Without a doubt, Sybil Darrow has become the Jack Bauer of romantic comedies. Darrow and director/co-writer Dean Pollack set the engaging “Audrey” in real-time in a restaurant setting. The title character, played by Darrow, waits for Gene (Jonathan Chase) to arrive for their third date. Her beau appears to be late, however, but Murphy’s Law arrives right on schedule.
“It became a creative device that we found to be very powerful, to be in the sense of a real-time hour,” Pollack said when reached by phone for an interview. “That is a built set, a soundstage. That is not a location. We had an amazing production designer who built that from the ground up.”
With this “turn-on, turn-off” set, the cast and crew were able to hit the ground running and shoot, in Pollack’s words, a tremendous amount of pages quickly.
“We tried to stay in as much order as possible because of the arc of emotion that she was going through,” he explained. “We might shoot Sybil walking in a certain place in her mind emotionally and then sitting down in the chair. And then not doing the rest of what happens when she sits down until three days later.”
Maybe he’s just a jerk?
Ed Quinn (“Eureka”) is a wonderful actor, but in “Audrey,” he plays Pete, a former boyfriend who shows up at the restaurant with a new lady love. Pete can be charming, but it’s hard to suppress the urge to punch him in the face.
“He’s based on a real character,” Sybil Darrow explained, joining Pollack on the call. “I think people felt that way about the real character as well. It really typifies that one guy that every girl talks about among my girlfriends that crushed you. The sort of ‘stole your soul, crushed your soul’–as they said on ‘Sex and the City’–kind of guy who we all fall prey to once before we know better—and never go there again.”
“Audrey” actually started life as “Piece A’ Cake,” a short film written by Darrow and directed by Pollack.
“I sold my jewelry to make [it] a long time ago. Luckily, Dean wanted to direct it. We had worked before on another film together as an actor and director,” Darrow said. “It’s basically a woman staring at a piece of cake and imagining her life if she eats it.”
The director added that because the character in the short was on her third date, the story also deals with insecurity issues with men and dating: “She has to go, and she deals with all kinds of things. We took those small components, which we found were the things that connected with women.”
Help me, Obi-Juan Kenobi
Though “Audrey” focuses on the female point-of-view, her struggles resonate well with both men and women. Pete may act like a horse’s behind, but Donny, played by Ethan Phillips, thinks Audrey is something special—and tells her so.
“We all felt Audrey’s insecurities were universal and cross gender barriers. We also have a lot of male insecurities, Donny being the most particular. Though he’s outgoing, he’s very insecure. As he says, he’s a funny little guy and he usually doesn’t do this,” Pollack offered.
In the middle of this emotional chaos, a waiter named Juan (Luis Chávez) offers an oasis of calm. He understand Audrey even better than she does herself, offering gentle guidance and support.
“We’ve called him Obi-Juan Kenobi for a while,” Darrow said.
Darrow and Pollack will be available for a Q&A after the 2:40 p.m. screening at Laemmle’s Music Hall 3 in Los Angeles on Sunday, July 13. “Audrey” also will be available on VOD beginning July 15.