g The Film Panel Notetaker: "Skills Like This" - Sneak Preview Screening - March 13, 2009

Saturday, March 14, 2009

"Skills Like This" - Sneak Preview Screening - March 13, 2009

Skills Like This
Sneak Preview Screening
92Y Tribeca
New York, NY
March 13, 2009

Monty Miranda’s Skills Like This, which won the Audience Award at 2007’s South by Southwest Film Festival, is being released theatrically in New York on March 20 at Angelika Film Center through Shadow Distribution. Skills Like This is a comedy shot entirely on location in and around Denver, Colorado, about 25-year-old Max who realizes his dream of becoming a writer will never come true. Maybe Max should have attended IFP’s Script to Screen Conference last weekend instead of resorting to his newfound pastime of crime…well maybe not, or there wouldn’t be a funny movie for me to go see. Last night, I attended a sneak preview screening at 92Y Tribeca where the film’s star and screenwriter, Forest Hills, Queens, native (got to give props to my borough) Spencer Berger, spoke during a Q&A with the audience moderated by Steve Ramos.

Ramos started by saying that a lot of writers write about what they know, but being that Berger hails from Queens and the film is set and shot in Colorado, Ramos asked Berger if the story was inspired by something he may have discovered or learned. “I haven’t robbed any banks,” Berger quipped. The things closest to him in the film are the relationships between his character Max and his friends.

At Vassar, where Berger attended college, was he more classically trained as opposed to comedy, the harder of the two? Apparently not. Berger said most of the acting he did at Vassar was sketch comedy. He wasn’t a member of the drama department, but actually was a music major. So how would he describe Skills Like This? Berger called it a comedy where the main character is convinced that he’s in a drama. “Basically, I’m pretty sure that Max thinks that he’s in the fifth act of Hamlet the whole time, while everybody else is in some sort of whacky bizarro world,” he said.

At SXSW in 2007 where Skills Like This won the audience award, the film didn’t get picked up for distribution right away. It would be another two years before its release. Why did the process take so long, Ramos asked? Berger said he’s stopped complaining about it, because he’s just happy that they got to even make it in the first place and now it is finally coming out. At SXSW, they felt good about the film’s win and thought it would be a piece of cake from that point on, but the next year was really torture. “Nobody passed on it, but basically one after another, some bizarre event would occur where a distributor would get interested and someone who was in charge higher up would get replaced and the deal would fall through,” he said. They finally got their distribution deal a little over a year around May of 2008, and they still had to wait another 10 months till now before it's finally hitting theaters on March 20.

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