Interview with Gil Cates Jr.

Gil Cates Jr. is the director of the film “Lucky”, which stars Colin Hanks and Ari Graynor. The film is set for release on July 15th. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Gil about working on the film and what he has planned next.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you come up with the idea for the film with Kent Sublette?
Gil Cates Jr.: Kent Sublette wrote the script. He and I came up with the idea many years ago. Kent is one of my good friends and he is a really talented writer. Kent is currently writing for “Saturday Night Live” and he is just really funny and has a great sense of dark humor. We were sitting around probably 10 years ago talking about movie ideas and he had this one about a serial killer that wins the lottery. I thought that was so interesting and I can actually remember the day we talked about it years back. We really spent the time coming up with the story around that and figuring out what was the best way to tell the story because it could go so many different ways. I had gone off to make my first film and in that time Kent had written the script and that’s how we came up with it. We had storied it out a bit with these characters and all of the different things that could happen.

MG: Did you find it difficult to balance the contents of the film being it’s a romantic comedy and a serial killer film?
GCJr.: It’s not something you normally see however people always liked the idea of a serial killer winning the lottery. The film is such a character driven piece that it’s not your mainstream romantic comedy or something that is an obvious sell, so it was definitely tricky. I think at the end of the day we used the script that Kent wrote. What we tried to do when I was making the film was to keep it a character piece and as real as possible.  No matter how silly a situation got or what happened between the characters, they were meant to be real people who were going through real issues. At the end of the day it is a real love story between two people except that one happens to be a serial killer who won the lottery and the other is a crazy small town girl that is an opportunist looking to move up. She ends up getting more than she bargained for.

MG: How did you end up with such a great cast?
GCJr.: Colin Hanks was the first person that went to when we knew we were going to be able to make the film. Colin is such a likeable person that I thought it would be interesting verses casting someone a little more malicious or who had an edge. Colin is just a naturally likeable guy. Colin and I read with a bunch of different actresses and there were some great people there but Ari Graynor was really right for this role. She was just great and understands comedy so well. The one thing Ari, Colin, Ann-Margaret and Jeffrey Tambor all have in common is they all at one time or another done theater work. Their understanding of the process and appreciation of the story is I think what everyone responded to. For Jeffrey this isn’t a typical role but I think he responded to the story and the role. The script and timing I think also helped with the cast.

MG: What do you think was the biggest challenge while making the film?
GCJr.: The biggest challenge working on the film I think was getting it made. We worked on trying to get the film made for years. We have done other projects while still pushing this one and nothing was more challenging than that! Once we got on the set with the actors just like any other projects there are moments of challenges that arise. But just getting the film made and having everyone on the same page with the type of story and tone was the hardest part.

MG: You shot the movie on actual film. Was there a reason you chose that over digital?
GCJr.: I think the question should be is there a reason anyone chooses digital over film? [Laughs] this is my fifth feature length film and all of those have been shot on 35mm film. I have done some other small things that were not done on film but in my opinion nothing is as great as film. Nothing is as true and rich. A lot of times I think people use digital instead of film because of cost. I haven’t met one person that has said that they could have shot on film but used digital because it was more beautiful. It tends to come down to money. I felt film was the best way to do this picture.

MG: Can you tell us about the planned Phase 4 release schedule for the film?
GC Jr.: Phase 4 Films is releasing the film in Los Angeles and New York on July 15th. It will open in two theaters in each market and the plan is to expand from there into other markets. It will be available on VOD as well. We are going to see how people respond to and then on from there.

MG: It will be available on VOD at launch on July 15th?
GCJr.: Some are. It varies buy provider as some are the day of and some are a few days later.

MG: Do you have any other upcoming projects?
GCJr.: I have a theme comedy called “Drunk Dial” that I think will be the next film I’m going to direct. I also have a few other projects that are in a few different stages of development. I have also been writing and we will see what happens.

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