SIDE DISHES: The Cast and Crew dish about their experiences on the set of Chasing Taste.
Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. I only have a few questions.
I’m going to be all over the place in talking aboutChasing Taste, I’m sure, but it’s only because I’m exhilarated by what we’ve accomplished together. It has been a wonderfully fulfilling journey, and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together on the screen. That said, I will do my best to answer some questions about working on this incredibly funny film.
What is the role of FOOD in the film?
That’s like asking what the role of cars is in The Italian Job. Or guns in Reservoir Dogs. Or spaceships in Star Wars. They all provide a means to and end, and food inChasing Taste is no different. Food provides fuel and nourishment of course, but also comfort and purpose and entertainment and so much else. And since food and restaurants are ubiquitous and diverse in New York City, there are seemingly endless choices of how to feed ourselves. It’s a great metaphor for life in the big city. There are so many options that often people need someone to narrow down the choices for them so they don’t starve of indecision.
What is it that the characters in the film are looking for?
All of the main characters in the film are looking for happiness and fulfillment in an often unforgiving city of millions. Their amusing lives are at best incomplete and at worst painfully unmanageable, and they must each find the secret ingredient for their own individual recipes for success. To do so, these individual characters with unique personalities and aspirations – like several disparate ingredients plopped together into a pressure cooker – have to mix and change and allow themselves to become part of something greater.
Nice foodie imagery there...
Chase, the de facto protagonist in this ensemble film attempts to b.s. his way into being a published novelist by making his name as a popular food critic. When he loses his sense of taste and smell, he needs others to be his taste buds and nose so he can fabricate elaborate and entertaining restaurant reviews for New Yorkers to feast on. His desperate and misdirected quest to be the ultimate foodie drives the film.
Talk about AJ...
My character, AJ, has a unique relationship to food. He is a closet binge eater who devours junk food at times of high stress and anxiety. Because he can’t find his true calling in life (or a simple paying gig!) after leaving his job as a lawyer – causing his highly motivated and domineering fiancee, Palmer, to lose all patience with him – his moments of stress and anxiety become more and more intense and more and more frequent. He seeks help from Savannah, a beautiful married yoga instructor who becomes his Binge Eaters Anonymous sponsor (and something more, he hopes) but who has fallen off the wagon herself. Eventually AJ must stop eating his feelings and listen to his heart in order to make a real decision for himself.
And, what -
Did I mention this is a comedy? Well, comedies are about love and food, so we’ve got both. That’s the short answer.
THAT'S the short answer? I see. What is it like filming in New York City?
It is incredibly challenging but extremely rewarding. There was a tangible energy that was infused into our exterior scenes particularly. Because we were an ultra-low budget project, we often shot on the run and always without the benefit of having a locked down set. So when I was running down the street, screaming, with a mouth and sweater full of Twinkies several times in downtown Manhattan, there was genuine concern expressed by passersby for my sanity. I have to say, that made it even more fun than it would have been on a closed set.
I think we had cool locations simply because we shot in New York City. Using only locations that project members had access to provided us with some truly wonderful and contrasting places to shoot, and that is mostly because there is just so much to choose from in New York, especially when you reach out to everyone you know and everyone they know.
What are your most memorable moments that happened on set?
Now THAT is some alliteration! I’d have to say my favorite moment was working with Joseph Gannascoli and Nancy Opel during the Binge Eaters Anonymous scene which we shot at Don’t Tell Mama. I guess I was a little nervous, especially doing a scene with such talented and accomplished actors, and they rode me a bit.
After each take, I asked Sean Gannet, our fearless director, if my entrance through the door was timed correctly, even though I wasn’t even in the scene at that point. Finally, Joe was like, “What’s the deal with your entrance, huh? Jeez!” Nancy immediately piled on with something like, “Real professional!”, and I was desperately hoping they were only kidding with me. I felt kind of like the Jeff Daniels character in Dumb and Dumber immediately after Mary Swanson hits him playfully with a snowball. Thankfully I didn’t retaliate the same way! Instead, a few moments later, Sean corrected Nancy on a small line she had been omitting over the last few takes – not that big a deal at all – and I tapped Joe and said quietly, “My entrance ain’t looking so bad now, is it?” And there was laughter and joy and love and tolerance and peace.
What is your favorite part about working on Chasing Taste?
I loved working with all the wonderful people on this project. It is a miracle that we were able to do this from beginning to end using only what we had access to. It was a true team effort with incredible leadership by Sean Gannet, Ashely Wren Collins, Maitely Weismann and Ashley LoFaso. I have no idea how they did what they did, but I’m so grateful to them. Also, the entire cast and crew were so giving and tireless and relentlessly devoted to creating excellence. What a great experience to work with all of them, day in and day out. And I can’t say enough how wonderful it was to play a part written by Lori Fischer. Man, I just love her. I really felt like the role was written for me even though (I hope) it is very different from who I am. Okay, I’m kind of a lovable loser, too, but it was just great to play this fun role in a wonderfully scripted feature film.
So enough ass kissing. Seriously, all the above is from the bottom of my heart. But my favorite part of shooting this project would have to be the consummately professional but also entirely loose and fun atmosphere on every set. We got our work done and we had a blast doing it. I really enjoyed joking with cast and crew between shots and the bonding we experienced throughout the project, and also knowing that the work came first for everybody. Such a great mix of purpose and unadulterated fun. Like a mullet - business in the front, party in the back. Okay, bad example. Awkward. Anybody want a Twinkie?
No, no.. I'm on a diet.. okay, what the hell. Thank you.
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