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.
1BR, released earlier this year, is currently one of the top films on Netflix. 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 both Sarah and the poor 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 spoke to us on the MovieMaker Interviews 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: The production 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 currently has an 86 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
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.
Marmor 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.
Oh: Mishra and Marmor stress that they both love cats.
1BR, starring Nicole Brydon Bloom, Giles Matthey and Taylor Nichols, is written and directed by David Marmor and is now available on Netflix. We recommend not watching it alone at night in a 1BR. This story was originally published when 1BR was released on-demand and has been updated since its Netflix release.