New Zealand actress Melanie Lynskey made her breakthrough into movies and cinema history with Peter Jackson's true-crime drama Heavenly Creatures back in 1994. Since then, she's become an actress utterly beloved by critics and indie movie fans for her layered performances in films like Win Win, Away We Go, Up In the Air and Hello I Must Be Going. In the new-to-iTunes comedy Putzel, Lynskey learned to embrace her inner shiksa to play Sally, the spunky center of this raunchy rom-com's tricky love triangle.
Putzel stars Jack Carpenter (I Love Beth Cooper) as Walter "Putzel" Himmelstein, a neurotic New York Jew who has become so engrained into the daily operations of his family's Upper West Side bagels and lox shop that the very thought of stepping outside the neighborhood fills him with crippling anxiety. He attempts to buckle down and prove to his uncle Sid (John Pankow) that he's ready to run the shop on his own, but their plans get disrupted when a sassy dancer named Sally (Lynskey) waltzes into their lives, and steals both their hearts.
Full Disclosure: I worked on Putzel. Years ago, I was handed the script when my friend, Jason Chaet, was gearing up to begin pre-production on his feature directorial debut. After reading the sweet and hilarious screenplay by himself and Rick A. Moore, I told Jason I'd help out in getting Putzel made in anyway I could. Ultimately, this ended up meaning a few days on set as a production assistant, and a few months on call as the film's assistant editor. It was a rare and extraordinary opportunity not only to see something I'd so admired in concept being sculpted into a vibrant and funny film, but to also be a part of that process.
With the film out on iTunes, I reconnected with Chaet and his leading lady Lynskey to share some of the filmmaking process's quirkier points.
New York City Was Putzel's Greatest AssetEven with celebrated indie producer Mary Jane Skalski on board, Putzel was a low budget production. But Chaet pointed out that shooting on location as much as they did gives Putzel all of the inherent production value of New York City in full swing.
"There is no greater back lot in the world than NYC. And the best part for lower budget films like ours is because of the setting, it doesn't have to look low budget. We tried to be ambitious in how we shot on the UWS, and use it to maximize the production values in the film…A lot of audiences think the movie cost five to ten times to make than it actually did. A great deal of that is because of the production value from NYC locations."
His advice to other filmmakers is get all the proper permits, and schedule them for early in the day, like 3AM. That's how Putzel managed to shoot its opening and closing shots without fighting the massive hubbub of Columbus Circle's later-day crowds.