Drinking Buddies  

by writer/director Joe Swanberg

Craft beer is the most exciting thing happening in America right now. Passionate brewers and entrepreneurs all over the country are taking risks and starting new breweries and redefining what it means to drink beer. They’re creating jobs and communities and challenging major corporations that have dominated the industry for decades. As an independent filmmaker, I relate to their struggle. As a home brewer and beer lover, I appreciate their creativity and skill.

When I set out to make Drinking Buddies, I wanted to show this exciting world of craft beer, but I also wanted to tell a love story. I’m a huge fan of romantic comedies, but they’ve been so bad for so long that I barely see them anymore. I wanted to inject some of the vibrancy and energy of the craft beer scene into the romantic comedy genre and, as we all know, beer can make the line between “friends” and “more than friends” very blurry.

Working with my amazing cast (Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston) we improvised this film based on an outline that I wrote. The actors came to set each day with an idea of the scenes, and they would create the dialogue in the moment. My cinematographer, Ben Richardson (Beasts of the Southern Wild), captured these spontaneous conversations with a beautiful fluidity, almost as if he were one of the actors himself. We filmed in a working brewery and invited the brewers to be part of the production. They taught us about making beer and we taught them about filmmaking and eventually many of them appeared on camera, as the two worlds merged.

I chose to work in this spontaneous way because I wanted the film to feel alive. So many romantic comedies feel formulaic and stale. I wanted to present a living, breathing world, where anything could happen. I wanted the actors to listen to each other and communicate the way we all do on a daily basis, when we don’t know what the other person is going to say next. And I wanted to showcase the intelligence and charm of these actors, who are all very funny and fun to work with.

I hope you enjoy the world we created, and the story we chose to tell. I’ve never worked harder on a film, but I’ve never had more fun, either, and I hope that translates to the experience of watching it.

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