, romantic and actually an extremely touching tale of a friendship between two girls. All the studio heads agreed that it was a lovely story but no one had the balls to fund it. “Female-driven comedies? Who wants to watch those?” they would say. Lauren said in an earlier interview, “Everyone said, ‘Sorry. Love your script, but R-rated female comedies do not work. We were so frustrated.” But the girls never lost heart. They just wanted to make a movie that they wanted to watch and so they went about just making it themselves, independently of a studio. But then something amazing happened when the film Bridesmaids came out. People discovered that women AND MEN like to watch movies about women….wait for it….being funny. What?! The film made $288 million worldwide, earned two Academy Award nominations (including best original screenplay) and opened doors for a slew of female-centered comedic film and TV shows. Though Naylon and Miller wrote the film before Bridesmaids was in development, the film gave them more leverage to make their film, For A Good Time Call…(which opens tomorrow.) We were lucky enough to chat with these smart and funny ladies about their journey to get this film made.
Lauren: All of the above. When we sit down to write we are very much together, like touching arm hairs. Katie does end up doing most of the typing. It wasn’t like we sat down and said let’s write the tale of starting a phone sex line, we just sat down and three hours later this is what we had. It was about friendship and Katie’s real life experience [Naylon did run a phone sex line out of her dorm room at Florida State University where she lived with Lauren.]
Though the context of the film is about starting a phone sex line (and there is some titillating language), it is really the story of two former enemies who develop an amazing friendship and business. But the studios couldn’t get past the raunchy aspect of the film. According to Lauren, they had about 50 to 60 meetings with studios and no one wanted to make it. She said in the production notes for the film, “They told us that R-rated female comedies didn’t work. Bridesmaids hadn’t even been shot yet, but we knew about it, and we said, “No, no, you don’t know; there’s this movie Bridesmaids, it’s gonna happen.”
The Grindstone: Was it really discouraging when the studios were like we love the script but can’t make the film? Did you ever think this is just not going to happen?
Katie: No one wanted to make it. We didn’t set to out to do what Judd Apatow does for guys, but for girls. We just wanted to make the kind of movie we would want to watch.
Lauren: It was very frustrating! We pitched it as an idea to talent and management and everyone seemed to like it but no one would finance it. But that was what fueled the fire to make it on our own. We didn’t want this big studio film it turned out and it was nice to not have anyone looking over us. It was really liberating to do it ourselves. We were really at the helm of the ship.
In true entrepreneurial spirit Lauren and Katie decided to make the film themselves. Lauren’s brother, Daniel M. Miller, financed the film, and both Lauren and Katie came on as producers. Lauren also starred in the film along with Ari Graynor, who served as an executive producer as well. By make it with a smaller budget, a shorter time frame, an up-and-coming director (Jamie Travis) the girls secured creative control.