Max Winkler – yup, Henry’s son – has made his feature-length directorial debut with the coming of-age story, Ceremony.
If you’re a fan of the web-series, Clark and Michael (starring his friends Michael Cera and Clark Duke) you already know Winkler’s work. Ceremony, which he also wrote, follows Sam (Michael Angarano) on a quest to stop a former fling (Uma Thurman) from marrying a worldly filmmaker (Lee Pace).
I talked with Max right before SXSW about the film, how he got the cast and tells me a funny bit of advice his dad gave him.
Where did the idea for this movie come from?
Max Winkler: Well, the idea of the movie probably came from a lot of places. It was pretty personal movie that I wrote, and I thought that would be sort of a good way to make my first film to sort of ensure that I feel very close to it and at the same time sort of have all the answers to any questions anyone may have. And also I was just sort of waiting around for other movies to come around that I was hoping that I could direct and I felt like while I have a second I should take the time and write something that I can probably really relate to.
You got Uma Thurman, Lee Pace, and you got Michael Aragano. This being your first film how did you get this cast?
Max Winkler: Because the script was so personal to me, I think people could probably find parts that they related in to it, ‘cause I wrote it from such an emotional place. I just had really good conversations with all of them and I felt so lucky that I got to have all these people come and make this movie with me.
Let’s go to the casting of Michael, he was originally cast as the best friend? And then Jessie Eisenberg dropped out and you decided to go with Michael, how did that happen? How did you decide to make that choice?
Max Winkler: Michael had been rehearsing the part for so long with Jesse and I. Just sort of having dinner together and reading the script around my dining room table. Michael really got sort of first hand practice at both characters. And when the time came when scheduling stuff happened and Jessie had to leave, we started to sort of search around everywhere, but before we really did it I just said “Mike do you just want try it and see how it feels, we’ll do it.” We recorded just Michael reading through the bedroom scene with Uma, with me playing Uma, in the office in LA. And I sent it to the producers, I think it became incredibly clear to everyone that like, we just really sort of figured out what our movies was.