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MICHAEL: Actually we met and then Ryan invited me to another film he had done called The Dry Land, and I went to see it that night and the next night, and he was so wonderful in it and the DP Gavin Kelly who did Brooklyn Brothers also worked on that—and our producer Jason Berman also produced that—so you know, unwittingly I sort of met the family at that premiere, and that’s sort of how this film went: it was a family vibe, and everyone brought their warmest and most compassionate game to the table. And when I met Ryan he was so full of love for this project. When he sent me the script I was laughing out loud. It’s just such an original voice. We sat, we had a burger. What else happened Ry?
RYAN: I think something that we’re really fortunate to have is that we sort of made this collective group—and Mike is definitely a part of that family now without a doubt—but it’s a group of people that I’ve met from different films I’ve done. We actually just did a new one—same sound mixer, same producers, and you know, everyone gets a chance to do new things. Gavin our DP just directed this new project.
MICHAEL: It’s a really rare thing. You don’t get to work in that capacity very much. Ryan and I hit it off immediately and we had to, because we had 18 days to shoot. We had to learn all of this music; I had to learn all these baby instruments.
RYAN: He’s still learning them by the way.
MICHAEL: You have such little time, so when you can have a cohesive bunch of people who are all on the same page, going the same direction, and genuinely like working together and are bringing their A game even if they’re not making a lot of dough on stuff—the dough is not what defines the project, it’s the people involved and the passion involved and the sense of humor that I think took it from start to finish. That experience is really special and completely insane and chaotic. It’s like a crazy ride.
A large portion of the film is devoted to the choices we're forced to make as we get older and take on more responsibility. As artists who have made it in the industry, how was it to delve back into these characters who are pretty lost? Was it nostalgic at all?
MICHAEL: I don’t know. From my perspective, I look at Ryan and he just always looks lost to me. I’m looking at him right now and he looks like a homeless lost person that I need to help right now. And I am going to help him, because I have to drive him around because he recently arrived in LA without a car. Who does that?
RYAN: Are you kidding me? We just did a photo shoot... first of all, Mike is savagely color-blind. So he only wears three colors: blue, grey, and white. So he picked his white shirt today, and there’s a white backdrop.
MICHAEL: I had to use Ryan as my backdrop. That’s just called strategic man, that’s a veteran move. I feel like in this industry, which is so up and down, you’re constantly reassessing your life. As one project ends, you sort of by definition are looking for work again. There’s an instability to that, but there’s also a beauty to that in terms of the way it forces your perspective.
RYAN: Yeah, you’re constantly forced to redefine yourself, to a certain extent.
MICHAEL: Yeah, redefine yourself, but also appreciate exactly where you are now, and I think that there’s something about this movie that speaks to that. No matter what you have accomplished or haven’t accomplished—if you can pause for a second and take a look around, re-assess your life not from what you want to be or how you want to be but actually what you’re doing in the moment, who you’re surrounded with, the music you’re making, whatever. That’s where this movie really speaks to me in terms of the parallel life I lead as a writer, actor.
RYAN: I totally agree. Well said, bro. I’m really impressed because usually you’re horribly inarticulate.
MICHAEL: I have another person here feeding me lines.
RYAN: Also, the kind of DIY aspect of the music itself—you can kind of do anything, especially in this time period, with digital film and how the price point for making a film has dropped so significantly. If you have something to say, and you really wanna say it, there’s this opportunity to go make shit. And that’s what I love about Alex and Jim: they take these collective things they have and they make something, and they just hope for the best.
MICHAEL: I was just giving Ryan a compliment about that, which I don’t like to do. But he has that energy. He just says, fuck it, we’re going to go make this thing. And I think that’s contagious, and I really feel like this film embodies that spirit and at the same time it has spread into my life. I actually felt that this film empowers you to go out and do things. It gave me courage to go out and raise money for my film.
RYAN: Yeah, Mike just got funded for his film. It has Jason Ritter and Bryan Cranston; it’s a beautiful script.