A verifiable renaissance man, James Morosini is the writer, director and star of I Love My Dad, a new comedy inspired by his own true life experience, which took the festival circuit by storm earlier this year, playing to sold out crowds and winning both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at SXSW.
He sat down with us to discuss his recent success.
LEO: Tell us about I Love My Dad.
James Morosini: I Love My Dad is a comedy about an estranged father who catfishes his son as a way of reconnecting with him. It’s inspired by a true story – a version of this happened to me.
You won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at SXSW. That must’ve been a dream come true.
I had no idea what to expect going into SXSW. I knew we’d made a special film, but was not expecting the degree of love it received and how meaningful it would ultimately be to me and my team. It was one of the best moments in my life and I’m truly humbled.
Although I Love My Dad is your second feature film, this is the first time you’ve had to direct a star like Patton Oswalt. Were there any new learning experiences from working with a name and larger budget? Did you approach this film any differently?
My approach to this film was no different than any other project. A ton of prep and many candid conversations with my cast and crew. When I’m making a movie, I try to create an environment where we can share and celebrate the nuance of the particular story we’re telling. Patton is a master storyteller and has a brilliant, quick-witted mind. Working with him was one of the high points of my career.
Who – if anyone – did you lean on most during the making of I Love My Dad?
I leaned heavily on everyone around me. Making a film is such a collaborative effort that requires everyone to be in it together. I was very lucky to be working with some of the best in the business.
There seems to be a recent backlash against film school programs by directors who say one should save their tuition fees and spend it on a micro-budget film instead. You went to USC School of Cinema. Was the experience beneficial or do you subscribe to the above argument?
The experience of studying theater and film at USC definitely gave me the fundamental tools I use in my filmmaking today. That said, I think everyone has their own path and I certainly don’t think you need to go to school in order to be a filmmaker.
Which past and present writer-director auteurs, American or otherwise, do you consider to be your greatest influences?
The list is endless, but some people I’ve learned the most from are Spike Jonze, David Gordon Green, Ruben Östlund, Paul Verhoeven, Michael Haneke, Charlie Kaufman, Quentin Tarantino, Ben Stiller, and Paul Thomas Anderson.
CHECK OUT JAMES
As Franklin in I Love My Dad
As Dalton in the HBO series The Secret Lives of College Girls