Mike Birbiglia was, for years, the faceless voice behind a lot of stories on This American Life, in which he recounted pretty terrible real-life events-- a dangerous sleepwalking disorder, a car accident unfairly blamed on him-- with the kind of humor and frankness that set him in an excellent middle ground between stand-up comedy and storytelling. Now one of his best stories, about how that sleepwalking disorder led him to jump out a window, has become a movie called Sleepwalk With Me, which Birbiglia stars in not as himself, but as a guy named Matt Pandamiglio who is an aspiring stand-up comedian and happens to have the same sleepwalking disorder Birbiglia does. Yeah, the similarities are pretty uncanny.
Sleepwalk With Me debuted at the Sundance Film Festival back in January to rapturous response-- it won the Audience Award in its category-- and eventually a distribution deal from IFC Films, which has the movie opening in New York this Friday, and expanding from there. I talked to Birbiglia at Sundance, just days after the film's premiere, and as we started talking he explained how the Sundance staff tried to keep him from walking into his own film's premiere, even with a badge that said "director" around his neck.
We went on to talk about the trial & error process that he and producer Ira Glass used to edit the film before the festival premiere, how being the director of a movie is like being the head of student government, how he may or may not have agreed to direct the film himself to save money, and how he got advice from filmmaker pals like Lena Dunham, Craig Zobel and Miguel Arteta about how to translate his own voice to a feature film. Take a look below, and see Sleepwalk With Me in theaters starting this weekend.
Staff Writer at CinemaBlend
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