Many people just need a break, a few days to cool off and readjust your life. That’s what actress Nikki Gold realized on the brink of a career scandal so she stays in a small New Hampshire town longer than she expected in 3 Days of Normal. This film is one of our most delightful narratives we’re playing this year and we’re thrilled we were able to talk with director Ishai Setton about creating the right tone for this type of romantic comedy and how it’s possible to make a town a character in the film.
Heartland Film Festival: On paper, this seems like it is a raunchy comedy. A Hollywood starlet gets drunk and ends up in a small town while avoiding a sex tape scandal. Yet the tone is a delightful and warm movie that all ages can enjoy. Was this always something you wanted to achieve?
Ishai: Yes. It’s actually what first attracted me to the project. After I read the script, I thought that it had been a really long time since I’d seen a film that was so sweet and simple. I love classic Hollywood romantic comedies and I got the feeling after reading this that it almost could have been made 50 years ago. I wanted to try to capture that mood and timelessness and yes, make a film that anyone can enjoy.
Heartland Film Festival: It’s always a challenge of how unlikable can you make your romantic lead. You have to show his pain but you also want the audience to be interested in him and his pursuits. How did you create the right balance?
Ishai: I think that was a challenge for both of our characters. But I was most concerned about our lead actress – Nikki (Mircea Monroe). She plays a successful Hollywood actress – who I thought would very difficult to sympathize with – she’s famous, she has money but she also has a lot of problems. I felt as long as we tried to get to the fact that deep down she’s a good person, if not a little lost, that you would get on her side. For me, it was about hitting emotional truths in their characters. The more real and human and flawed that they both feel, the more I think an audience can get behind them and root for them to get together.
Heartland Film Festival: The town is as much of a character as anyone else. What care was taken to form this New Hampshire small town?
Ishai: A lot, actually. As soon as we visited the town, we knew that this is where we needed to set the film. The first draft of the script actually took place in a fictitious town in a fictitious county – but yes, immediately after visiting Washington, we decided that the film had to take place there. We had a meeting with the town’s selectman (who is also the town’s postman) and got permission to use the town’s actual name in the film. We also cast a lot of locals and tried to really paint a realistic portrait of this idyllic life in small town New Hampshire.
Heartland Film Festival: Your lead actor, Jace Mclean, is also the co-writer of the film. Did that make it easier or more difficult to direct him since he has been in these characters’ heads for so long?
Ishai: Jace McLean is incredibly difficult. Okay, not really. It was a great experience – because he had such a vivid and thorough understanding of his character. At the end of the day, Jace knew Bill best and remained very true to that character throughout the process.
Heartland Film Festival: Are you working on a next project?
Ishai: I actually made a film just after this one called, The Kitchen, and stars Laura Prepon and Bryan Greenberg. Otherwise, I’m working as an editor and trying to write the next film.
Heartland Film Festival: What have been some moving films that have inspired you as a filmmaker?
Ishai: The films that inspired me to make this film are those classic Hollywood romantic comedies, like An Affair to Remember and The Philadelphia Story. But in terms of other “moving” films – I think pretty much all of my favorites are made by Pixar. And I just rewatched The Wizard of Oz. I mean it doesn’t get much more inspiring and moving than that.
You can purchase tickets for 3 Days of Normal for the following days…
– Saturday October 20 at 9:15 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
– Monday October 22 at 8:45 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
– Friday October 26 at 1:45 p.m. at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12
– Saturday October 27 at 1:30 p.m. at AMC Castleton Square 14
Interview conducted by Austin Lugar