A 666-Character Review of ‘Great Choice’ / Interview with Director Robin Comisar
Short film Great Choice caught the Frightday crew’s attention at the Overlook Film Festival by its one sentence synopsis: “Woman gets stuck in a Red Lobster commercial.” Kicking off the fest’s first shorts package, the screening was met with laughs, shock, and applause. While I want to give a fleshed out review of it, it’s difficult not to give too much of a spoiler for a film of its length. There’s a bit of a twist that sends the plot down a darker path, the cinematography is stunning, and I haven’t met anyone who didn’t love it.
I sat down with writer and director Robin Comisar at Overlook to talk about Great Choice.
FRIGHTDAY: First off, why Red Lobster?
ROBIN COMISAR: The short is a shot-for-shot remake of my all-time favorite commercial. It’s a Red Lobster commercial from 1994. When I was setting out to make it, I was having my birthday that year at a seafood restaurant and I sent the commercial to my friend to convince him to come because he’s, like, a homebody, and he said, “You should make a feature film out of that commercial.” And I was like, “What would that look like?” Hence, the looping Red Lobster hell.
This is my most favorite thing I’ve ever made, and I’ve written it into a feature script. It’s been written, first draft, my producer hated it and they always have great notes to make me work very hard which is essential to how I operate. We’re hoping to get the final draft going by January 1st that we will just be able to hit the ground running.
FD: Keeping the same cast?
RC: I hope so, with the two leads that were in it. Carrie Coon is the best actor I’ve ever worked with, and the waiter is a major character in the feature. Without spoiling anything about the movie, the waiter is a very bad guy. Other than that, we have the same production companies that are on to support the feature as well.
FD: What was the production process like to get that sort of grainy, aged image quality?
RC: We shot everything widescreen anamorphic, so every shot that you see that’s VHS there’s also a beautiful cinematic version of that. And then I just ran everything through a crappy VCR that I bought at a local garage same. My friend’s parents were hoarders, and they recorded all of the television they watched throughout their whole lives. They passed a couple years ago, and my friend gave me just garbage bags full of VHS tapes and I sifted through those and found my favorite, different quality sets because VHS degrades in different ways. And I just ran it through a bunch of different styles of tapes and it turns out that a broadcast from the Y2K ball drop programming was the best grain to be convincing. That’s just straight widescreen anamorphic, and then run to DV cam to a VCR back to DV cam and then into the sequence.
FD: That’s cool, I know you can just throw filters on stuff. Glad to hear it was authentic.
RC: Yeah, nothing like the real thing.
FD: Is there anything beyond that that you’re working on that you can talk about?
RC: I’m outlining a bunch of stuff. Twin Peaks in Space is something I’m working on right now. Not actually Twin Peaks, but that’s my one-line pitch for it. I’m developing a TV show that is basically that. I’m basically just working on honing my script for this, hanging out with my dog at home.
FD: What kind of dog?
RC: A lab/Ridgeback, his name is Stanley.
FD: Has it been at other festivals-slash-is it going to be at upcoming festivals?
RC: Yeah, it will be. This is it’s second screening. It played at Borscht who commissioned it, down in Miami. Those guys are the best and it’s the most insane party you’ll ever go to in your life–can’t recommend it enough. It’ll be at a bunch more festivals throughout the year, none that have sent out official invites yet.
Since the interview, the short has screened at the Montclair Film Fest in New Jersey and the Reel Social Club Shorts Fest in Denver. Be on the lookout for its potential inclusion at other festivals during their shorts programming.