The late screenwriter Blake Snyder famously originated a concept called Save the Cat! to describe the moment when a film’s protagonist wins viewers over — when he or she saves a cat, for example. The creators of the new horror film 1BR are well-aware of the Save the Cat concept, and rejected it in almost every way possible.
If you’ve seen the trailer for 1BR, (and if not, a minor spoiler ensues) you know that it’s about a young woman named Sarah (Nicole Brydon Bloom) who moves into a new apartment complex with extremely strict rules. She sneaks in a cat, in defiance of a no-pet policy, and the punishment is harsh — for Sarah and the cat. From there, things spin out, as they often do when neighbors band together in pursuit of utopia.
1BR writer-director David Marmor and producer Alok Mishra join us for the latest MovieMaker Interviews to talk about, among other things, why they rejected Save the Cat so strongly. You can listen on Spotify or right here, by clicking the arrow:
As they explain, the making of 1BR was anything but utopian: It was bedeviled by fire, losing a lead actress, a stolen truck, and COVID-19 cutting into its release plans. Still, it’s doing well with critics and audiences, and you can watch it on-demand now.
Mishra talks about how his experience in film marketing helped Marmor and the producers decide how to handle the cat-related violence — and how to end the film. (Mishra and Marmor stress that they both love cats.)
And Marmor also talks why he prefers David Mamet’s advice about screenwriting to Blake Snyder’s. He cites a memo by Mamet in which he argued that the purpose of a scene is to make the audience want to see the next scene.
Marmor and Mishra also talk about how they enlisted Taylor Nichols, a veteran of the Whit Stillman masterpieces Metropolitan, Barcelona, Last Days of Disco and Damsels in Distress, to play a villain.
“You should always go to parties, and you should always go up and try to talk to people at parties,” Mishra explains.
1BR, starring Nicole Brydon Bloom, Giles Matthey and Taylor Nichols, is written and directed by David Marmor and is now available on-demand. We recommend not watching it alone at night in a 1BR.