‘Mutual Friends’ filmed in Brooklyn, stars Brooklyn-based actors
“Mutual Friends,” which was released online on July 1, intertwines 10-plus New Yorkers and at least five complicated relationships into an 85-minute, Brooklyn- and New York-based movie that Director Matthew Watts said originated two years ago as he was watching “Pulp Fiction.”
While there are no Los Angeles mobsters or pulp of any form in “Mutual Friends” (although, strangely enough, the plot involves a cake shaped as a certain male body part), the two distinct films correlate in their setup; both movie plots depict individual stories that intersect at one central place.
After a series of picturesque shots of Brooklyn and Manhattan, “Mutual Friends” opens with quirky Liv (Caitlin Fitzgerald) as she composes and plays a birthday song —clumsily and not quite in tune — for her straight-laced and successful fiancé, Christoph (Cheyenne Jackson). Once Christoph leaves for work, Liv begins to set up his surprise party where all of the characters’ storylines later crash.
As the day pans out, viewers witness a less-composed Liv as inner-personal details are exposed, such as Liv cheating on her fiancé during a drunken night with her best friend, the commitment-phobic and musician Nate (played by Brooklyn actor Peter Scanavino). But that’s just one triangle — and the cue for a pen or pencil.
Liv’s friend Beatrice (Christina Cole), who is also “mutual friends” with Christoph’s ex-girlfriend, finds out that she’s pregnant on the day of Christoph’s surprise birthday party. Beatrice’s husband, Paul (Brooklyn actor Michael Stahl-David), remains composed at the deliverance of the news, but later panics, urging his friend Nate, in a vicarious manner, to enjoy his single and free life while he can.
And the love triangles (more like octagons) continue, including a stoner couple (who actually seem to have less conflict than the other couples), a nerd mixed with a bartender impressionist, two ex-mates crashing the surprise party and more— all in 85 minutes.
“Mutual Friends” includes not only Brooklyn scenes, but also two actors who are based from Brooklyn. The night before the film’s online release, Stahl-David (MSD) and Scanavino (PS) opened up to the Brooklyn Eagle about “Mutual Friends” and their experiences with filming close to home.
Brooklyn-based actors Michael Stahl-David, left, and Peter Scanavino play characters Peter and Nate in “Mutual Friends.” Movie still courtesy of FilmBuff
Who did you play in “Mutual Friends?”
MSD: “I play Paul, and he’s basically a man who maybe thought he was ready for adult life until he found out that his wife was pregnant. And then he sort of acts out in all of the ways that he could.”
PS: “[Nate] is a New York musician – kind of Williamsburg-type guy. [He’s] kind of the guy in the group of friends who hasn’t really settled down and is still living the life of a perpetual 20-year-old. He’s in love with his best friend, but he doesn’t really have the courage to own up to it.”
What type of roles are you typically drawn to?
MSD: “It’s fun to play people who behave badly. I try in life to be a thoughtful and considerate person and that doesn’t make for such interesting drama or comedy — I love a comedy that tries to tackle some real stuff.”
PS: “Typically I look for roles that will hire me,” he said. “I think that I like to play characters that are kind of more regular guys like I think Nate is. I think a lot of guys can empathize with me in that situation.”
How is living/working in Brooklyn? What neighborhoods have you lived in?
PS: “I live in Crown Heights right now,” he said. “It’s great to film a movie in your town because you get up and you take the subway to work — or you just walk.”
MSD: “I’ve been back and forth between LA and Brooklyn, but I’ve lived most of my adult life in Brooklyn. I love Brooklyn. I’ve lived in Carroll Gardens, Prospect Heights, Bed-Stuy…
“In Bed-Stuy we lived in an enormous loft where my roommates and I built the walls ourselves. We didn’t know what we were doing. And for some reason we didn’t think about Googling ‘How to build a wall.'”
Can you explain the process of filming “Mutual Friends?”
MSD: “I got the part two days before it started. It was my birthday when I was there, and it was just a nice experience. Those folks are people that I love,” he said. “I was just intrigued by that cast and excited to try something I hadn’t really done before.”
(Spoiler alert): Have you found yourself in a similar situation to Nate? And if you were Liv, would you have chosen Nate over Christoph?
PS: “Yeah, you know what, he’s a little different than me, but I think I found myself there a few times in my life, where I confessed my love to a best friend and they were like, ‘Oh, that’s great — but you and I are friends,'” he said.
“After watching the movie, I would make sure that [Nate] had a better haircut,” he said (on picking his character, Nate.) “I think a lot of people can go into relationships because they think it’s the right thing to do.
“But you only live once, you know…. Especially if you’re young, why would you settle for anything?”
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