Director Ryan Eggold Talks ‘Literally, Right Before Aaron,’ Recently Picked Up By Screen Media

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Director Ryan Eggold Talks ‘Literally, Right Before Aaron,’ Recently Picked Up By Screen Media
Posted by Wilson Morales

May 25, 2017

During the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, one of the films that stood out with appeal was the romantic comedy “Literally, Right Before Aaron,” which marks the feature directorial debut of actor Ryan Eggold (NBC’s “The Blacklist” & “The Blacklist Redemption”). The film recently sold its North American rights to Screen Media Films and hit theaters this September.

For his first feature, Eggold has assembled a cast of familiar faces to many that includes Justin Long, Cobie Smulders, Ryan Hansen, John Cho, Kristen Schaal, Malcolm Barrett, Dana Delany, Peter Gallagher, Lea Thompson, and Luis Guzmán

After Adam (Justin Long) gets a call from his ex-girlfriend Allison (Cobie Smulders) telling him she is getting married, he finds his world spinning out of control. It’s been less than two years since their 8 year relationship ended and Adam is just not ready to say goodbye.  Against the advice of his best friend Mark (John Cho), Adam decides to drive back home to San Francisco to attend the wedding in hopes of convincing himself, and everyone else, that he is truly happy for her.  Once home, Adam meets Allison’s incredibly charming fiancé Aaron (Ryan Hansen) and finds himself in a series of embarrassing, hilarious, and humbling situations.  Over the next few days, Adam discovers the comedy and the tragedy of letting go and the hard truths about growing up.

Shortly after the film had its premiere at the festival, Eggold spoke with about putting together this film, which he also wrote, edited, and co-produced as a short before turning it to a feature.

Can you talk about taking this project from a short film to a feature?

Ryan Eggold: I was going through a breakup and thinking about marriage and heartbreak and loss and foreverness and commitment and all these things that had to do with relationships. Then I heard Bob Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” come on when I was driving to LA one day and I had this image of a guy watching the love of his life get married and go away forever. The different ways that our lives go and idealizing love when you’re young. Having to grow with people and change and how you relate to them and things. So, I went home and blurred out the first couple of scenes if not all of the short film. It was very quickly and wonderful and it just popped right out. Then I was really happy to see how many people related to it personally. People came up to me and told me their story about their ex-girlfriend or their ex-boyfriend and how they got invited to their wedding but they didn’t want to go for this reason or any version of that. I just thought that this was so universal and that we should make a feature.

Was it a challenge to get the finance to put together a feature?

Ryan Eggold: You know what. I got pretty lucky. I finished the script and gave it to my agents. How do we do this? I gave it to my producer Cassandra Kulukundis, who is wonderful. I never put a film together and I don’t know the first thing about this process. I’ve always been an actor on the other side of things. We had meetings and I basically was piecing together the financing. I had one investor putting in this and one investor putting in that. Alexandra Rizk Keane was starting a production company and wanted to make us her first film. I was so honored to be that first film. We had a great time.

Can you talk about casting your leads?

Ryan Eggold: Absolutely. You can make ten different movies with this cast. They are all so versatile. I appreciate more and more everyday what an incredible group of folks I got to work with. Justin was really kismet. It was just great timing. I had just written the last word to the script, and of course I had changed it many times, and I had bumped into Justin at Sundance. I truly had two actors in my head and Justin was one of them for this part. I introduced myself and said, “I just finished this movie and this is what it is about. I would love to talk to you about it. I think you would be great in the role. Fortunately, he wanted to read it and we had this wonderful conversation afterwards. He told me how he could relate to it in his own life personally and he told me things that he got from it and things that he liked. For me, as a first time filmmaker, it was wonderful to hear that from someone I admired as an artist. So he signed on. There is a story for everybody and I got very lucky. John Cho, Peter Gallagher, Luis Guzman and Lea Thompson were all great to work with.

Was the film always meant to be a dramedy?

Ryan Eggold: It was. I always wanted to toe the line between comedy and tragedy. When I say tragedy, I don’t mean very heavy handed tragedy about real things, but the tragedy of losing somebody that you love and the tragedy of letting go the way you saw things, and the coming-of-age and the loss of innocence. It’s about understanding love in a different way The comedy was very easy. The situation is full of comedic opportunity and great exchanges. Malcolm Barret’s scene in the book store with Justin was the funniest, being that his character reminds Justin’s character how great his relationship with Allison, played by Cobie. Moments like that were fun to play.

At the time you shot the film, you were also on The Blacklist. How did you manage to do both?

Ryan Eggold: It was tough. We planned it so we could shoot the film while the show was on hiatus. I started editing and I had a number of weeks to do so uninterrupted. Then I was finishing the edit while I was shooting the show, first The Blacklist and then The Blacklist Redemption. It was difficult when you have so much to do. You’re shooting 16 hours a day on set and then you come home and you’re exhausted and then you have to stare at a computer screen and start editing. It was very demanding and challenging but rewarding at the same time.

Does being on TV help with the marketability?

Ryan Eggold: I hope so. I hope if anyone is a fan of anything that I have done or that they are curious to watch the film. The film meant so much to me that I would love to share it with everyone. People are always curious when an actor directs because you’re coming from a particular point of view. People are curious to see how it translates to behind the camera. It’s fun to watch people try different things.


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