Following the premiere of “In Your Eyes” Sunday night at the Tribeca Film Festival, the big budget film director Joss Whedon (“The Avengers”) released the sci-fi rom-com, co-starring Zoe Kazan and Michael Stahl-David, online for $5.
The supernatural dramedy, which Whedon wrote and executive produced, is the story of star-crossed lovers who live on opposite sites of the coast but have felt a psychic, passionate closeness since they were kids. They communicate by voices in their head and talk out loud to each other.
The film is the second offering from Joss Whedon and Kai Cole’s (Whedon’s wife) Bellwether Pictures Production, following their adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.”
After Sunday’s premiere, “In Your Eyes” director Brin Hill asked the stars of the film, along with cast members Nikki Reed, Mark Feuerstein and Jennifer Grey, to come on stage for a Q&A.
“We do have one person not able to jump up here,” Hill added. “One of the key contributors to the film is busy making a little micro-budget super hero film (“Avengers: Age of Ultron”), so he couldn’t be at Tribeca, but he made a video that I think we’re going to play real quick for you right now.”
Then the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” director materialized on screen.
“Hi, it’s Joss,” he said. “I wish I could be there with you, but I’m here with me instead. I did want to say thank you for coming to the film. It’s a very exciting night for us because it’s not just the premiere of the film, it’s the worldwide release date because as of now, ‘In Your Eyes’ is available on any Internet cable device for $5.”
Whedon added, “It’s exciting for us, because it means we get to explore yet another new form of distribution and get $5.”
Before Whedon’s surprise appearance, I spoke to Zoe Kazan on the red carpet and remarked that the supernatural elements – I had not yet seen the film – recalled her film “Ruby Sparks,” which she wrote. The movies are completely different, she told me, wrapped in a warm fake fur coat to ward off the cold. “This is a big sweeping romance. I thought it was really interesting. When you see it, you’ll see it has an unusual concept that was Brin and Joss’s. I just thought they seemed like smart, cool guys and it would be fun to make a movie with them.”
Part of the Bellwether process is to shoot the films very quickly, in this case 20 days on both coasts 3000 miles apart. “There’s wasn’t a lot of time to second-guess yourself, which, I guess, was good,” Kazan recalled. “It was definitely exhausting. I had a full-blown meltdown at one point on set, because I was just so tired from shooting nights all the time.”
What kind of meltdown, I asked.
“I was just really tired, tired and cold. You feel like a total adult and then you’re tired and cold and hungry and suddenly you’re not an adult anymore. You’re like a two year-old child,” she laughed.
Whedon wasn’t available during the shoot because he was in the editing room on “Avengers,” she told me, although they had a reading at his house. Asked if she’d like to be in an “Avengers” film, she said, “Yeah, sure.” But she’s not about to ask him. “No, no, that would be greedy.”
Also on the red carpet, Michael Stahl-David told me the idea of people paying attention to voices in their head and responding was not that difficult a premise to accept. “I think people get comfortable with the voices in their head half the time. And if it was a nice voice like Zoe Kazan’s voice, a very sweet voice, than maybe you’d come around to it.”
Brin Hill admitted that to direct a film written by Joss Whedon did add “pressure,” but he explained how the two bonded. “I love to turn genre on its head, and he loves to mash up genres, so I think for us it was a great kind of meeting of those two minds. Like, how do you make a love story and a sci-fi movie mash up together?”
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