“[…] the production snowballed. It turned into a monster.”
The transatlantic diablog caught up with American film-maker Mike Lars White via e-mail to talk with him about his latest movie “Steve’s Problem.”
A short film inspired by the too-closeness of men’s urinals, as White says.
Why did you do a film about urinating?
Originally I wanted to make a series of 4-minute web sketches. So I had written about 20 different sketch ideas and started showing them around to friends. When it came down to picking the best ones and deciding what to shoot, my cinematographer said “Mike, why don’t you just focus on one film first.” So after another round of testing the sketch ideas on friends, I finally decided on this one idea called “Steve’s Problem,” simply because it got the most consistent laughs and seemed like the most unique. It was the only idea that had anything to do with urinating.
Then, when I went back to flesh out the script, “Steve’s Problem” suddenly turned into this sort of saga spanning a man’s whole life. I mean like a 20-minute long saga. That’s when we decided “oh, this is more like a festival film.” I held casting auditions, bringing in friends from the SF improv world mostly, and pretty soon the production snowballed. It turned into a monster.
Can you tell us some more about yourself and your career as a film-maker?
I worked for five years out of Warsaw, Poland as a writer for TV commercials. Since I’m American and wasn’t great in that language, my scripts had to be translated into Polish. So my style basically grew out of trying to make Polish art school graduates laugh. Later I came back to America for a copywriter job at Goodby Silverstein and Partners (the ad agency that came up with “Got Milk?”), and I started studying improv comedy and theater there in San Francisco, and going to lots of shows, absorbing.
My filmmaking experience mostly comes out of making TV commercials. The writer and art director act kind of like showrunners — we brief all the departments from wardrobe to casting, and then take on a director as hired gun, so we pretty much see the thing through from conception all the way to final cut.
Here’s “Steve’s Problem” for you. Watch it below.