Writer-director Kris Rey spoke with Solzy at the Movies over the phone on Tuesday morning about the recently released I Used To Go Here.
I Used To Go Here was just released in select theaters and VOD. How excited are you to finally have the film in front of a wider audience?
Kris Rey: I’m very excited to have it in front of a larger audience. It’s been sort of just living quietly on a hard drive for a while now and I’m definitely excited for people to see it.
The film had been selected for SXSW in March. How disappointed were you to lose out on the red carpet premiere following the cancellation?
Kris Rey: I was very disappointed. I have been to South by Southwest many times and premiered several movies there and was really looking forward to seeing this movie. I think also because it’s a comedy, I was really looking forward to seeing that with an audience.
It’s my understanding that the Unexpected college screening tour lead to the idea for this film.
Kris Rey: Yeah, I went to a handful of universities and yes, those trips inspired the premise for this film.
Was one of those trips at SIU?
Kris Rey: Yeah.
Was it was there a college crush involved or was that just completely exaggerated in terms of the film?
Kris Rey: Yeah, that part I made up.
On my second viewing, I noticed the lead character’s name. Was it intentional that the lead character—Kate Conklin—would share a name with a publicist or did you not even think about it?
Kris Rey: I had no idea that our publicist was going to be also named Katie Conklin. That was our publicist just for South by Southwest. The publicist—Katie Conklin—was very excited to have a character that had the same name as her but no, I had no idea.
Did the script change any after the film was cast?
Kris Rey: I think it always changes a little bit. Usually, when I cast an actor, I go back through the script and read it with them in mind. I might make adjustments for that particular actor based on dialogue I think would be realistic for them to say
What was your writing process like?
Kris Rey: Well, this film went through a number of different drafts and changed quite a bit from the first iteration to what you’re seeing today. But usually, my process is I write up an outline just like in a Word document, start using index cards, and kind of continue the film visually a little bit. I lay them out on the floor and take a look at them. And then I sort of go through each. Each index card will be a different scene and I’ll start just going through and trying to write each one.
What was the most challenging part of the production?
Kris Rey: Probably finding the money is the hardest part—financing.
Were there any films that helped to influence the film’s look?
Kris Rey: You never notice but we watched a lot of the Woody Allen film, Hannah and Her Sisters, as a reference but we didn’t—yu just would never know to look at it but that was an inspiration to us.
Given that you live in the Chicago area, do you have a favorite Chicago set movie?
Kris Rey: This is cheating. I’ll say Sleepless in Seattle. It begins in Chicago. Cheating really but I love that movie.
What is the best advice that you would offer to someone wanting to become a filmmaker?
Kris Rey: The advice I usually give is just to not wait around for someone to give you permission but just to start making it and start writing. Make it with your friends and do it for cheap just to get something going.
Hw has the pandemic affected you in terms of getting any work accomplished—have you found it easier or harder to work on creative projects?
Kris Rey: I have found it harder. I also have two kids who are home and that’s been tough since March not having school or camp or anything like that for them. It’s been definitely harder for me to sort of get things accomplished I think.
What do you hope we’ll see going into the next year once productions start to get underway again? Are we looking at more comedies or do you think we’ll see more horror films that probably wouldn’t make the best of sense after living through a horror movie?
Kris Rey: I don’t know. I’d be interested. The cycle of how things go is that people are releasing stuff right now that they made before the pandemic began, right. So what we’re getting—a lot of movies have postponed releases so what will be kind of trickling in are movies that that took place before we ever knew that this was going to happen. But I’m hoping—for me, I’m most interested in a comedy right now. I’m just like, I can’t deal with anything real.
As a filmmaker, how upsetting is it that you don’t have a theatrical roll out in the traditional sense?
Kris Rey: I think I’m okay. I’ve sort of been—I’ve just been trying to be done with what’s going on and see the silver linings. I do think that realistically, the movie would have most likely been a day-and-date release anyway. I do think that movie theaters would have been part of the plan but people have been for years very used to renting something on their TV and watching it at home. It’s not really all that different than it would have been. I do miss the opportunity to see the movie in a theater with a bunch of people. I wish I had been able to do that. But I do think in the end, we’ve been primed for a while now on just being in our being in our houses watching movies on a streaming platform. Tthis is a little bit of what it would have been regardless, I think.
Do you think we’re going to see an overall shift more so to that streaming digital platform for viewing and maybe just event movies in a movie theater?
Kris Rey: Maybe—G-d, I really don’t know. I don’t know. I have no more insight than anyone else.