In 2005, Austin Film Festival world-premiered a brilliant short THE BRAGGART by filmmaker David Andalman (which you can see in its entirety here: https://vimeo.com/22129360). Now, seven years later we are excited to host the Texas premiere of AMERICAN MILKSHAKE, a film he wrote, directed and produced with Mariko Munro and which premiered at Sundance this last year. David and Mariko just landed in Cannes with their AMERICAN MILKSHAKE foreign sales agent, and preparing for the Producer’s Network to pitch their next project. They took some time out of their busy schedule to answer a few questions from Director of Programming Bears Fonté about their debut feature.
AFF : Where did the inspiration for AMERICAN MILKSHAKE come from, and was there anything that came to you right away that ended up virtually untouched in the final version?
AMERICAN MILKSHAKE was inspired by our collective youth – Mariko and I that is. That time in childhood when it first dawns on you that race, sex, and class play a big role in your life – in the cards you’re dealt. And you’re first starting to realize life’s not fair. It can create rifts in friendships and between children and parents, and in relationships.
AFF: This is a dark, dark comedy. Were you ever worried about going too far? How did you give yourself the courage to carry on?
The beauty of indie is that you don’t have to play by the usual Hollywood rules. We weren’t so worried about going too far, but we did want to be very careful to accurately portray the characters. Nothing is dark just to be dark.
AFF: Every writing partnership works differently. How did you two collaborate on American Milkshake?
In this instance David wrote the first draft, and from then on out we poured over the script together, re-shaping, rewriting, punching up jokes, etc. Really working side by side at the keyboard. On the next project LIBBY AT THE DOOR – a New York Club comedy, Mariko is writing the first draft, and bouncing the pages off David along the way for feedback. In the second pass we’ll probably sit down side by side again.
AFF: Were there ever moments where you two as the ‘director’ were a little frustrated with you two as ‘the writers?’
It’s always a process. There’s always room for improvement in rehearsal and shooting. But in comedy, when the writing is very tight and particular it almost always works best if actors stick to the page. We were very happy with the script.
AFF: Our film competition accepts entries until July 15th. As a veteran of the film festival circuit, what advice can you give filmmakers about getting the most out of their festival experiences?
Have a good time. Meet people you want to work with in the future, and enjoy learning from others who have gone through it. It’s all a blast.
AMERICAN MILKSHAKE plays Monday, May 20th at 7 pm in the Texas Spirit Theater at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.