Doppelgänger Paul is a wacky film about a guy following around another guy because he’s convinced it’s his doppelgänger (even though they look nothing alike). It’s very similar in style and tone to something from the mind of Charlie Kaufman, and is a lot of fun if you give it a chance.
Criticize This! spoke with directors Dylan Akio Smith and Kris Elgstrand about the film, which is premiering at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Read our Q&A below.
Brian McKechnie: How did the idea for Doppelgänger Paul come to you?
Kris Elgstrand: The genesis of the idea is so weird in a way. I wanted to do a movie reminiscent of the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby movies. You can’t really see that influence in the movie where it stands now, but that was part of the [original] idea. And this notion came to me of this guy who thinks another guy is his doppelgänger and they look nothing alike.
BM: Did you have the actors in mind when you were writing the script?
Kris Elgstrand: I certainly had Brad [Dryborough] in mind, who plays Paul. We’ve done a lot of films together over the past 10 years and he’s been in pretty much everything we’ve made. I knew I wanted him. The casting of Tygh [Runyan] came about a bit differently. Dylan had worked with him on a film in university and I’d known him for years and we wanted to work with him. This part just seemed like the perfect opportunity for it.
BM: How did you mange to share the directing duties?
Dylan Akio Smith: Generally Kris is the ideas and I’m the execution. I don’t think that changed a lot. For the most part I trust him to make sure that I don’t mess it up and he trusts me to execute all the ideas with all our collaborators. Kris hangs back at the monitors while we’re shooting and makes sure we’re staying true to his idea. It works.
BM: What was the most challenging aspect of the production?
Dylan Akio Smith: Probably with our budget size and the small crew. A lot of the people were our friends and most of the time they just wanted to party with us.
Kris Elgstrand: Logistically it was a really challenging movie. It covers a lot of ground during the road trip to Portland and there are a lot of days in terms of costumes and everything.
BM: How important is it to have the film premiere at TIFF?
Dylan Akio Smith: It’s huge. It was always in the back of our minds that we wanted to have the world premiere here. If given the choice we’d premiere every movie we make here.
BM: What do you hope the audience gets out of it?
Dylan Akio Smith: A rollicking adventure with something to think about after.
Kris Elgstrand: It’s a pretty wild movie and I just hope they come along for the ride and enjoy it. It’s an odd duck, but if you’re open to it you’ll have a lot of fun.
BM: What are you guys working on next?
Dylan Akio Smith: We’ve been developing a film for a long time, which is how this movie came about. We were getting frustrated waiting and made this in the meantime on our own. We’re going to go back to that one which is a lot bigger. It’s called The Job and is a political satire with action, adventure, and comedy.
Kris Elgstrand: In a perfect world that’s the next one. If it comes together we can put together another movie on the scale of Doppelgänger Paul while things are continuing on The Job.
Doppelgänger Paul screens at TIFF on September 12 at 9:15 p.m. at the AMC, September 14 at 3 p.m. at the AMC, and September 17 at 7 p.m. at the AMC. For more info, visit tiff.net.
Top image: A scene from Doppelgänger Paul. Courtesy TIFF.