Now out on VOD, Fully Realized Humans centers on soon to be parents Jackie (Jess Weixler) and Elliott (Joshua Leonard) who decide to spend the next month trying to be self-actualized individuals. Weixler and Leonard co-wrote the film (which Leonard directed), and it’s a first rate comedy that also has a refreshing amount of resonance. Weixler and Leonard talked to Deepest Dream about their latest collaboration (they previously worked together on The Lie).
Along with the undeniable chemistry between close friends Jess Weixler and Joshua Leonard, Fully Realized Humans also features solid work from co-stars Beth Grant, Tom Bower, and Michael Chieffo (they play the parents of Jackie and Elliott).
During the interview I asked Weixler and Leonard about the amazing and triggering hummus scene from the narrative’s first act. Weixler also discussed why making this movie actually enhanced her pregnancy, and since I’m a crypto enthusiast I threw in a question about non-fungible tokens (NFTs). With Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis delving into the NFT world with Stoner Cats, content creation in the crypto space is not a pie in the sky concept.
To listen to my podcast interview with Fully Realized Humans collaborators Jess Weixler and Joshua Leonard, check out CinemAddicts:
Was doing this movie a sneaky way of simply getting to work with such great actors as Beth Grant and Tom Bower?
Weixler: We begged them somewhere in the middle. The ball was rolling and we thought, ‘these guys are great, how lucky would we be if they played our parents?’ Anything to add Josh?
Leonard: I feel the same way and I don’t want to exclude Michael Chieffo from that mix as well. Beth, Michael, and Tom are such astonishing and stalwart actors.
The film came together very quickly and we worked on an extended scriptment. There wasn’t any dialogue for any of the scenes much less that last scene. But knowing in the shape and the structure that we created for this film, that ostensibly not only the last scene but the final act was going to be this showdown with the parents, we knew how much pressure there was finding really formidable actors to cast in those roles.
Weixler: It was also the hardest scene to shoot by far.
Leonard: In a run and gun indie absolutely. Introducing another three people in a scene and trying to get their coverage in an improvised movie where nobody is saying the same thing from take to take and making sure it gets covered was tricky. I really do think we could not have been more fortunate to wind up with the three actors that we did.
The film kind of lives and dies on the final act of the movie, and they really brought it. That said, from the original inception of the concept, my main motivation to convince my friend Jess Weixler to chase ducks while holding a dildo while eight months pregnant so that was really a greater motivation that the parents’ scene.
Weixler: Greater than Beth Grant and Tom Bower and Michael Chieffo?? (laughs)
Leonard: Just by a hair.
As much as I love the hilarious hummus scene in your film, now I don’t think I can actually touch the stuff for a while.
Weixler: I love that it cut you off from hummus for a little while. Was it the gagging? Was it the reduced palatte too?
It was everything, and I always thought it was okay to have more than one hummus in the fridge until your movie came along.
Weixler: You’re never going to get through it. You’re never going to get through that much hummus. That scene I will let Josh take this question. Am I allowed to say you pulled it out of your life?
Leonard: Yeah. I would say there there’s about 60% verbatim dialogue that came out of my own household when my wife was very pregnant.
She did get exceedingly angry with me one day for having bought a second hummus. It’s funny because it seems so ridiculous on the page and it’s turned out to be such a relatable scene for audiences.
We’ve had people say ‘I’ve had the exact same fight with my partner.’ Which has also made me feel less alone in the world.
This movie has a lot of laughs, but it’s also about the sacrifice one makes when becoming a parent. Was exploring the complexities of unconditional love a driving factor in making this film?
Weixler: I know for me I just related to the overwhelming anxiety of what it was going to take to love somebody unconditionally and actually pass on all of my behavior to my child.
At first when Josh came to me saying ‘let’s make a movie while you’re eight months pregnant,’ I thought this was going to make me worse. I already have a high blood cell count, I need to chill. But it was the opposite.
Actually having a place to exorcise the demons with a friend in such a loving, fun way totally relaxed and just helped me hash out and prepare for being a mother myself.
You know obviously you’re never going to be prepared or ready but the most you can hope for is you chased a few ducks with dildos before getting to that step. I became much more relaxed making this film and ready for the next step.
I do a brief review of Fully Realized Humans on the latest episode of Find Your Film (53:16 mark):
Does this movie and your previous collaboration The Lie have a through line?
Leonard: There are certainly similar themes between the two and one that I keep coming back to in my creative life. The funny thing about The Lie, in hindsight, there are a few Easter eggs in there for anybody who happens to have seen the two movies. We definitely snuck a wardrobe piece or two from one movie into the other as a subtle nod.
What’s funny about The Lie is in many ways, to me at least, Fully Realized Humans is a more ridiculous but more honest portrayal of that time in a person’s life. We made The Lie about a couple who recently had a baby and were facing the identity crisis that brought up years before Jess and I respectively had found our life partners or had seriously considered getting pregnant. There is a little role playing in that which felt honest at the time but then once you start having a family of your own and coping with the reality of the existential anxiety that comes with it, we were able to channel that into this one.
Weixler: We could just shoot into the depths faster. We could just shoot right to the core (laughs).
Leonard: In some ways this was a more emotionally fortified prequel to the film we made 10 years ago.
Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher recently got into the NFT space with Stoner Cats. Do you see NFTs as another avenue for content creation in the Film & TV space?
Weixler: I’ve heard a lot of people talking about NFTs with visual art. I don’t totally get it, but I also wasn’t on board with Bitcoin and look at it go. Clearly there is something about the market that responds to the NFT.
Will you explain to me?
For example, if there are fans of Fully Realized Humans or some of your other work they can keep it on their digital wallet and they own it. Maybe down the line they can flip it or they can have it for posterity.
It won’t be something on the wall, but something they can show their friends. For example, they can say ‘I really loved The Lie and Leonard just released an NFT commemorating its 10-year anniversary.’ That kind of stuff.
Leonard: Honestly Greg, I’m just like Jess in the sense that it is all a little bit above my head but what I do know is that it’s another way that is putting control of the art in the hands of the artist. And that’s something I am always supportive of. The more we can get rid of all the middle people in between artist and audience, the better an experience we may be able to have as both artists and as art appreciators.
I’m down with it. I still have a lot to learn though.
Thank you guys for your time! Both of you are way smarter than me, so learning about NFTs will be easy. No need to worry!
Weixler (laughs): Thank you for the faith!
Leonard: Thank you!
Fully Realized Humans is now available on VOD, and I’d love to hear your thoughts once you see the movie!
FULLY REALIZED HUMANS | Linktree all the ways to watch! Aaaaooooo https://t.co/DcVqVIceQ0— Jess Weixler (@jess_weixler) July 30, 2021