Jayme Karales is the author of the novel Disorderly and the limited-run comic book series The Extractor. In 2013 he was named editor-in-chief of the popular literary press ThatLitSite.com. Practice Makes Perfect is his directorial debut.
Loren Kleinman (LK): Practice Makes Perfect is about Paul Brokovich (Michael Malkiewicz), an English teacher by day and a stand-up comedian by night. He tests his comedy on his students before his acts. However, his desire to be a comic distracts him from his full-time job. First, I can relate. Second, truth on your behalf? How did you come up with the idea? What's the film's message?
Jayme Karales (JK): I wish I could give you a concrete answer as to where the idea came from, but honestly I have no clue. I think it was an amalgamation of concepts that struck me one day in 2011 or 2012. I thought to myself, "Hmm, you know that could make for a really hacky sitcom -- but one with a strong first season." Fast forward two or three years later and, bored of both working on manuscripts and my podcast, I decided to revisit the idea and rework it as a feature length film.
To answer your initial question, though, "truth on my behalf"; somewhat, yes. Granted, I've never taught professionally and I've only performed stand-up once, but I think we can all relate to working one job to stay afloat while dreaming of doing something else entirely.
With Practice Makes Perfect, what I wanted to get across was that unless you're willing to commit yourself to doing something you love, you're not going to achieve what it is you want out of life. You can't half-ass two things and expect success.
LK: I feel like this is a movie that so many artists can relate to. I mean, we're working full-time jobs and secretly fantasizing about when we can work. Or, perhaps, our full-time jobs are material for our work. Are you secretly fantasizing or living the dream?
JK: Exactly. I think I'm living the dream. I'm 24 years old and I've done almost everything I've ever wanted to do in life. I wrote a novel (Disorderly), I created a comic book series (The Extractor) with one of my favorite artists -- Joel Amat Güell, I directed a movie, founded a fairly popular press (ThatLitSite.com), and I host a podcast that people seem to like... All I need to do is write and direct a Batman movie and that's it, my bucket list is complete.
LK: You made the movie for $10K. Can you talk about budgeting for this movie? What was the most difficult part? What was the most rewarding?
JK: Well, the entire cast and crew worked for free -- because they're amazing people. So the $10k was divided between: equipment, transportation, housing, wardrobe, props, insurance, and locking down locations.
The most difficult part, bar none, was finding a school to shoot at. This isn't an exaggeration; I called 109 schools personally and landed two that were willing to let us film. And we only nailed the location 24 hours before production began because the school we'd originally rented opted to back out when they realized that this was a commercial feature. It was a mess, but somehow we made it work.
The most rewarding part of production was getting to know some genuinely great and talented people on set. Guys like Mike Malkiewicz and Alex Hand in particular are on a whole other level when it comes to acting and I'm really grateful to have gotten the chance to work with both of them. My assistant director Zach Benard -- one of the nicest guys I've ever met and a real technical wiz behind the camera. They were all great to work with.
LK: You also star in the film. Can you talk about your role and how it related to your own life?
JK: Max is Paul's best friend, and he's someone who seems to have it all together. Unlike Paul he loves teaching, he enjoys his life, and he's an emotionally developed adult. I would say I relate to Max to an extent -- but only by default, because Paul as a character is a complete mess. They are two sides of the same coin, though, in that nobody's ever really content with themselves -- but everyone has a different way of dealing with that.
I've never had a role this "meaty" before. Prior to Practice Makes Perfect, my resume consisted of voiceover work and short films. It was really enjoyable to slip into that character in a larger production and act alongside Malkiewicz.
LK: What's it like working with Michael Malkiewicz? I hear he's into alt lit? Does that get in the way of your professional relationship?
JK: Oh, he's going to love that you threw that out there. I usually bite my tongue when it comes to his adoration for "alt lit"...
Mike and I had our ups and downs. We had two shoots -- a primary one and a reshoot. The first shoot felt like the movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles with Steve Martin and John Candy. He's very outgoing, very boisterous. Always on 24/7. I'm much more reserved. Under all that stress, especially, I think we clashed a little -- but it never got heated. The second shoot went a lot smoother. There was less on the line, so we were able to relax and take a break from wanting to murder each other.
You know, I respect Mike a great deal as a comic, as an actor, and as a friend. This collaboration exemplifies something really unique that was created between us and the other members of the cast and crew. Mike's gripping and hilarious in this movie, and could very easily have an impressive body of work ahead of him. Given the opportunity, I would love to work with him again but I think he's going to focus on stand-up for a while.
Watch the trailer for Practice Makes Perfect: