Howard Goldberg has returned to the director's chair for his new film Jake Squared: a movie that saw him team up with actor Elias Koteas.
We caught up with Goldberg to chat about the movie, the challenges he faced while making this movie and what lies ahead.
- Jake Squared is your new film, so can you tell me a little bit about it?
Jake Squared is a mind-bending comedy about a guy whose problems compound exponentially when younger versions of himself invade his life and try to solve his romantic problems.
- You have penned the screenplay as well as being in the director's chair so where did the idea for the story come from? And how many time did the story and characters change from the initial idea to the final film?
It’s kind of hard to say where the idea came from. It really just grew organically -- as if I planted a small seed and then just tried to organize, prune and nurture as it spread its branches all over the place.
- Can you talk a bit about your writing process? Do you start with a character? Or do you plot out the story first?
Every script that I’ve written has been a different process entirely. Some jut emerge full-blown in your head and you just start writing. Some are excruciatingly difficult and take endless work and agonizing over until they’ve been gotten right.
The only thing that thewriting process for each one has in common with each other is that, when your done, they all start at point A and end at point Z. How you make that journey is always different and unknown when you start.
- Jake Squared is your first feature film since Eden back in 1998, so what has taken you so long to get back in the director's chair?
Money, money, money. Feature filmmaking is very expensive. In that period of time I wrote ten screenplays, almost all of them sold and none of them made.
That’s why I decided this time to write and make a film that I could have total control over and not have to worry about whether I had permission from some financier/studio/distributor/etc. to go ahead. If I had to shoot it with my home video camera, I was going to make this film.
- So how did you find getting back into the director's chair? And what challenges did you face making a movie with quite a complex storyline?
I love directing. I love working with the crew. I love working with the actors. It was a delight. I guess I just love telling people what to do! At least, that’s what my kids say. ?
Working with such a complex plot was hard. Not just for me, but especially for the script supervisor, whose job it is to keep track of continuity. We were shooting two cameras simultaneously with a script that was completely non-linear.
A scene could start in the daylight and end somehow magically having become nighttime. She was very frustrated and very overworked. But, she did it and I couldn’t have done it without her.
- Elias Koteas takes on the central character of Jake Klein so what were you looking for when you were casting this pivotal role?
I was looking for Elias! Specifically. A magnificent actor who had the skill and talent to play himself at 4 different stages of his own life, all of them interacting with each other and make it believable and still keep humor in it as well.
- Elias gives a great central performance that sees him tackle a series of different versions of the same character. So how did you find working with him? And how collaborative a process was it as you were working out the many sides to Jake?
Elias, as I said before, is a magnificent actor and working with him was a dream. He literally became the character and each incarnation of him.
Each one of the Jakes is Jake, but each one of them is also slightly different. That’s a testament to his genius. In the scenes where they’re all together and talking toweach other, one would never even know that it’s not really taking place.
We collaborated extensively. Endless talk and analysis of character and motivation. We became very close as a result of this film.
- Jennifer Jason Leigh, Virginia Madsen and Jane Seymour are just some of the other names on the cast list, so can you talk a bit about the casting process?
Most actors would give their eye teeth for an opportunity to work with Elias. His reputation in the business is that great. So, when he came on board, the rest of them were not far behind.
- The movie screen at the Raindance Festival in London, so how have you found the response to the film so far?
The response has been great. I couldn’t be more pleased. The audiences really liked it and most of the reviews we received were raves.
There were a few that were a bit equivocal ad one that downright didn’t like it. But, the raves make up for those in spades!
- We are always hearing about how difficult it is to get a film financed an off the ground here in the UK? So are there the same issues in the U.S.? And how challenging was it getting this movie off the ground?
There are few things that are more difficult in the world than getting a film made. I’ve never worked in the UK, but I can’t imagine it’s any different thatn it is in the U.S. Difficult! Always difficult.
Fortunately, this one went a lot easier than most. It was torture to put together, but a lot less torture than usually.
- The end of 2013 is drawing near so are there any movies that you have been particularly enjoying this year?
I just saw Rush and enjoyed that. I loved Blue Jasmine. This is the End. The Place Beyond the Pines.
- Finally what is next for you?
I’m working on a new screenplay that I hope to finish soon and make soon. Shhhh... can’t say anything more about it --- other than it’ll be even more odd, obscure and complicated than Jake Squared! Maybe...