What if someone offered you $2 million to watch you blow your old man? Would you do it? That’s the ridiculously hilarious premise behind the Sundance short film entry ‘A Reasonable Request’.
We talked to the short’s director, Andrew Laurich, and asked him about how a simple joke came (no pun intended) to be an award-winning film.
Tell us more about yourself.
“I’m a Detroit-born filmmaker living in LA. I’ve been directing commercials for the last six years, and am currently working on a handful of narrative/feature projects.
“I fancy a game of golf and a smokey scotch, but romanticise about the blue collar lifestyle. I love the outdoors and have a thirst for Indiana Jones-like exploration. Does that give a good overview?”
How did you come up with ‘A Reasonable Request’? What was the ‘A-ha!’ moment that led to the film’s concept?
“‘A Reasonable Request’ was the brain child of my co-writer, Gabriel Miller. He pitched me the idea of a hypothetical turned real. At first, I found it (much like the majority of the viewing audience) a bit repulsive. But then relished the challenge of taking something so absurd and grounding it in a very real world with relatable characters.”
Was it hard (no pun intended) writing a script for the short film, considering you’re touching (no pun intended again) on such a taboo topic?
“The writing was hard in the sense that it was difficult to manage the rising action and maintain tension, but we knew the tone from the outset. The goal was to write a character piece about an estranged father and son rather than a sketch comedy. We didn’t want to just play to the joke.”
What was the goal in creating this dark comedy? And how did you feel when it got into Sundance?
“Really, the idea was to write a drama about a funny premise. I think that’s where it slips into dark comedy. To make it feel grounded was our overarching mission.
“Sundance was a complete surprise. Honestly, I wasn’t sure it was a programmable film for any festival based on its content.
“So when we got the phone call, it was an authentic ‘holy shit’ moment. My Dad, who had understandably been very uncomfortable with the film from the start, was immediately like, ‘I’m coming!’ (to the festival).”
What’s your best advice to emerging filmmakers?
“Best advice for emerging filmmakers is to not shortchange the writing process. So often, we as filmmakers get caught up in the production process. But the truth is, it doesn’t really matter what camera you shoot your film on, or what lighting package you rent. If you don’t have a good story, you’re fighting an uphill battle.
“I think we spent six hours shooting our short and about two months writing it. That said, make sure you have good sound. I know a great sound guy if you need a reco.”