Interview with Max Talisman of the movie “Things Like This” by Suzanne 4/13/21
It was so nice to speak with Max. He has a lot of energy and enthusiasm. I think he’ll do great things!
Suzanne: So, what’s your film about?
Max: So, the film is about two guys with the same name, who fall in love. Basically, what I’ve noticed is that every movie that has to do with gay characters is all about the coming out part of a gay life, but there’s so much that happens after that. So, that’s literally just the beginning of a gay person’s life as someone in the community. I just noticed that there were no movies like that, so I was like, “I have to write this. This is what I have to write. I have to write a movie about two men who fall in love where coming out just isn’t part of the story. It’s already happened.”
Suzanne: So, they’re in their twenties, basically?
Max: Yeah, they’re in their mid-twenties, and they’re just experiencing love and all the fears that come with falling in love.
Suzanne: Okay, actually, that makes me think of another question. Had there been any movies about gay people in college?
Max: I don’t think there have been. I think there have been a lot of – I mean, not a lot. There’s still not a lot of content for, you know, queer people. There’ve been movies about high school, with people coming out in high school. I can’t think of any gay people in college, especially not ones that have to do with post coming out.
Suzanne: Right. Well, there’s your next movie.
Suzanne: So, what made you want to become a writer and director?
Max: I think it was just the past led me here. I’ve been a performer since I was very, very young, and a few years back I noticed that there weren’t a lot of roles for someone with my body type – I’m a plus size actor – and especially not the type of roles that I felt like I should be playing or I should be auditioning for. So, I decided that I should be writing them. I’m lucky that I have the ability to write, and I just decided to start writing the roles that I wanted to be playing.
Suzanne: Okay. And had you done any shorter films before this or been been involved in film class? Anything like that?
Max: No. I mean, I’ve been an actor, obviously, on multiple sets, TV and film, and I’ve learned while I’ve been there. Basically, the truth is that this movie is about telling the story of these two people falling in love. It’s not a technical film. It’s really about the story and the connection between these two people. So, I just I felt, after interviewing multiple directors and going through that, I just didn’t find someone who was able to tell the story in the same way that I knew I could.
Suzanne: Okay, so you did interview other directors. Did you shadow anyone or anything like that?
Max: No, I didn’t shadow anyone. I did interview other directors, but just like I said, at the end of the day, it felt like I needed to be the person to tell the story.
Suzanne: Okay. And did did you learn a lot about directing while you were actually doing your movie?
Max: So we haven’t – we’re filming in the fall.
Suzanne: Oh, you’re not filming yet?
Max: We’re filming this fall. We’re filming in September and October. So, I haven’t learned that much about filming yet through the film, because we haven’t done it yet, but I’m I’m ready to learn, and I’m open to everything.
Suzanne: Okay, and so what was your preparation for writing the film? Did you just sit down and write? Did you have an outline? What did you do?
Max: I’m someone who very much lets the story lead me wherever it feels like it needs to go. So, I didn’t have an outline. I just sat down, and it led me where it needed to. So, I wrote the first draft within a week, and the plot has stayed the same. Obviously, it’s been through hundreds and hundreds of edits since then, but the plot has remained the same since the first draft, and, yeah, I wrote the first draft within a week, and from there, it’s just became the film that it is now.
Suzanne: Wow, that’s great. That’s working fast too.
Max: One hundred percent.
Suzanne: And had you done a lot of writing before, like, in school or just for fun or –
Max: So, I’d written a television show, and I filmed a pilot. This was the first feature that I ever wrote, and just like I said, it kind of just, you know, flowed out of me. So, as soon as I started writing, it just felt unstoppable that I had to get it down.
Suzanne: You have some great veteran TV and movie actors. Tell us about all the casting that you went through.
Max: We have an insane cast. It’s pretty amazing. It’s pretty unreal. I mean, we have multiple Academy Award nominee Ryan Kinnon. She’s the first female to be nominated both in front and behind the camera. She’s an icon in every sense of the word, and Eric Roberts, who’s an Academy Award nominee, and is an icon himself. We have T-Boz, who’s one of the most famous musical artists of all time. I mean, it’s just, this cast is unbelievable, and it’s so exciting to get to work with these absolute supernovas. So, I’m just beside myself. We really just got lucky during COVID, because people were able to read things, which is, you know, a side part of this horrible, horrible thing that we’ve been going through, but we have been able to get scripts to people, and they’ve been able to take a look at it in a way that they weren’t before. So, that’s definitely changed. It’s made us able to cast this movie with people like Jasmin Savoy Brown, who’s been a friend of mine for a while, but because of her having time to read the script, now she’s a part of this feature. And she’s so excited to make it, and I’m so excited to meet with her. And Charlie Tahan, who’s from Ozark, he was in Super Dark Times with me, and we’ve been friends since, and he was the first person I went to with the script, and he’s so excited to make this film. So, it’s just been a journey. I’m creating this incredible cast, like, with Terry Moore, who’s one of the last living stars of a Hollywood Golden Age. And Willem, who’s one of the most famous [unintelligible] in this entire world, like we are just beside ourselves with this cast. It’s unreal.
Suzanne: Yeah, it’s a really great cast. So, what else was involved in getting your film made? I mean, I know you haven’t shot it yet, but tell us about how you got started and all that. Financing and whatever else you had to do?
