The Q&A before the Q&A: A Talk with NYU-Alum Janicza Bravo, Writer/Director of Gregory Go Boom

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Writer/Director of Gregory Go Boom and Special Guest for Fusion’s Opening Night – Thurs. March 6th

Janicza Bravo’s new short Gregory Go Boom is the freshest and most intriguing short out there this season (already having swept up the Grand Jury Prize for Narrative Short at Sundance). With laughs, and heart, and killer form the film goes beyond the boundaries of the newly emerging dry, dead-pan comedy genre of our generation and captures perhaps the best performance of Michael Cera’s career thus far. Recently, I had a chance to pick the brain of the woman behind the film and get to know a little bit more about Janicza’s inspiration and perspective as a writer and director – though, of course she we still have many more questions in store for her in person after screening Gregory Go Boom in the Cantor Film Center this Thursday at 7pm.

What was your inspiration for the story of Gregory Go Boom?

A couple of years ago I was out to dinner with my boyfriend and his uncle. Next to us was a paraplegic man. He seemed preoccupied, distracted. He was waiting for something; for someone. There was an air about him that totally grabbed my attention. In walks this woman. Blonde and very beautiful. It was clear by the look on her face that they’d been set up. She looked at him in this way that is very hard to explain. It was devastating. I didn’t see the look on his face because I couldn’t bare it. He must have been crestfallen… The film is born out of that look. The way that must have made him feel so small. The film is about being dismissed because of limitation.

What was it like getting the film made, gaining support, and building a team? Did you work with your connections from NYU in any way?

The film came together pretty fast. It had its challenges like all work does. It was produced by JASH. Jash is a comedy collective that puts out comedy content curated by Michael Cera, Sarah Silverman, Tim and Eric and Reggie Watts. My producing partner, Brett Gelman, and I pitched a few ideas and they loved Gregory most. We were a small team with a small budget so there was very little room for ego. The 2nd and 3rd dates that Gregory goes on are with Mireya Lucio and Anna Rose Hopkins who are old pals from NYU.

How did your background as a Tisch drama major guide you in this project? Do you think it gave you a unique approach to characters, story, etc. than a film background would? 

I am deeply grateful for my theatre background. It influences all of my choices from framing to blocking to casting. I tend to grain towards wide shots and long takes with very little coverage. I like scenes to play out and breathe which is definitely a result of my days back at Playwright Horizons. There are no cutaways in theatre. Sometimes I wish I knew what everything on a film set was called but ultimately that’s not the kind of filmmaker I am. I am not a technical person.

How would you describe what it is like being a female filmmaker in this time?

It’s a very thrilling time. It’s nice to be among a strong crop of women. That said the conversation of being a woman filmmaker for me is not one that is devoid of race. The industry is a very male and very white. That’s a fact. It’s a fact that I use to let affect me. I felt if there wasn’t someone like me already then it meant there would never be anyone like me.

I can’t put into words how exciting it is that something I directed is playing at NYU. I really cherished my time there. I’ve dreamt about playing my work Cantor and directing one of the main stages. So this is truly very awesome.

Interview by Danielle Massie