The Movie Waffler Interview - SAME BOAT Writer/Producer Josh Itzkowitz | The Movie Waffler

Interview - SAME BOAT Writer/Producer Josh Itzkowitz

Josh Itkowitz interview
Writer/producer Josh Itzkowitz talks about his new time travel comedy.

Josh Itzkowitz’s script for Same Boat initially started out as more of a farce – like The Naked Gun. The film on screen – from April 7th - is just as funny and charming, but grounded in a much sweeter, more realistic tone than that the initial draft encompassed.

A time-traveling assassin finds himself on a cruise ship, where he falls for the women he’s supposed to kill, in Same Boat – coming this April from Dark Star Pictures!

James is a time travelling assassin from the 28th century sent to 2018 to kill a woman, but when his intern gets sick and he loses his paperwork he has some time to kill, so to speak, while enjoying the cruise he accidentally falls in love with the woman he's supposed to kill. Same Boat is a film about duty, love, friendship, and how kindness is more powerful than destruction.

same boat poster

Tell us about your beginnings Josh. Where’s home? Where did you attend school?

Hello there. I’m a recent transplant to San Francisco, but grew up on the East Coast and went to school at Queens College in NYC. Queens didn’t really have a film program, but I was a media studies major and was able to take a couple of production courses. DSLRs were just starting to shoot video when I was in undergrad, so a lot of filmmaking tools were all of a sudden becoming more accessible.

And did you always want to make movies?

Not at all. I always loved watching movies as a kid, but I never had a clear moment where I thought this is what I need to be doing. In high school, I started shooting and editing comedy videos with friends, and that was my first exposure to film. The videos were fun to make, and even more fun to watch and share. I loved the creative and collaborative part of the process, and that’s mostly what stuck with me when I was trying to figure out a major in college.

How did you end up producing, as opposed to say acting or directing?

The first film I produced, Jammed, I made with a middle school friend, Yedidya Gorsetman. During preproduction, both Yedidya and I wanted to direct and were at a bit of a standstill trying to decide who would get to do it. Eventually, we agreed that since I was the more organised of the two, he would direct this one, and on the next project, we would swap roles. During that production, I really took to enjoying the responsibilities of producing and was quite relieved that I wasn’t directing! I came to realise that while creative ownership and input are important to me, directing actors and working through all of the creative minutiae that a director is involved with, were not. I still sometimes direct on small commercial projects that I produce, but in general, have found that producing is a better fit for my strengths and personality type.

What is it that fuels you to produce?

I love the process of taking an idea and turning it into something tangible. When I produce, a big part of what I contribute to a project is taking on the responsibility of getting that project across the finish line. Finding the right collaborators and script are essential because without them, there’s no creative fuel for the marathon that is making an independent feature. As a producer, I love finding directors, writers, actors, cinematographers, etc... to work with who are more creative and talented than I am. I want to make sure that I can contribute creatively to a project, but also learn from and be inspired by the talent around me.

What were your responsibilities on Same Boat, for instance?

I produced, co-wrote, and co-edited Same Boat.

And you co-wrote the film too?

Yep. Chris Roberti and I spent about a year meeting weekly working through story arcs, themes, tone, scenes, and character development. The idea was always to build the film around Chris’s comedic voice, and as much of a partnership as there was, he definitely carried more weight on the project as a writer. Chris and I met on Jammed (where he plays a burned-out ex-boyfriend hippie), and I had fallen in love with his thoughtful but goofy comedic brand of comedy.

Whose idea was Same Boat?

After making Jammed, I had the seed of the idea of wanting to film an indie movie on a cruise ship. I hated the parts of production that were extremely difficult to manage with a limited budget and crew and thought it would be a fun and interesting experience to film in a setting where a lot of those production difficulties disappeared. Craft services, transportation, background actors, lodging, set design, props, etc… I didn’t have a story yet, just a location and an actor/writer that I was interested in working with. After watching the South Korean film In Another Country directed by Hong Sang Soo, I learned that the film was built around a location and an actor and everything else came after. That gave me enough confidence to pitch Chris on the idea of a cruise film, and together (with help from Mark Leidner at the beginning of the process) we came up with the time-traveling assassin love story that we ultimately made.

It’s essentially a comedic take on The Terminator - was James Cameron’s film somewhat of an influence?

Yes! Very much so. We both watched that film and Terminator 2 while writing this script. They hold up quite well and do such a good job with story. One of our earlier notes when formulating ideas was “Terminator meets Love Boat”.

Any other films that you play homage to here?

As can be imagined, we watched a lot of time travel films, though we actually found Monsters, Inc. to be a helpful reference when we were getting stuck on story beats (our film shares similar themes and large plot points). Another helpful reference was the story of Jonah and the whale. We saw similar conflicts in our lead character James, about being sent on a mission that he was reluctant to complete.

Can you imagine Hollywood’s version of the film?

Sure! Originally, we had wanted to make a film that felt more like Naked Gun or Airplane!. Chris and I love those really explicitly stupid comedies, and the writing is so good on them. If there was a Hollywood version of Same Boat, we could have enough budget and control of the cruise ship to incorporate large physical set pieces into the film.

How important is the chemistry of the leads?

I’d like to think it’s important, especially for a relationship based film like ours. Before this, Chris and Tonya Glanz (who plays Lilly) had created a web series together called The Adulterers. They wrote and acted alongside each other in it, and had developed an on-set chemistry that really helped us out on our set. Tonya was a great collaborator to have in the film, both for myself and Chris. She’s really smart and would catch things about her character and the story in general that Chris and I would miss. Having her part of the cast definitely made shooting go a lot quicker and smoother.