Max: Yeah, well, actually it’s been extremely intense. Definitely getting it to the right people has been a journey. Getting it to people who believe in making a queer film, it’s intense. And it hasn’t been the easiest process, but it’s also been a process that now we’re working with the people we trust to make this film, and to make it right, and that’s definitely been lucky in the end. You know that what you want is to make the movie with the people who want to make it for exactly the kind of feature it is, but it’s definitely been a journey of getting in front of a lot of different people, and editing it and getting it in front of more people, but that’s kind of what it’s been like.
Suzanne: That’s great. So, your shooting in the fall, and how long do you think shooting will take?
Max: Yeah, so we’re planning for a twenty-eight day shoot. We’re planning for a twenty-eight day shoot, and we’re just really excited. We’ll be shooting in up in Canada, and we’re thrilled with everything that’s going on. So, yeah.
Suzanne: And is there anything else you want to tell us about the film?
Max: Just that I’m so excited to get it to everyone. It’s been a journey, like I said, to get this thing made, but now that we’re here ready to film, in pre-production, I’m just so thrilled, and I’m so happy. I think this is exactly the movie that people will want to see and need to see, just because love is universal, and the people falling in love are universal. And I’m just so thrilled to be able to tell this story with the cast and the team that we’ve built.
Suzanne: Okay, and who would you say are your influences as far as writing and directing?
Max: I mean, I think I take influence from a lot of different things I watched, definitely. I mean, I’ve been hugely influenced by the comedy of Tina Fey in 30 Rock, for sure. I mean, I watched that show so many times, and I definitely, in a lot of ways, write with her comedic beats. I read once that someone said, like, “It isn’t cliche,” I think it was Mindy Kaling said that it isn’t cliche to say that Tina Fey’s the influence for everyone, because there’s a reason that she is, and I agree with that. She’s so talented. She’s so gifted in comedy, and I’ve definitely been taking from her, like not taking from her, but being influenced by her and her writing. Then, there’re so many other filmmakers who I definitely have been influenced by, and I’ve been allowing myself through the last few years to be more influenced by it. Definitely Judd Apatow’s done a lot of work that has influenced me, especially Trainwreck by Amy Schumer, that has had a huge impact on me, and Bridesmaids, Kristen Wigg, that’s definitely influenced me. So, yeah, I’ve definitely been watching things, and I’ve been soaking them up as much as possible.
Suzanne: Great, and so you mentioned mostly comedy people, so would you say that your movie is funny?
Max: Oh, yeah. It’s a romantic comedy with a big emphasis on the comedy part. Yeah, definitely. I hope it’s funny, and yes it is, but, I mean, that’s for other people to decide, but it was written as a comedy.
Suzanne: Great. And what about directing? Are there particular directors that you admire that you think you should be like, besides Judd Apatow?
Max: Yeah, you know, it’s tough to like, rattle people off right away. I’m trying to think of specific people, but it’s just I watch a lot of romantic comedies these days, especially my favorite ones. I mean, obviously, Rob Reiner is a huge one, and I mean, I’m getting to work with his children. Jake Reiner, and Robby Reiner are both in this feature, and Jake is executive producing it as well. So, that’s a huge thing to be, you know, he’s really the father of modern romantic comedy, Rob Reiner. Obviously, he’s influenced me. When Harry Met Sally, Princess Bride, and now to be able to work with his kids and be able to create something for the new generation with them, I mean, that’s thrilling.
Suzanne: Cool. I didn’t mean to put you on the spot trying to find names.
Max: No worries.
Suzanne: So, it’s probably a little early to ask you this, but do you have other projects that you’re thinking about for the future that you’re working on?
Max: Yeah, so, actually, already we’re working through my my next feature, which is called Don’t Kiss a Werewolf Boy, and it’s an LGBTQI horror comedy, and I’m really, really excited to dive into that one, [unintelligible] because it’s very different from things like this. Obviously, it’s a horror comedy, but it’s genre bending. It has a lot of different influences, too, but that one’s super, super exciting.
Suzanne: Is there gonna like some spoofing of things like Teen Wolf and I Was a Teenage Werewolf and things like that?
Max: It’s not a spoof at all. It takes influences, but it’s really its own story. It doesn’t have to do with those.
Suzanne: Okay, anything else?
Max: No, with Werewolf, we’re in the very beginnings of casting it, getting it ready, and I’ll be filming it once we wrap things like this.
Suzanne: Cool. So, you’ve already written it.
Max: Oh, yeah. Yeah, it’s been written years ago.
Suzanne: Okay. Who would you cast if you had had your pick of people?
Max: I’m not sure I can say that, because we’re literally in the process of casting people right now. So, I don’t want to jump the gun, but definitely we are talking to some people who I’m very excited about.
Suzanne: Cool. Cool. I think the first – I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it. Did you ever see the old An American Werewolf in London?
Max: I have seen it. Yes.
Suzanne: Yeah, I think that was the first werewolf movie that was actually, you know, good and had good special effects and makeup and that kind of thing.
Max: One hundred percent.
Suzanne: Yeah. Well, cool. I look forward to seeing both of them.
Max: Thank you. Thank you so much.
Here is the audio version of it.
Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com
Photos by Bonnie Nichoalds
Proofread and Edited by Brenda