Andrew Fleming: Hello.
Scott Menzel: Hey Andrew, how are you?
Andrew Fleming: I’m well. How are you?
Scott Menzel: Good. Good morning. So first I want to say that I really really really love most of your work. I mean before this interview I kind of went back and looked at what you did and I know a lot of people obviously say The Craft, but for me, Dick and also Hamlet 2 are up there.
Scott Menzel: So this new movie, I just watched it last night. I really enjoyed it, and I guess the first question for Ideal Home then is where did you come up with the concept?
Andrew Fleming: I was living with a man and his son from a marriage to a woman who he had sole custody of and somebody suggested I write about our life because this is back in the 90s and we were not the norm. But I didn’t really figure out a way, the thing I was working on, a script that had these characters in it and that’s what didn’t really work so Paul and Erasmus sort of migrated it into my life and that became the script. And then I started personalizing it and adding things that had happened, and it became a kind of therapy, to write about our life together, and it evolved.
You know when it was done, the first draft, I showed it to a few people, and it was met with this you know overwhelming silence just because it was essentially a romantic comedy about two men. And nobody really knew what to do with it until I worked on it over time and tried to improve it and eventually realized the only way I could get the movie right is to attach two people to it, two actors.
Scott Menzel: So I’m curious about that because this is not only just the subject matter of this movie, but I also feel like there’s something to be said about most of the films that you have created over time where you very much focus on some that are strong in characters. There’s usually either a couple of characters, and it’s all about character development and the story within those characters’ lives. I feel like as time goes on, there’s much more of that independent filmmaking, but there is less and less of that in Studio system. Can you talk a little bit more about the struggle of having to have this idea and not being able to kind of get anyone to back it?
Andrew Fleming: Well it’s very hard to get a movie made period. I’ve done a lot of soul searching about this. I feel as though the fact that it was essentially a gay romantic comedy, it made it more difficult because, as my friend said, “It’s a gay Nora Ephron movie.” I thought that was funny and then I went it is kind of true. But then I also realized is that I couldn’t think of another example like that, and it kind of made me mad. It made me more determined to get the movie out there.
It made me reflect back on our experience and about how I did feel that I was kind of put in a box just because the movie was gay that “well you know you’re gonna get less money for it.” And “you know it’s not gonna be able to play in this region,” and I don’t know, getting feedback on the movie. When it was done, somebody, a very smart person, a very nice guy, was giving me notes and one of them went, “Is it maybe just a little too gay?” and I kind of laughed, but then I realized nobody ever said to the director after a screening of another movie is it too heterosexual? Do you know what I mean?
Scott Menzel: Yeah. Yeah.
Andrew Fleming: I felt, though, there was this kind of pervasive, kind of undermining and doubt about it because it was a gay love story. And the gay movies that happened generally are very very serious, and they’re about younger characters, and it’s essentially about sex. It’s about the sexy part of it, and this is about the life, the thing that happens, the real world emotional implications of what it’s like to be with somebody after ten years.
I get it’s a comedy, so I don’t know. It’s a complicated movie, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive, but I’ve also noticed that it’s a little bit of a Rorschach test in terms of how people feel about gay behavior or their own internalized homophobia. It’s been a real life lesson, and I will say it is not that easy.
Scott Menzel: I’m sure it hasn’t and I mean watching the movie last night, and I actually feel this way quite a bit about a lot of your movies, is that I feel like you take a concept that should be very familiar to a lot of people and you put almost like this very authentic, yet unique spin on it. And there’s something refreshing about that, and it makes me sad that not more movies have that quality to them. But I just wanna say that I did really appreciate the film, and I thought last night when I was watching it, you know seeing these two actors together, Steve and Paul, it’s not something that I would’ve expected at all. And I thought the pairing of them was pretty perfect.
Andrew Fleming: Yeah. No, I was thrilled. I mean I felt like, Steve signed on first and then Paul did, I felt like I’m the luckiest bastard in the world. This is the best version, this is the best possible version of this movie, and the big boon was that they were so keen to work together. They’re just huge fans of each other, and they were just so excited, and they were a lot of fun to shoot. Looking at them was amazing. It was just incredibly creative and fun, and we just laughed every day.
Scott Menzel: So when you got Steve back, I mean again since you worked with him on Hamlet 2, which I think is still one of the most underrated performances of his career so far, what was it like working together again?
Andrew Fleming: Oh well we’re really good friends, and he’s come and stayed at my ranch, and I know his daughter quite well, and I stayed at his place in England. We just know each other really well, so it was very easy and just pleasant. It’s lovely to be able to work with your friends, it really is. It’s one of the loveliest things you can do if you’re making a film. Paul is one of the nicest guys ever. I mean I’m certainly not the first person to say that, so that part of it was wonderful and they were down for everything. You know they loved to do the most outrageous, ridiculous, silly things. So that was just pure fun.
Scott Menzel: So when watching the film, there’s this running gag in the movie which I really enjoyed, the idea of the kid wanting to go to Taco Bell. Where did that come from?
