Patch Q&A: Lauren Miller, Filmmaker and Actress

Miller, who co-wrote and co-starred in "For a Good Time, Call...," has roots in Three Village.

Raise your hand if you saw "For a Good Time, Call...," the sexy, comedic film about friendship that emerged from the Sundance Film Festival to a short run in theaters recently. Now raise your hand if you knew the film's co-writer and co-star has roots right here in Three Village.

Lauren Miller, 31, mostly grew up in Florida. But before her family settled in Florida she was a Long Islander, spending several years in Setauket and attending school at Nassakeag Elementary until the age of 8.

Fast forward to around 2009, after about three years working as an assistant to the prolific producer Steve Starkey ("Forrest Gump," "Castaway," "Contact"), when Miller and college roommate Katie Anne Naylon decided to write a comedy about female friendship. The pair spent three-and-a-half years writing it and pitching to studios to try and get the movie made. But in 2011, they decided to make the film on their own. "For a Good Time, Call..." was shot over the course of 16 days in August of 2011 for about $850,000, with the help of Lauren's older brother Dan, who found financing for the project. The pair spent six weeks editing the film and by the time January came around, they had been accepted to Sundance – where they'd eventually sell the film to Focus Features for $2.5 million.

Patch recently had the chance to chat with Lauren.

Patch: What do you remember about going to school in Three Village?
Lauren: I remember oddly a lot because I loved it so much. It sounds so silly. I don’t know if I have this romanticized version in my head, but when we moved to Florida, it was very different. [At Nassakeag] we did this incredible space project. It was so fun. The art teacher, he was amazing. ... It was just such an enjoyable way to go to school there.

Patch: Who were some of your influences growing up?
Lauren: My dad showed me "Funny Girl" when I was around 3 or 4 years old. I was convinced, even though I couldn’t sing, that I was either Fannie or Barbra. The message in "Funny Girl" is one that has oddly shaped my life – Don’t rain on my parade and nothing’s going to get me down. Nora Ephron. Amy Heckerling. Penny Marshall. Cameron Crowe. It’s such a can of worms to answer a question like that because so many people inspire me. Steve Sharkey and Robert Zemeckis. My own parents were incredibly inspiring in that they always told both my brother and I that we can do what we wanted to do, which is very inspiring to a kid.

Patch: How did you develop the story idea for your film? Was the subject matter challenging?
Lauren: Katie actually ran a phone sex line out of her dorm room her freshman year in college. This is certainly not a phone sex documentary or the real-life things she heard on the phone. I can’t say it was challenging, but it was fun. The point was not to make a documentary. It’s just about being funny. The story, at its core, is about female friendship and that’s something that is challenging in so many ways. That’s the story we really wanted to tell. The phone sex was just the backdrop to these two girls figuring out who they are.

Patch: How was the film received at the festival?
Lauren: It was incredible. We got our tapes back three days before we left for Sundance. It was just down to the wire. We had never screened it for more than 15 people at a time because we couldn’t afford to rent out a theater. There were 1,300 people at Sundance. It was so many things. Terrifying, incredible, exciting, really scary. As soon as the movie was over it was really amazing. We had two standing ovations and so much laughter. Twenty-four hours later, we sold the movie to Focus Features.

Patch: That must have felt pretty awesome.
Lauren: It was pretty damn gratifying. It’s crazy. I’m still tongue tied about it. This is not an industry where it’s easy. It doesn’t happen like that. It was a lot of frustration and time that brought me to the point of saying, "I’m tired. I am going to put this out there." We got extremely lucky and worked incredibly hard. ... It was this incredible dream come true that was beyond gratifying. All the frustrated years, the things that didn’t happen, the projects that got close. We were incredibly lucky for all that to happen for us.

Patch: Do you think you and your husband, Seth Rogen, will ever work on a project together?
Lauren: I don’t think so. I’ve been in a couple of his movies and had little parts. I think we would kill each other.

Patch: Do you find inspiration in your relationship with Seth?
Lauren: I think any couple finds inspiration with their partner. I’m lucky that I have someone who is so inspiring all the time.

Patch: What would you like people to know about the film industry?
Lauren: It’s important to support independent movies. Audiences have an incredible power to dictate what type of movies studios make, and I don’t think they realize that. If you want to see a lot of superhero movies, sequels, and shoot-em-up action movies, then go see those movies. But if you’d rather see a movie like "Bridesmaids," which is really important to see, then go see that. It really showed studios that there are women out there who want to see movies like this. As someone who just made an independent movie, if you want to see more movies like that, then you should please go see them.


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