No rent. No problem.
In this female buddy story, Olivia and Nicole are co-dependent roommates are trying to make it through life, but just sure on how. They get evicted from their New York apartment and then travelled to Los Angeles to audition for a reality TV show. Instead the journey reveals their vulnerabilities in their awkward behaviors.
The film stars Jennifer Prediger (“Red Flag”), and Jess Weixler (“Teeth”) with Megan Mullally (“Will & Grace”), Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparant”) and Will Forte (“Last Man on Earth”).
Latino-Review had an opportunity to interview exclusively with the two actresses via conference call late last month. We discussed various topics about the real life story, the cat, the jokes and many other things.
“Apartment Troubles” is available on VOD and across all digital platforms today.
Read the interview below.
Latino-Review: Let me start with this—where did the idea for “Apartment Troubles” came up originally?
Jess Weixler: Jenny and I were roommates. I came into town and needed a place to stay last minute. She let me stay with her. We only knew each other for about a month before we realized we wanted to make something together. We really wanted to make a buddy movie, because we loved buddy movies.
Then we both individually loved this movie called, “Withnail & I.” A lot of our movie is this homage to this British cult film.
And Jenny could talk about the crazy apartment in which we were living in. [Giggles]
Jennifer Prediger: It was an illegal sublet in a Bohemian East Village apartment building. Rent was stabilized and I was illegally subletting it. Then I just had to leave town. So she doubly illegally sublet it from me. It was the source of much material. The place was held together by duct tape like all the pipes in the bathroom were taped. The stove almost exploded one day and we got an eviction notice on the door at one point. We got all that sorted out.
All the stuff happening was so ridiculous that it was funny. It all became part of the canvas as we speak.
Latino-Review: You weren’t like the characters in the movie, right?
Jess Weixler: [Chuckles] I hope not. [Laughter] We wanted to make the characters more like “The Odd Couple.” We knew we had to push our character personalities into extremes. It’s also that we wanted it to be a study of co-dependence of relationships and friendships. One needed to be an extreme narcissist. And the other one needed to be needed in the relationship.
I’m sure there are ‘things’ within each of them that are like us. I certainly hope we’re not like that though.
Latino-Review: So how did you develop the character-driven story then?
Jennifer Prediger: We wanted to examine co-dependent friendship. One person was going to be the dominant and the other person was the submissive. This type of couple can be damaging to each other while at the same time to be supporting and nurturing to some extent too. We wanted to play around with that imbalanced relationship.
We wanted our characters to go on this journey, experienced the imbalance and hopefully learn things about themselves.
Jess Weixler: They could be stronger on their own. We knew the journey of the movie was so that they [could figure out] they could function without each other. They were in a relationship that had grown so beautiful in some ways. [Laughter] And unhealthy.
Also really is that a lot of our character development was inspired those characters in [“Withnail & I.”] We made these female American versions of them in some ways.
Latino-Review: There is a lot of randomness in the film such as making a speech in the subway or going on reality TV. Is this some kind of fantasy of yours to want to do this in real life?
Jess Weixler: [Laughter] Go for it, Jenny.
Jennifer Prediger: I often have the urge to get up and speak in front of captive audiences. So it could be on planes, trains and buses. I was an environmental journalist. I was constantly learning things that everyone should be aware of. I had that urge all the time, but I would never. It was really fun to let that out.
My character is exploring on what it means to be an actor, but also not being so great at it. She was trying to find her voice so she tries a lot of interesting things. That’s one of her moments is trying to find her voice.
Jess Weixler: The reality TV talent show—we wanted to show on how detached these women had become from society since they created their own bubble. They lived in a world all of their own. They didn’t really talk to many other people.
It was just being so inappropriate to do a conceptual performance art in that setting. We just wanted to put that dichotomy out there.
Latino-Review: So who was the big Chekhov fan then?
Jess Weixler: I’m a ginormous giant Chekhov fan. [Laughter] I’ve done “The Seagull” a few times. That movie has this “Hamlet” speech that comes at the end. We wanted to figure out the female version of that “Hamlet” speech that could send a message about one door closing and another opening. It’s like the dying off of something. So we pulled Nina for that.
And it really worked out since Jenny actually had a cat named Pigeon. It was a lovely cat that lived with us for a while and died while we were writing. We decided to put that into the script. It’s because when people go through that it helps bonding as friends and be there for each other. We used dying as a cat as a thread through [the movie].
Since the cat was named Pigeon, we were like “Let’s name the cat as Seagull.” [Laughter] We thought it was definitely a fun link Nina and Seagull also being connected to the dying of the cat.
Latino-Review: That’s sad. Did you girls barbequed the cat?