Andrew Fleming: Well it just grew out of this idea that he’s a really pretentious foodie, they both are. What’s the most annoying thing that could possibly happen? But I mean that kind of comes from my life. My mother was a food stylist and a dietician and a restauranteur and maybe the best cook I’ve ever known, several degrees in food and nutrition. I’ve met Julia Childs and James Beard. They were fixtures of my life. But I remember saying “Can I please get a TV dinner” or “Can we please go to McDonalds” and it was a horror to her, but you know what she didn’t make a big stink about it. She would take us to McDonalds every now and then. But then sometimes she would say no that’s poison, you can’t have that.
But it’s also my kind of bifurcated because I am a really horrible pretentious foodie now, but I will say that I just love Taco Bell, especially at 2 a.m.
Scott Menzel: (laughing) Who doesn’t? Someone who is not a human that’s who. So you spoke I think a little bit about this in the beginning. How has the industry changed for you as a filmmaker and a storyteller since the beginning of your career til now?
Andrew Fleming: Well it’s very very difficult to make a movie like this now. There used to be this whole kind of range of movies. There’d be little tiny movies, and then there’d be smaller studio quirky character movies. And then there are the big giant, tentpole movies in science fiction and all that. The middle has disappeared, and it’s very very hard to get a medium, small movie made. But I’ve been doing television for a long time, and that’s kind of where all those stories have migrated to. Where you can tell stories about people over ten episodes, and you know I love doing that too. I love doing pilots; I love making television. I have something coming out on Netflix, so it’s all good to me, but you know it’s been changing since it started. When I started, it was all about selling off the video rights, and people were renting VHS tapes of things you know. The only constant is change.
Scott Menzel: Yeah and in terms of everything that you’ve done so far, I’m just curious from a director perspective or just a writer perspective, what has been your favorite project to work on?
Andrew Fleming: What was the most fun? I don’t know. Some of the most fun ones didn’t turn out that great. (laughing) But I would say that the best combination of the two was doing Dick. Actually, I will say it was the first time that I really had fun doing a movie. I felt this weight of pressure and anxiety on the first three movies that I did, and when The Craft came out it did well, so some people kind of backed off and kind of let me do my thing.
And I came up with, my cowriter Sheryl Longin came up with the weirdest idea possible, which is the story of Watergate as seen from the eyes of two teenage girls and wrote a really wacky script. And the fact that we were able to make that movie still astonishes me, but I love that movie, and it was so much fun to make. But you know they’re all fun.
Scott Menzel: Dick just that one and Hamlet 2 for me, what really stood out about both of them is that I feel like they’re really quotable movies. I mean whenever I watch Dick I’m still like “Get down Checkers,” you know like that whole thing you do with having Dan Hedaya say that I mean it’s just great. And the constant gag just because they call him Dick and just “you suck Dick” and in that time it felt like you said, it’s amazing that it was made. And you had such an incredible cast that all those people, like you, had Ryan Reynolds in that movie. You had Michelle Williams in that movie. You had Kirsten Dunst in that movie. You’ve got two of the Kids in the Hall in that movie. It was just such a remarkable film, and I just love it so much, and I try to watch it every couple of years.
Andrew Fleming: No, I think people realize oh this is a ridiculous opportunity here. This is really absurd, like the movie itself is a joke. And I think it attracted people who got the joke.
Scott Menzel: Is there something, is there a project that you would like to do that you haven’t gotten a chance to do yet?
Andrew Fleming: Oh there are bunches of things that I’d like to do. I’m excited about this Netflix series that’s coming out. It’s a shot after Ideal Home, and it’s all finished in 12 episodes, and it’s a very dark comedy with a really really superb cast, so I’m excited about that.
Scott Menzel: What’s it called?
Andrew Fleming: It’s called Insatiable.
Scott Menzel: Okay. Yeah I definitely, I mean Netflix is where it’s at anyhow right now for, especially you were talking a little bit about television. And I mean Netflix, you couldn’t have a better partnership right now than with Netflix or something TV related.
Andrew Fleming: No, and this show is really funny and strange and smart and dark too. It’s a real wild mixture of tones.
Scott Menzel: Good. I really look forward to seeing it. I’ll definitely watch it, and I’ll continue to support your career and all your work. And then the last question is, I think I’ve gotten a good understanding of what you hope people will take away from this film, but what do you want out of everything for someone who watches Ideal Home to take away from it?
Andrew Fleming: I mean really what my goal is to get people to see it just because it’s such a crowded marketplace and it’s getting a very modest release, it’s not getting a huge campaign. So I just hope people find out about it. I hope people discover it. That’s my main thing.
Scott Menzel: Alright, well I’ll help, and I’ll try as much as I can to spread the good word about it, and I do appreciate you taking a few minutes to talk to me today and best of luck and I’ll continue to watch all of the stuff that you put out.
Andrew Fleming: Thank you, I really appreciate it.
Scott Menzel: No problem. You have a great one.
Andrew Fleming: You too. Bye.
Scott Menzel: Bye Bye.