So it’s Valentine’s Day. Love the holiday or hate it, it’s a great excuse to take a look at the quirky short, Are You the Favorite Person of Anybody? Written by Miranda July (The Future, Me and You and Everyone We Know) and directed by Miguel Arteta (The Good Girl, Cedar Rapids), this 4-minute film follows a man, played by John C. Reilly, as he stands on a street corner and surveys people on the title question. His query is thought-provoking and the exchanges it inspires entertaining.
While this film absolutely stands on its own merits, its backstory is worth knowing and adds another dimension to the material. The movie cost $150 to make and was written on a Saturday and shot the following Tuesday. The collaboration between July and Arteta took place at the end of their relationship. In an interview with Wholphin (Issue No.1), July and Arteta tell the story of July’s exit off camera (she plays the woman on the street) and touch on how this film tied in with their split.
Miranda July: …I was thrilled at the prospect of just being an actress after writing, directing, and acting in “Me and You”. I remember walking away from John C. Reilly at the end of my scene and wondering if I was off camera yet. But no one yelled cut and I said to myself, “I’m just an actress, I’m gonna keep on walking until someone tells me to stop.” I walked practically to the next neighborhood before anyone noticed I was gone.
Miguel Arteta: I knew this would be the last time I directed her, so I didn’t want to yell cut. Miranda and I made this short right before we broke up. When I read it, it hit me hard for the first time: I wasn’t going to be her favorite person for too much longer. I was having doubts about us and the script felt like a warning- “How sure are you of this? Very certain, Confident, You think so, Not so sure, Could be.” I said, “Let’s shoot this, right away”- knowing that working together was something I would always cherish. The shoot was painless but sure enough, by the time I started editing, we were broken up. This little short is like a rear-view mirror that survived a fabulous, painful crash.
It’s always interesting to get a sense of where an artist was when he or she made something and see how that knowledge shapes your interpretation of the work. Enjoy the film, the glimpse of the people behind it, and of course, Friday. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Know of a film that you think would make a great pick for short of the week? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.