Sleepwalk With Me’s Mike Birbiglia on being a first time director: “It’s like going to medical school”
Comedian Mike Birbiglia has taken his own strange experiences with a sleep disorder and transformed them into a new movie, Sleepwalk with Me.
However, he is quick to admit that he struggled to figure out how to make the film “every second of every day.” In an interview with Time, Birbiglia said, “It’s like showing up to the field trip in seventh grade and jumping on the bus and saying, ‘Hey, everybody, I’m gonna drive the bus.’ Everyone’s like, ‘What? You don’t know how to drive a bus.’ And you’re like, ‘I know, but I’ve been watching the bus driver. I feel like I have the hang of it. I’ve been watching other bus rides and I have my favorites and my least favorites, and I feel like I have a bus-driving aesthetic and I feel like that’s going to carry us through.’ Fortunately we arrived at the field trip. We didn’t drive off the road.”
Birbiglia enjoyed the process of working as a collaborative team on the film. “I’ve always had collaborators,” he said. “That’s how I started in college; I was in the improv group at Georgetown. And I hired a director, Seth Barrish [who co-directed the movie] to direct my one-man shows. But I’m on stage alone quite a bit and I have to manage an audience. Managing an audience in a lot of ways is like directing a film.”
Birbiglia is certain he’ll be behind the camera in the future as well. “I just feel it’s like going to medical school,” he said. “You can’t go to medical school and come out and be like, ‘I’m going to be a dog catcher.’ That would be so pointless. Once you know how to make a movie, you can’t not make a movie. It’s the hardest damn thing you could ever imagine and the skill-set is so specific. Also it’s a passion. I love movies and I loved making a movie, as hard as it was. I’m working on the film adaptation of My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, which is the show I’m touring the world with right now.”