Josh Itzkowitz is an indie filmmaker who got his start in 2013 with the feature film Jammed. He would go on to produce Empathy Inc. and well as work on commercials. His latest film he conceived with star/director Chris Roberti, the sci-fi assassin rom-com Same Boat makes its debut today on VOD and Digital from Dark Star Films.
WorldFilmGeek had the chance to talk to Itzkowitz about the film and its interesting concept in both story and filmmaking.
Josh, thank you so much for talking about Same Boat. I watched it this morning and I loved the concept, the story, the way it was filmed and the cast were all excellent.
Oh thank you so much! I appreciate hearing that!
What inspired you to come up with the idea for the film?
Well, there are two parts to it. The first was I wanted to see what it would be like to “hack” an indie film production. I thought of the idea a few years of wanting to do a film aboard a cruise ship. I mean you have the location set up already and let’s face it. When you’re on a cruise ship with the cast and crew, I mean catering services and accommodations are already provided (laughs).
The second part of it came from working with Chris Roberti. We worked together on my first film, Jammed. So, we did some brainstorming and we actually decided to go on a test cruise to see if we can get away with it. It was then that we came up with the idea of adding this sci-fi element of time travel to the film.
That’s amazing to hear. So, you actually shot incognito on an actual cruise with no one knowing but the cast and crew. How were you able to make that work?
It was quite a fun challenge. I mean, you’re based out of Florida. Have you been on one of the cruises?
I have to say I haven’t been on one of the big cruises yet.
Well, the thing with these cruises in Florida and Mexico is that there tends to be lots of people. I think the last thing they are worried about is shooting a movie there. I think the crew are more worried about people getting drunk and falling overboard. I mean we didn’t have to draw much attention and I also wanted to bring some of my friends who I worked with to get this movie made.
We had to figure out what cameras to use because we couldn’t go in there with big cameras (Laughs). So, we came up with working with cameras that people would take themselves on vacation. So, we shot the film mainly using DSLR cameras and we would go to our cabins to rehearse before going out on the decks to actually shoot the lines. It was quite fun to figure everything out and to get the cast onboard was a bit of a challenge, but I wanted to make sure I had good friends and a good cast to work with and it was such a fun shoot.
Speaking of the cast, they were great. Chris was funny as James. Tonya Glanz was so determined as Lilly. Evan Kaufman cracked me up as Rob and Julia Schonberg reminded me of Pamela Reed’s partner character in Kindergarten Cop (Laughs). What were they like on the set?
Everyone was so fun and genuine with their performances. I’ve worked with at least 2/3 of the cast on other projects before so there was this comfortable setting. Chris also directed and everyone was well-liked and respected. Evan, I’ve worked with before and he is such a funny guy! I loved the fact that he got to go unhinged on the film. When we would plan out his character, we tried things out where he acted normal, then let him go over the top when needed. He is such a funny guy.
As for Julia, she and Chris met in an acting class. So they’ve known each other for a while. This was actually her first film role and she did a great job. She was so good and was very likable on the set. Yeah, I think the cast was great.
Did you feel a sense of accomplishment in total with the film overall?
Well, yes and no. I mean for the most part, we all felt relieved we got the film completed. The major obstacle was that we shot on two cruises back-to-back, one with half the cast and the other one with the other half of the cast. We didn’t think we could pull it off, but we felt this big sense of accomplishment on the final day of the final cruise.
And that was another thing. We had planned to shoot the film in the same ship our test cruise was shot. However, shortly after, they swapped out ships, so we had a new location to work with. The problem was that there was music always playing. And that would be an issue. So, we had to do a lot of improvisation, trying to find at least two or three quiet spots. It was a bit of a time working on improvisation, but in the end, we got what we needed.
Would you try this idea of guerilla filmmaking again if given the chance?
Yes and No. The big no comes from it being too stressful and trying not to get caught (Laughs). However, the yes comes from the fact that it was like playing and having fun. I really wanted to think of it more than a film shoot, but a vacation with friends. It felt like a nice little adventure, even if we had to improvise on a few things.
Finally, are there any new projects in the works that you can talk about?
Well, after work on this film, I did direct a film called An Exquisite Meal. It was to have premiered at the same film festivals we premiered Same Boat, but with what’s going on now, it’s a bit hard to submit films to film festivals. But, I’m optimistic that it will be seen soon.
Other than that, I’m working with some old friends on some new projects and try my hardest to get a bt of a bigger budget. It will be quite interesting to see what comes out of it.
That’s great! Well, Same Boat is now available On Demand and Digital. Those looking for a fresh take on the rom-com with a very interesting concept of filmmaking will definitely want to see this! Josh, thank you again for talking about the film.
Thank you so much for having me. I hope everyone gets to see the film.
A Special Thank You goes to October Coast PR and Josh Itzkowitz for making this interview happen. For more on Josh, check out his official website.