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Stuart Acher, writer/director of #Stuck

#Stuck opens at Village East Cinema on October 10th, 2014.

NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you think are the basic elements that turn a romantic comedy into a classic?

Stuart Acher: So many romantic comedies, I feel, deliver the same thing. The definition of a classic in a romantic comedy genre is more and more harder to acheive as audiences get smarter, and they've seen more and more of these things. At this point, the definition would be something that delivers something that you don't expect or at least has something that we haven't seen many, many times.

NYC MOVIE GURU: How challenging was it to find the right cast and to make sure they have chemistry?

SA: Casting is 99%, as Woody Allen says. The rest of the time the director just shuts up. In our case, because this is literally an actor's piece that needs actors who can carry the film while in a car together, it's imperative. We actually had others cast. We never quite got it right when we were in pre-production going for casting. There's always that fine balance of having the right name for the budget that you're working on that makes it sort of the business part of creative, and the second part is, of course, having the chemistry that you're talking about. That's a hard combination to fill. Our actors who were sign on dropped out 48 hours before we were going to shoot. We were left with no cast. Our new cast had less than 48 hours to learn the dialogue. As soon as Joel David Moore and Madeline Zima read the script, they loved it immediately. I knew that they would never had a chance for a chemistry read because we were shooting the next day. What we did was that we rescheduled the entire shoot so that it would play into what you would see onscreen. So, rather than filmming those intimate moments right away, they met for the first time on the first day of shooting. When you watch the film, they're supposed to have a disconnect the morning after. It worked perfectly. By the end of the car sequences, they had chemistry and got to know each other and had intimate settings which translated nicely for the film.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Why did you choose a big red font for the title card?

SA: Title sequences are still part of the movie. I really wanted to use it as an opportunity to set the stage. The "#Stuck" is bold red to feel like you're stopped. I wanted to texturize it to make it look like a blinking reflector light so-to-speak, and I wanted it really big so that you could really feel the red light these two people are facing emotionally and physically. I shot the film during Carmageddon [in LA]. We had to fill in some of the cars using CGI with matchbox cars.

NYC MOVIE GURU: How challenging was it to keep the film very lean without going off into many tangents?

SA: We did have to cut out the earthquake scene. [laughs] The script is very, very tight. The hardest part as far as the running time was all the wonderful improvisations that the actors gave me. There was so much great stuff way beyond what I wrote. The hardest part was picking and choosing what would fit into the thematics of the film and what was considered a tangent or what would go too far.

NYC MOVIE GURU: How do you feel that the advancement of modern technology is affecting the quality of human relationships?

SA: My gut reaction is the say that it's killing it, but when you really think about it it's also such a great thing. I'm in touch with people who I'd never been in touch with in my normal life thanks to texting and facebook. I wouldn't be able to re-connect or to be in their lives so-to-speak. However, I'm not really in their lives. Technology makes connection a sort of one-sided thing.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Do you think we live in shallow times?

SA: I definitely think that we live in much more shallow times than we ever did because think about the content-filtering that one person has to do in a single day compared to when I was a kid or during my parents' time. It's all superficial. It's all look and see. But when you're having coffee with a friend and they're telling you a story, you're connecting with the friend and then they're delivering you the content. We're 100% more superficial as a society and that's why I think that #Stuck has some relevance. A lot of people are in these people's position---they are stuck---and they don't know why. A lot of it is because of the way that they go about connecting with people.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Do you think Guy and Holly have a future together as a couple?

SA: I have my theories, but I wouldn't want to put it out into the zeitgeist because when I was the creating the characters, I also created another ending which was more finite. It didn't work for me as well. The open ending to me was more interesting.

NYC MOVIE GURU: How challenging is it to make a movie that can't be turned into a video game? Are these the kind of films you want to continue to make?

SA: Yes, it's a challenge. These are the kind of stories I want to continue to make. There's something to be said for what those video-game movies deliver. Unfortunately, they've become the majority. Hopefully, if people support films like this, it will send the message that the demand is there.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Did you ever consider to tell the story of Guy and Holly linearly instead of occasionally inserting flashbacks?

SA: It was never an option. In fact, this movie wouldn't work if I hadn't done the flashbacks in the way that I did. To me, it's two narrative strands that are working constantly in juxtaposition to each other. If there's one thing that we all know about filmmaking, it's conflict. It wouldn't be very interesting to me as a filmmaker to tell the same story twice in the past and in the present. It's a lot more interesting to really feel the concept of the film which is regret and self-reflection. To get those feelings, there needed to be that juxtaposition.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Which actors from the Golden Age of Cinema do you imagine in the roles of Guy and Holly?

SA: This movie is so of-the-now, a modern film. Even the style of the acting is so different from back then--it's come a long way. Maybe James Stewart would make for a great Guy. For Holly, that's so complicated. She needs to be accessible. So many women of the Golden Age are inaccessible. I'd need someone accessibly pretty but also ugly sometimes.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Which films would make a great double or triple feature with #Stuck?

SA: Maybe Pretty Woman because she also thematically feels stuck. When Harry Met Sally.... You know what would be interesting? Crazy Stupid Love or Celeste and Jessie Forever.

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