One of the great things about the Tribeca Film Festival is that most of the movies in the lineup aren’t bloated studio blockbusters with millions of dollars of marketing budget to burn (tough break, Michael Bay). They’re smaller independent films that rely on word of mouth and dedicated tub-thumping stars to get the buzz going, which ultimately results in cool events where said tub-thumping stars mingle with the public and promote the everliving crap out of their movie.
That’s exactly what happened at the Apple Store in SoHo last night, as recognizable actors Oliver Platt (A Time to Kill), Rebecca Hall (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Thomas Ian Nicholas (American Pie) and acclaimed writer-director Nicole Holofcener (Friends With Money) gathered to chat about their new flick, Please Give, as part of TFF’s “Meet the Filmmakers” series.
Please Give, which has its New York premiere tonight (check out the TFF site for tickets), follows married couple Alex and Kate (Platt and Catherine Keener), who plan to add on to their Greenwich Village apartment by gutting the neighboring unit once its crotchety old inhabitant Andra (Ann Guilbert) kicks the bucket. Things get complicated (don’t they always?) when Kate and Alex attempt to assuage their guilt by striking up a friendship with the old woman and her granddaughters (Hall and Amanda Peet). Hilarity, drama and plenty of awkwardness ensues.
There was plenty of hilarity and a bit of awkwardness (but thankfully no drama) at last night’s Apple Store discussion with the stars and director. Mostly, Platt, Hall and Nicholas praised Holofcener for her writing, which the actors universally agreed was what drew them to the film.
Hall drew laughs when, in her proper British accent, she recounted how Holofcener told her to lop of her long hair and wear only denim-on-denim ensembles for the role because she was too “glamorous.” As Hall subsequently revealed, the script called for her character to be “fat and spotty,” which is apparently British for “fat and pimply.”
While Hall does appear a bit dowdy in the film, she’s still alluring enough to catch the eye of a young suitor, played by Thomas Ian Nicholas. Nicholas, who is best known as the guy who dated Tara Reid and introduced Steve Stiffler to “pale ale” in the original American Pie, drove home the point he’s not as short as he appears in the movie. He laughingly told the audience that Hall “stood on an apple box” for their scenes together, and then implored Holofcener to back him up (which she did). We were just happy to know that Hall isn’t the size of a yeti.
The discussion finished up with an audience Q&A period, during which Holofcener fielded most of the queries, genially giving advice on how amateurs might get their short films and screenplays produced. Ultimately, she said, it comes down to a piece of wisdom passed on to her by indie auteur Jim Jarmusch: “Never give up.” And, on that note, the Q&A ended before we got the chance to grill Nicholas about the purported American Pie 4. (The original cast reunited: good thing or bad thing? Debate!) We did, however, almost get knocked down the Apple Store staircase by Platt, who was seemingly entranced by the iPad display for which he was making a beeline. Guess that’s what they call a brush with fame?