I LOVE MY DAD Interview | James Morosini Talks Discomfort Comedy And Putting It All Out There

When given the opportunity to speak with James Morosini of I Love My Dad, we jumped at the chance to discuss this incredibly fun, empathetic film. Available in select theaters and on demand, check out the film, and come back here to see how it all came together, how Morosini was able to balance it so well as the writer/director/star, and some great stylistic choices.

 

Alex Papaioannou

So I guess we should start with the big question. You wrote, directed and starred in this film. And obviously, it's a true story. So I'm just curious, was making this cathartic in any way? How did it feel going into that first day of shooting?


James Morosini

I've always been a fan of movies where I can tell the filmmaker is really putting it all out there. So to have the opportunity to do that with this film meant a lot to me. And I definitely felt very exposed and vulnerable. That intent of, "How much of myself can I put on screen?" really energized me.


Papaioannou

So was there any hesitation going into it knowing that now audiences everywhere would be seeing your story?


Morosini

You know, I'm in this to really put my inner life into the film and take it out of me, expressing it as best as I can. So that's really how I see the job. It was definitely scary to do so, but it was also very exciting. It's part of the reason I do the job.


Papaioannou

This is a true story, but, it's a film where you may want to play certain elements up. How did you approach playing a semi fictionalized version of yourself?


Morosini

Franklin is definitely my anxiety and depression embodied, so it was just a matter of leaning into those sides of myself. I had to really adjust my perspective to that lens, which I actually know all too well, in how I was seeing the world, specifically in those terms. So it was less a fictional version of myself, and moreso just a very particular, maybe more regressed, version of who I am.

Papaioannou

That leads into one of the strengths of the film that I was really drawn to. It's obviously a very fun film, but it also approaches mental health in a very raw, important way that you don't really see super often. So I'm just curious, how did you get comfortable addressing it in that way? And what do you hope audiences gain from how you addressed it?


Morosini

Yeah, I hope audiences are able to participate in the destigmatization of anxiety and depression and these mental health questions. Mental health is something that we're all dealing with at every moment in our lives; It's just not as visible as our physical health. If anything, I would want audiences to walk away with greater empathy that we have no idea what somebody is experiencing internally, regardless of what things look like for them on the outside.


Papaioannou

If you had to describe this film in one word, it would be empathetic. You're writing your story, But you're also writing your dad's. When coming at it from that angle, did you weigh in with him at all while you were making this movie?


Morosini

So the story the movie is inspired by is this thing that happened to me a long time ago. And emotionally, the whole movie is true. But you know, Chuck is not my dad. The reality of who Chuck is is definitely a lot different, and I wanted to capture a certain perspective of his in this movie. So it was a lot of talking through things with my dad: Why he decided to create this profile and where his head was at that moment. It was all to really try and get a better understanding as to who he is and how he sees me as well. So it was really just us grappling with our relationship as a whole.


Papaioannou

Patton Oswalt plays Chuck, and he is fantastic in the film. I know he produced it as well, but was the role written with him in mind?

Morosini

Patton was definitely on my mind from a very early stage. He is one of the funniest people you'll ever meet, but he's also somebody that really cares about his work and about other people. So making this movie with him was quite a privilege, because he was able to elevate the material and just brought so much of himself to it.


Papaioannou

I know you said your dad enjoyed the film at the premiere. But I was curious on what the rest of your family thought?


Morosini

My whole family has seen the film at this point. And everyone really likes it. I think everyone is just very personally affected by it, so it really resonates with them. And I think we're all getting the same kind of mischievous excitement around what the story does. So you know, my family's in on the joke, so to speak.


Papaioannou

Were there any key films that you had in the back of your mind when making this in terms of inspiration?


Morosini

I've been inspired by the work of a lot of international filmmakers that make morality films or do this kind of discomfort comedy. People like Ruben Östlund. In his works Force Majeure, The Square, or even his earlier films. Also films from people like Michael Haneke, where he takes this formalistic approach and just puts his characters in situations. So it's all about the situation and he kind of stays out of the way directorially. And then there's an Iranian filmmaker, Asghar Farhadi, whose work is always centralized around a moral question or moral theme. He then explores it so much until it's nearly impossible to watch because of how relatable it becomes. He puts the audience's in these untenable, emotional, moral predicaments. I love his work.


Papaioannou

Another thing that I really loved about this is how it bridges the gap between digital and physical relationships. Becca, Francis, and Chuck have these conversations happen on a chat room, but you place them in the physical realm. So how did that come together when you were crafting the film?


Morosini

I knew I needed to physicalize Becca's appearances because I didn't want an audience to be looking at screens for an hour and a half. I wanted to explore what it feels like when you're messaging someone. It often feels like the person is right there with you, so I wanted to capture that. Plus, it also added this great irony and tension that I wanted to explore. We as an audience are used to watching romantic relationships on screen and rooting for it. Here, I wanted to get the audience behind this relationship that we were also very against, and that tension was really exciting for me to play with.


Papaioannou

Lastly, this film does a really good job of balancing between drama and comedy. With such a variety of different scenes within the film, is there any one in particular that you have a great memory from?


Morosini

Because a lot of the movie is intercutting between Becca, Franklin, and Chuck's reality, I had to do a lot of imaginative work to see how it was going to cut together. So a lot of those discoveries really came up in post, when I was able to finally see how those realities kind of cohered. It was moreso in the edit where I got that creative thrill where you could tell it was working in the way that I had intended.


Magnolia Pictures will release I LOVE MY DAD in theaters on August 5, 2022 and On Demand August 12, 2022.

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