Interview with Director and Screenwriter Bob Byington
Following up his award winning, Somebody Up There Likes Me, Austin, Texas-based actor, screenwriter, and director, Bob Byington, is back with his latest independent comedy, 7 Chinese Brothers, which premiered at Austin’s 2015 South by Southwest Film Festival and stars Jason Schwartzman. I was given the opportunity to ask Mr. Byington a few questions regarding his latest film.
BlueCat: What initially drew you to the medium of film?
Byington: I was an English Lit. Major and saw a few auteur movies when I was a junior in college, and felt the pull of it.
Quirky seems to be a common theme running through Byington’s collective work, with 7 Chinese Brothers fitting quite comfortably into his comedic oeuvre. The film follows Larry, played by Jason Schwartzman, a young slacker wandering aimlessly through a booze-filled life with his loyal French bulldog, Arrow, his elderly grandmother (Olympia Dukakis), who seems all too willing to finance his habits, and her nurse, Norwood (Tunde Adebimpe), who supplies Larry with prescription drugs.
BlueCat: What inspires you creatively? What inspired you to write 7 Chinese Brothers?
Byington: (Hong Kong auteur filmmaker) Wong Kar-Wai had a big impact on me. Regarding 7 Chinese Brothers, I saw a movie that I didn’t like. It really irked me and inspired me to try and do better in a very literal sense.
BlueCat: What is your screenwriting process?
Byington: This script just more or less shot out of me. That hasn’t always been the case, but this one was lucky.
BlueCat: 7 Chinese Brothers has a distinctly comedic tone, but there are also some rather emotional moments. How do you hind a good balance between the two when writing a comedic script?
Byington: It is from my unconscious, which is a mix of the two.
Like many of his films, Byington both wrote and directed 7 Chinese Brothers, and even has a small cameo in the film, credited as “White Beemer Guy.”
BlueCat: Which do you prefer, directing or screenwriting?
Byington: Writing is isolating, directing less so. I may prefer directing.
BlueCat: So, what is next for Bob Byington?
Byington: I am making another comedy, this time with Patrick Brice and Jay Duplass.
Until then, you can check out Byington’s 7 Chinese Brothers in theaters Friday, August 28th.