In “L!fe Happens,” two young women pull up in their car next to a couple of young men and invite them to a party. Before they can answer, a baby in the women’s back seat begins to cry, prompting the men to flee from the situation as fast as possible.
“That scene actually happened to me in real life,” said Kat Coiro, who directed and co-wrote the new comedy with star Krysten Ritter, during a recent interview with nextooze.com. “As a mother who wrote this script when my daughter was just 3 months old, I can say that a lot of the little details about being a harried and frazzled young mom are definitely very accurate.”
In “L!fe Happens,” which opens Friday, April 27 exclusively at Harkins Tempe Marketplace 16, Ritter plays a woman who, with the help of her girlfriends (Kate Bosworth and Rachel Bilson), must cope with single motherhood as she jumps back into the dating scene amid the fear that toting around a tot can be a dating “buzz-kill.”
“Krysten and I are old friends,” Coiro said. “We had always kicked around this idea of writing a female buddy comedy kind of in the vein of ‘Swingers,’ where the girls get to be bad. Then I had a baby and we decided that the perfect formula for something like this was girls who were not ready for that responsibility and the story was born.”
Coiro adds that “L!fe Happens” includes a lot of little moments, details and experiences from her own life. For example, she found herself changing her baby in the trunk of her car more than once and thought that the scene would make for an appropriate visual in her film. However, that that does not mean that the movie is the least bit exclusive to her.
“At the end of the day, what I enjoy about the movie when I see it is that … it really is a story that lives on its own,” explained Coiro, who has made several short films but, until now, not done anything with a feature length. “When I go back and look at it, I cannot tell what Krysten wrote, what I wrote or what came from real life. It really becomes its own story.”
Coiro noted that she is drawn to Ritter – both creatively and personally – because she sees that the actress shares her strong work ethic. In fact, the pair would often trade drafts of the “L!fe Happens” screenplay into the wee morning hours. Moreover, Coiro believes that Ritter has a unique charm that allows her to get away with bad behavior on the screen that most other actresses could not.
“I find Krysten to be so fascinating because when a role is right for her nobody else can do it,” Coiro said of the actress who is also the star of ABC’s new sitcom “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23,” which premiered the same week that “L!fe Happens” opened in limited release thereby working to one another’s advantage. “She has a very singular quality.”
Coiro rounded out the motion picture’s cast by reaching out Bosworth, whom starred in one of her shorts after the actress complained about never being considered for comedic roles, and Bilson, whom Ritter knew from her years as a supermodel. The filmmaker acknowledges that working with people who were essentially friends was incredibly beneficial.
“The most important thing that a director can have is trust from their actors,” Coiro explained. “So, working with people whom you have worked with before, who know that your project is going to be good is really helpful. That way, the actors feel relaxed and tend to give their best performances. And I have heard a lot about the performances in the film. I think that comes from the atmosphere on the set.”
And “L!fe Happens” is just the beginning for Coiro, whose sophomore feature-length effort – a drama titled “While We Were Here” – premiered at last weekend’s Tribeca Film Festival. In fact, she already has another project in post-production and one more in pre-production. Her experience making “L!fe Happens” helped Coiro not only gain the confidence of investors but also of herself.
“We shot for 17 days and I remember jumping into it and asking myself, ‘How am I going to pull this off?’” Coiro explained. “I did not know if I could do it but it went really smoothly. We made the movie for $600,000 and now it is opening in theaters across the country. I can confidently say that I know how to operate a set. And that is exciting.”
“L!fe Happens” (R – 100 minutes) opens Friday, April 27 exclusively at Harkins Tempe Marketplace 16. Visit FirstLook.com for specific showtimes.