published on Thursday, January 7, 2010 | 11:40 am|
Director Miguel Arteta is so impossibly picky and demanding, hell often fire himself from his own production.
That always irritates people, he says. I wrote a script just recently and Ellen Page and Emma Thompson wanted to do it; then I got a financier on board, but decided it wasnt the right time for the film, so I backed out. Im very picky, but I have to feel like my movie is going to connect with an audience, and at this moment, that movie is too serious.
The filmmaker behind such critical successes as The Good Girl and Chuck & Buck was even personally asked by Dave Eggers to direct the authors debut screenplay, Away We Go. Initially, Arteta agreed, but when the directors vision for the film became too complicated and expensive for producers, he chose to step away rather than compromise. Sam Mendes took over.
As of 2002, Artetas filmmaking credits include nothing more than a few TV episodes, a four-minute short called Are You The Favourite Person of Anybody? in which John C. Reilly asks Miranda July if shes anybodys favourite person and various projects classified as in production, ranging from a comedy starring Sigourney Weaver and Anne Heche to another Eggers-inspired film, You Shall Know Our Velocity!.
Actually, I just gave up on that one, too, Arteta says. I had some crazy ideas for how to do it, but they were too elaborate. I think theyre getting the director of Nick and Noras Infinite Playlist [Peter Sollett] to handle it.
However, somewhere amidst all the almost-but-not-quite filmmaking of the past decade, Arteta has managed to complete a film a very good film, called Youth In Revolt, which comes out this Friday. Based on the best-selling novel, it stars Michael Cera, who expectedly plays a nerdy virgin while also unexpectedly playing the nerdy virgins alter-ego, François, a Euro-skeezy jerk. Cera worked closely with Arteta, occasionally rewriting parts of the script and refining their shared vision.
When I heard that Michael loved the novel and was interested in being true to the book, it got my attention, says Arteta. Its so original, so funny the teenagers have an incredibly smart voice and all the adults are idiots. Usually I make films about people with lots of emotional damage, and theres certainly an emotional core to this film, too. But its probably been the most fun Ive ever had making a movie.
Part of what kept Arteta going with Youth In Revolt was the fact that author C.D. Payne was happy to let the director do whatever he wanted in adapting the 500-page book, apparently telling him, Good luck do what you can.
But it also helped that there was equal support from the producer, Bob Weinstein.
Bob is very passionate about everything he does, says Arteta. He contributed to both the script and the movie-making in a very direct and positive way, really pushing Michael and me, and getting the best out of us. Producers always push you you just have to hope they push you in the right direction.