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Monday, October 5, 2015

My Favorite Martin: Interview With "My Favorite Movie" Writer/Director/Star Martin Rogers

Watching the wonderfully quirky indie comedy "My Favorite Movie" for a September 2015 review prompted a strong desire to interview writer/director/star/current third-year law student (in other words, he litigates but what he really wants to do is direct) Martin Rogers. Speaking with Rogers over the telephone prompted a desire to fly out to Montana to try to win his baked-potato eating champion title.

A Portrait of the Young Man as a Filmmaker

The way cool exposure of Rogers to film making came when he was in elementary school. His father having a small role in the 1992 Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman drama "Far and Away" allowed Rogers to visit the Billings, Montana set of that film. That experience showed Rogers that film making was his calling.

Rogers added that growing up in a town of 400 people provided him an opportunity to do theater that he likely would have been denied in a larger community. 

Rogers additionally shared that the transition of "Favorite" from an inspiration during his freshman year of college to a screenplay occurred while taking a break from his college studies. He explained that his poverty while living in frigid Fargo, North Dakota prevented returning home to Montana for Christmas that year and also prompted being a lab rat for a study of a proposed anti-fungal cream. (Rogers joked that he considered his role in the cream never reaching store shelves a public service.)

The proverbial rest of the story was that the study required that Rogers stay awake for 18 hours; he explained that he used that time to write the "Favorite" screenplay. (Lovers of art-house films should consider that accomplishment the second public service that Rogers performed during that period.) 

The next step was Rogers and future "Favorite" co-star/prior high school buddy Bryan Ferriter convincing their bud Isaac Marble to discontinue his business studies at a top-ranked university to help make the film a reality. The additional job of Ferriter was to "rally the troops" that making the movie required.

First-time director Rogers also told the amusing story of spending the two weeks before the grueling 18-day shooting schedule reading books on directing films only to freeze at the literal outset of the filming. A veteran actor in the cast unobtrusively pulling Rogers aside and getting him started provided a happy ending to this promising beginning of Dream Team Cinema.

Rogers shared that his next lesson came in the form of the importance of keeping the number of shooting locations feasible; In a true it is funny when it happens to the other guy, Rogers discussed scrambling to the different locations. 

The next lessons occurred during the five-year post-production period. Studies and limited funds prolonged this period, and Roger stated that he felt tremendous relief on getting a DVD of the film in the mail.

"Montana" v. "Jersey" Films

The well-produced independent film quality, friendly anti-establishment theme, and population of slackers, suburban ninjas, and assorted freaks, oddballs, and psychos in "Favorite" screamed for asking Rogers the extent to which the '90s Kevin Smith cult classic "Clerks" influenced his film. Rogers responded that "'Clerks' was inspirational in my life" and that he was "sure I channeled 'Clerks'" in making his movie but that he did not base the former on the latter.

The element of "Favorite" regarding the son of central character/McJob holder Dave making the videotape of how Dave (wonderfully played by an adorkable Ferriter) met the mother of said son a hit among his friends did its own screaming regarding the proverbial long-running sitcom "How I Met Your Mother." Rogers replied that he loved the show but that his coming up with the idea for the film while a high school freshman predated the premiere of that series.

As an aside, Rogers pulled off the narrative technique better than the "Mother" filmers. Watching the tale of the courtship of Dave and the McDucks girl becoming a school-wide obsession was much more dynamic than watching two sullen teens on a couch listening to their father endlessly drone on about his search for "the one."

Mr. Rogers New Neighborhood

Rogers also shared that he had outlines of three or four screenplays that were ready for development as soon as he paid the "Favorite" bills. His resume in the form of that film showed that he was not bragging regarding confidence that that former high school and college athlete could "knock it out of the park" regarding those undeveloped comedies.

A bit of prying got Rogers to divulge that one potential film was a mockumentary roughly based on the experience that he and literal/figurative crew had driving a purple van from Montana to Los Angeles to market "Favorite" at the American Film Market. The second idea revolved around a group that had visions of stardom when starting a film company in the '70s but currently were struggling to get by.

The third shared idea was a departure from the equally promising ideas described above. That one was a darker comedy that had Ferriter starring as a man whose downfall required taking a job at a not-so-great carnival. The themes of that one included wanting to portray the lives of carnies.

Favorite Hopes

The quality of his work and his exceptional likability makes one hope that Rogers hits it so big that he no longer will grant Unreal TV an interview. Good luck, Dude.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding Rogers is welcome to either email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.