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Aaron Godfred's 'Little Blue Pill'
Today I'm speaking with the fresh, talented, passionate, funny, innovative Writer/Producer/Director Aaron Godfred about his new film Little Blue Pill (2010).
ME: Can you speak about your film Little Blue Pill? What is it about and can you tell us something about the characters?
AARON: Little Blue Pill is a satirical comedy about a day in the life of Steven Cohen, a twenty-something hipster who after a long night of partying accidentally takes two Erecta, an Erectile Dysfunction pill, having mistaken the pills for Aleve. Stephen, his well-intentioned roommate Oscar, and his old crush Lane, spend a wild day battling the side effects of the drug while trying to uncover the sinister motivations of the corrupt pharmaceutical manufacturer Phalitech fronted by the fanatical Dr. Yohan Von Luther. At first look, this may come across as the standard misadventure movie with a boner; but it's got so much more. We really went deep into the psyche of the male enhancement and erectile dysfunction pharmaceutical industry and parodied their television commercials, print ads, radio spots and more. Anyone who has ever seen an embarrassing television commercial with two seniors in side-by-side bathtubs knows what I mean.
ME: I love it! You guys really ‘went deep' into it. Awesome! I love the premise of this film. Even the pitch made me laugh! What inspired you to write and direct this film? It looks hilarious!
AARON: My favorite types of movies are comedies and action thrillers. Because raising 200+ million for a first time director didn't seem realistic, comedy seemed like the way to go. As a young man, my dream job was to sit around and come up with ideas. I quickly realized that unless you work for a think tank, this job doesn't really exist. Only after getting involved in filmmaking did I realize that writing and directing was my way to live this dream. I can invent anything as long as it fits into a ninety-minute movie. In a way, it's like playing God. I also have a background in marketing so it was a lot of fun to plan and execute a completely insane and un-PC marketing campaign from the ground up and work with some really talented designers. Also, a lot of the stuff in the movie is taken from various experiences in my life or random musings I had while walking around Beverly Hills during my lunch hour while working for the talent agency Endeavor. A few years back I produced a web commercial for an unbelievably cool-looking surgical training facility in the Seattle area, and the owner offered to let me shoot there if I ever had a need for such a location. With a multi-million dollar, high-tech medical facility in hand, I set about tailoring a story to it.
ME: Wow! I think sometimes the most creative ideas come when we have something to work with as a kickoff, like you did with the medical facility. Also, I love the idea that you guys are making a parody of pill-taking in the US where there is a pill for every situation and feeling. And of course the most famous is the‘Little Blue Pill'. Do you have any stories of how long this journey was? How did it eventually all come together?
AARON: I started writing Little Blue Pill, the short movie, in August of 2008. Eventually it became a 37 page short, which as anyone in the short world knows is about 20 pages too long. At the time I was working in the story department of WME, formerly Endeavor, and totally immersed in story for seven months. Before heading to Beverly Hills to read scripts and write coverage I would try to write for at least two hours every morning. After being rejected by my dream production company, National Lampoon, I decided I needed to quit my job when and produce the movie myself. The original plan consisted of me, my Panasonic HVX-200, and a crew of five, but it eventually ballooned into the independent behemoth that was Little Blue Pill. It was the first movie I had directed that had a production designer, or an art department for that matter. I had a script supervisor, a production manager and PA's, I mean PA's how cool is that, hell, we even had walkie talkies. Actually, it was a very well organized venture. I'm kind of OCD about organization and was fortunate to have exceptionally talented producers Dave Szamet and Alex Ginno and a local production manager Jake Rossman who between keeping Portland locked down found time to play an awesome prison guard. We cast all but one of our fantastic leads, Aaron Kuban, Adam Carr, Rosie Tisch, Gerold Wunstel and Trevor Coppola from LAcasting.com and I rehearsed with them multiple times in our LA production office, my grandma's living room, before heading up to Oregon.
ME: Wow! What an experience for your first feature. How long did it take to shoot?
AARON: We shot Little Blue Pill in 4 six-day weeks in July 2009 and had a rough cut done by the middle of August. Bringing our editor, the real MacGyver, Aussie Simon Carmody, and a quad-core Mac Pro with 14 GB of RAM up to Oregon was a great decision. After we returned to LA, Simon and I spent two months editing and then four months with composing, compositing, sound editing, ADR, graphics, online editing, color correcting and mixing. A lot of our crew including a producer came from the American Film Institute so we were able to test screen LBP in their theaters, which really helped to shape the final cut. I can't thank AFI enough for all of the talented students who decided they would rather production design, produce, gaff and edit a feature rather than intern at a studio or production company. Our kick-ass DP, Lucas Lee Graham graduated from AFI the year before but I still consider him an AFIer. Rumor has it that upon graduation they all get AFI tattooed on their bodies but I'm still trying to confirm this. All in all we shot this movie and posted it in ten months. No one wanted to see this movie linger in post so we just kept pushing to finish it. This is a first feature for most of the team and we really wanted to show the world and our investors that we could deliver a super funny movie in a timely manner.
ME: So, when can we expect the film to come out?
AARON: Last week we had the cast and crew screening at Raleigh Studios in Los Angeles and packed the Chaplin Theater's 160 seats. We had a surprising number of "Pill Heads," crew and cast make the trek from Portland and even one actor who took a 30 plus hour train ride from Seattle to be with us. If that's not love what is?
ME: This being your first film and having gone so well, I'm sure you have bunch of upcoming projects?
AARON: As we speak I'm producing a horror/sci-fi feature with a cult classic director whose name I cannot mention and an A-list actor whose name I also cannot mention. It's a whole different experience filming in Los Angeles. More rules, regulations and red tape. Also everything is just more expensive here as we're competing with the movie studios for diner locations and furniture blanket rentals. One upside is that any gear, crew or specialty filmmaking stuff you need is only a freeway away. We're nearing the halfway point in production and I'm sure this movie is going to make some serious waves when it hits the scene. I'm also currently writing what will most likely be my next film, a workplace comedy. I love taking big social issues and just making fun of them. We take ourselves really seriously and it's therapeutic to bring these issues to light and have a good laugh. I'm planning on shooting this one in the Pacific Northwest as well but with a much bigger budget. I really look forward to working again with many of the talented filmmakers and thespians from Little Blue Pill.
ME: Is there anything else you'd like to say to readers and other filmmakers out there about your next projects or about being an indie filmmaker today in Hollywood?
AARON: Since you gave me the soapbox I'm going to mention that I'm currently looking for representation. This movie was an amazing experience and I really want to continue making films. If any agents or managers want to rep the next big comedy director tell them to give me a ring. The one thing I can promise is that I'm going to keep making films. I always give the advice to newcomers to LA and the world of aspiring professional filmmaking to just keep making movies no matter what and try to make every single aspect of your movie better than the last. Considering the last narrative I directed was a two-minute, two person short I'd say I'm living my advice. I'm really looking forward to applying everything I learned from making Little Blue Pill to my next film. Lastly, if you want to screen Little Blue Pill at your festival give me a call. I'm happy to get it out there no matter how big or small your festival is.
Thanks for speaking with me Vanessa. All the best, Aaron Godfred
ME: Thank you, Aaron. Can't wait to see your work and to have you back to talk about your next film soon! We'll be following you. Everyone, look out for The Little Blue Pill by Aaron Godfred! :-)
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