After making six documentaries, the opportunity to direct a narrative feature was an exciting, refreshing change. Working with a story that already had a beginning, middle, and end was a dream for us— a luxury! We had only co- directed one film, so the chance to direct a romantic comedy together, on a shoe-string budget, on a tight timeline, with a seven-month-old at home— what could go wrong?
We knew our biggest challenge was to make it funny. There’s really nothing worse than comedy that falls flat (we know there are a lot of things that are worse than that), and we wanted to make sure we had amazing improvisational actors in our cast. Well, with the help of the great casting director, Allison Jones, our cast was an embarrassment of riches. We took advantage of their incredible talent, and did our best to use our documentary skills to ground the film in reality—no matter how insane the situation. Who hasn’t been on a nightmare date? Felt so self-conscious they sabotaged themselves? Been afraid to get out of their comfort zone? Taken things too far, only to wake up in the next morning with regret? Oh, you haven’t? Well congratulations. You deserve a medal.
We are huge fans of comedies, and they are our go-to almost every time we go to the movies or turn on our television. When you find that film, the one that made you laugh so hard you cried the first time you saw it, the one that you endlessly quote— it becomes your comfort food. For us, Slow Learners is comfort food. Even though we’ve seen it more than is reasonable for a person, even though it was one of the most challenging things we ever did, we still laugh out loud when we watch it, and we still quote lines to each other every day.
We tried our best to make a film that we would love to watch, over and over, and not worry about the calories. We feel proud of our work, inspired by our cast, and can’t wait to share our comfort food with you— without the guilt.
-Don Argott & Sheena M. Joyce