Jess Weixler: Yes! [Laughter] No. [Giggles]
Jennifer Prediger: Oh, it was delicious.
Jess Weixler: Jenny! [Laughter]
Jennifer Prediger: I highly recommend it. Put it on the BBQ. It’s really the best you can do. [Laughter]
Jess Weixler: It’s amazing to hear her joke like this. She was quite ripped up about this.
Jennifer Prediger: I’m a vegetarian. I would never eat my cat or anyone else’s. Or even Jess for that matter. [Giggles] It’s quite expensive to cremate a cat. These characters can’t even afford electricity so they had to take matters into their own hands.
Latino-Review: So whose cats are they in the movie?
Jennifer Prediger: They’re rentals. They have different owners. The hairy one is our photographer’s best friend’s cat. It is a very cool and very fun playable cat. The other cat belongs to one of costume assistants. [Jess] posted on Facebook for this.
Jess Weixler: We were searching for a hairless cat for a while. We were so relieved that the cat came through. We were sort of relieved after posting on Facebook and everyone we knew. We were “It’s strange to ask, but does anybody has a hairless cat?”
Jennifer Prediger: It was to ask and thou shall receive kind of thing. Just this is over a hairless cat.
Jess Weixler: It sort of came through while we were shooting. We were totally sure we were going to find this cat. Thank heavens, because it was a beautiful creature.
Latino-Review: Both of you wrote, directed and acted—which is many hats for a film. Especially since this is your first feature film that you both did together. Was it difficult and what were the challenges?
Jess Weixler: It was tricky, but I think it helped to have a co-director since it was our very first time directing and at the same time acting. We could really help look out for each other. We would whisper directions into each other’s ears so it wasn’t loudly telling each other on what to change.
[Chuckles] It was like “Do it better, Jenny!” The crew was so sweet and respected our co-directing process. We try to figure out on what we were going to do. And it also made us feel more intimate to be whispering to each other. Our characters would probably whisper to each other too.
Our cinematographer Dan Sharnoff was really, really helpful along with our producer Kim Leadford. They were just great eyes. Sometimes when we were both in the scenes, we were running out of time.
Jennifer Prediger: They were pretty good since we needed that extra set of eyes.
Jess Weixler: Yeah, it was nice to check in.
Jennifer Prediger: We also didn’t have much time to shoot. We didn’t have the time to go and to watch the playback. We could only do that on very, very rare occasions. We just didn’t have much time to do that. We had to pull our trusts on those all around us.
Jess Weixler: In our minds, we thought we could watch playback on what we can add. Since we’re often shooting, we could only do a few takes and move on.
Latino-Review: When I first watched this film, I saw it back at the Los Angeles Film Festival nearly a year ago. Back then it was called, “Troubled Dolls” and now it’s called, “Apartment Troubles.” Could you explain the name switch?
Jess Weixler: It was mostly a marketing decision for Gravitas. Gravitas felt like it would be a more accessible name to reach a wider audience.
Jennifer Prediger: We didn’t really have too much apartment trouble. [Chuckles]
Latino-Review: Let me start wrapping this up. Can you talk about some of your upcoming projects?
Jennifer Prediger: I have a couple of movies that are starting to trickle out like at South by Southwest. I was in “Uncle Kent 2” and another in “7 Chinese Brothers.” It was really fun to see those. And I acted in another movie called “Applesauce.” It’s premiering at Tribeca on April 19. And then there’s this movie.
It’s all pretty exciting for us. I’m travelling all over the film festivals and continuing to promote it for another stretch here.
Jess Weixler: I have this movie called, “Lamb” at South by Southwest. It’s by my friend Ross Partridge. It starred this genius eleven-year-old girl I’ve ever seen named Oona Laurence. She’s going to be a huge star someday. She’s so brilliant.
I think I’m signing on in another movie next month, but I just can’t say. But it’s an indie movie.
Latino-Review: Just out of curiosity, do you two still live together and best friends?
Jennifer Prediger: [Laughter] We do get to share a hotel room whenever we travel. We made through it as years as friends. It was very rough, because there were a lot of trials and tribulations in making a movie. We came through and I couldn’t imagine having a better friend or better partner. She’s very faithful.
Jess Weixler: So many people were like “If you co-direct a movie with someone, then you wouldn’t want to ever talk to that person every again.” There’s just so much negotiating. It just made us stronger. We had similar tastes in getting through the process together. It helps to tradeoff and taking the reins. It was picking each other up through the whole process to move it through completion. We really bounded and I trust Jenny with my life.
Unfortunately, I live in LA and she usually lives in New York. [Chuckles] It’s just a bummer.
“Apartment Troubles” is available on VOD and across all digital platforms today.