Finding Joy is an epic love story between two very self-involved, comedic characters. Kyle, a writer, and Joy, a committed hypochondriac, fall in love under some very unusual circumstances. A story of broken relationships, love, and forgiveness, Finding Joy is surely a must see. Press Pass LA had the chance to chat with the Director, Carlo De Rosa to see just went in to making such an artistically creative movie and this is what we found out!
PPLA: You got this amazing resume with credits as a writer, producer, director, actor, editor…besides directing, what was your involvement in Finding Joy?
CARLO: My involvement with Finding Joy was mainly as a director. I read the first draft of the script back in 2010 and we developed the script for several months. So I worked very closely with the writer, Mr. Shona Tuckman, and worked together so that the script could reach its fullest potential. And after that we started casting and prepping. And gathering all of the key personnel and then get to work.
PPLA: Similar to acting, as a director I’m sure you have to be fully committed and connected to the work that you do. What about this story moves you personally?
CARLO: The main plot line is about a man, a writer, that is stuck and has now gone back home for several years because of family history. And I connected with him very closely because at the same time I was finally resolving issues with my own father. And like Kyle, he has his own issues with his own father and sometimes those issues are based on major misunderstanding because we don’t really understand what the other person has gone through. And it’s not only me, I think many people can relate. We often have those situations in our own family. So that was one major element that connected me to Kyle. And there is the love story. It is not always easy to trust the person you fall in love with because sometimes you don’t always think you deserve the love or you don’t know how to get to the love. And so I really rejoiced in exploring that.
PPLA: That’s so interesting that you say sometimes we feel we don’t deserve love. What about Kyle’s character do you think symbolized this insecurity when he met Joy?
CARLO: Kyle is completely self-obsessed with his work. He thinks so highly of himself that he cannot get past that feeling of being actually creative. and that self-obsession is a wall. If you can’t get through it and realize that life is not all about you, then you cut yourself off from what life can offer you which is much larger than you.
PPLA: How was it directing Josh Cooke in this character?
CARLO: Josh was a blast. I called him the metronome. He is very young and precise but has so much experience. And creatively we didn’t have to talk much, we were 98% on the same page and what we decided was to take this story and his character and push it a little further than the reality. We reached for what we called heightened reality, something that is a little larger than life. So that the story would have a slight fairytale feel. Because all of the characters are extremely quirky and not completely realistic. We had a lot of fun tapping into that kind of comedy.
PPLA: And what about working with Liane Balaban?
CARLO: Liane is completely different from Josh in her way of work. Josh is very prepared. He is very precise. And Liane is completely spontaneous in whatever she does. And when we were casting her I remember that I didn’t particularly buy into the scenes that she had prepared because the tone was very dramatic. And even though the scenes were very dramatic, I was looking for who Liane really is. In between takes during casting I could see that that girl was full of excitement, and full of joy. And so we had a conversation and I said ‘You know Liane, if you can bring yourself into the role, then the part is yours. Because that is exactly what we need or Joy.” And she did exactly that which was perfect.
PPLA: What are you hoping the audience sees with the conflict that Joy and Kyle have in this movie?
CARLO: That’s a really good question. I’ve never thought about that in those specific terms. You know most romantic comedies are about two people not being well designed for each other. And for Kyle and Joy, they are both so self-obsessed with their own lives that in the page it seemed obvious that were meant to be together. However, they had their own personal and internal demons that they had to break through in order to be able to be suitable for the relationship. I guess what the audience can take is that you are inspired to look at your own obstacles that you create for yourself and break through those obstacles so you can be a better person for your partner.
PPLA: The relationships in the film seemed very real to me. Although the characters themselves were aiming for this heightened reality, Josh and his father for example experienced real pain together as they both mourned the death of his mother. Were you intending to make these relationships so real?
CARLO: I am loving the question because thats exactly what we aimed for. We were trying to find the balance between that heightened reality, fairytale feel, and yet the relationship had to be anchored in reality. So when I talked to the actors that’s exactly what I told them. On one side, their characters had to be larger than life, yet the problems they have are based in reality. I was pushing for that. I was pushing for them to reach those emotional peaks. So that besides the comedy, we could connect emotionally on the drama side of the movie. Because there are a couple of moments that are quite painful to go through, and I think that’s what the audience connects to.
PPLA: It seems as though Kyle as well as his father both had these major blocks after the death of the mother. In your own life, have you ever experienced something where you were blocked for a period of time and if so, how did you overcome it?
CARLO: Yea I would think so. When you work on a project or a script, or anything creative. You have moments where the flow just goes, where everything flows. And then you have moments, where depending on what’s going in your life, you’re not present. You’re not there.You’re trying to force things out of yourself and nothing comes out. And you blame yourself and you feel guilty. And the more you force, the more you get stuck. And then you have to work on your life. On your own personal issues in order to free yourself and be able to get that flow back. And a way of dealing with these issues is just to be present with your own feelings and not blame yourself and you know put the fingers where it hurts so that pain can be released. And when the pain is released, then you can be creative again.
PPLA: What message are you hoping this film leaves with viewers?
CARLO: What I like about this movie, with the main plotline of Kyle going back home because he is stuck and cannot write his book, is merely a passage to seeing things a little bigger. It’s really about trials, self-expression, transformation…the questions we ask are how can you love someone who has broken your trust? I think we have all been there. Or how can you be who you are without fearing any sort of rejection from your loved ones. And how can you reinvent yourself? How can you be creative when in fact you are really stuck? And the true answer is that on the one side there is family and on another side there is courage and forgiveness. And these answers really are what made me want to make this movie. I really hope the audience will walk out inspired and smiling and that they can look at their own lives and see how these things apply to them. If they feel a little lonely, they will feel less lonely. That’s what filmmaking, theater, and any art is supposed to do. Make you connect with the people who are making it so you know that you aren’t alone in this world.
Finding Joy hits theaters, June 7th. Watch the trailer here.