That Awkward Moment: Director Talks Zac Efron & Rom-Coms for Guys

Tom Gormican has re-invented the romantic comedy wheel. His film about three twenty-something dudes in New York proves that even guys get wrapped up in romance. The film stars some of the most promising young actors in the biz, Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller. After the three friends make a pact to stay single, each of them meets a special lady. Zac’s character Jason begins to fall for Ellie (Imogen Poots). Daniel (Teller) strikes up a physical relationship with good friend Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis) and Mikey (Jordan) starts sleeping with his ex. The more they try to stay single, the more they’re forced to grow up.

I had a chance to chat with Gormican, who both wrote and directed the film, on how Zac Efron came on board, tailoring the dialogue to each actor and shooting the film’s outrageous scenes.

ATW: I love that this is a romantic comedy but with dudes.  Normally we see Reese Witherspoon eating ice cream and here it’s Michael B. Jordan. Where did the idea begin for you?

G: Michael B. Jordan is the Reese Witherspoon of our generation.

ATW: That is hilarious.

G: It was time to try and bring [romantic comedies] back but do something differently; not have people fall into gender roles.

ATW: Zac Efron definitely gives the film star power but his company, Ninjas Runnin’ Wild Productions, also produces. Who was approached first with the project?

G: We approached him. I had known Kevin Turen and Justin Nappi [who produced the film] and they had just finished shooting At Any Price. They were able to get him the script and he called me. Zac saw a lot of himself in the character. I hadn’t seen Zac Efron do anything like that before.

ATW: Susan Shopmaker is a great casting director. How did you work with her to find your cast?

G: She helped me fill in the surrounding cast on the movie. The principals had been put together. Those are guys I chased. But she helped us find the people that colored the movie. She helped me find Emily Meade, whose character opens the movie.  She’s a New York actress. The casting really was our doing and people I really, really wanted.

ATW: The title used to be “Are We Officially Dating.” Why so many title changes?

G: This was a discussion between Focus and I after we tested the movie. There was one guy who loved it. But said he can’t [say to his friends], ‘Let’s go get a couple of beers and go see Are We Officially Dating?’ Focus Features was like if you don’t want to change it, we’ll back you and find a way to market it. It’s a movie that really appeals to guys and we wanted to let guys know this is something they can go see.

ATW:  You were a co-producer on Movie 43 so you’re no stranger to outrageous scenes. There are a few in this movie-both of which Miles Teller is wearing no pants. As a director, was it a blast to shoot these? What were the challenges?

G: Even in the most broad moments of the movie, we wanted to keep the performances very real. Shooting those scenes can be tremendously fun. For the director, you’re managing actors’ expectations. As a first time director they’re going are you sure? It’s part of making them feel at ease about it.

ATW: Any outtakes we can look forward to? I loved the ones that roll with the credits.

G: The credits rolled are the outtakes you’re going to get. One of the things that people don’t know it that it’s a super indie. We shot it in Manhattan for 24 days. It was a very quick, super independent shoot.

ATW:  Wow! Well given you didn’t have a lot of time, was there improvisation or banter? The language feels very natural to each of the guys.

G: There’s no banter in the script. It’s all very carefully controlled. I had about 12 to 15 minutes to shoot each angle. I did re-writes specially for Miles, for Michael and Zac. I became friends with them and tailored the script to each individual guy.  You feel like it’s documentary style.

ATW: I felt like I knew these characters, they’re everywhere. In the movie, do you think that they grow up and then can find love or is it the lady that forces them to become a man?

G: I do feel like people think that different aspects of their life will all come together at the same time. The idea is that it’s not going to be a specific person forcing you to grow up. It’s a moment in your life where you realize being there for someone in a difficult moment is all adult relationships are. That’s the transitional point. People realize that at different times. This is essentially a coming of age movie.

That Awkward Moment opens January 31st