“Create a six-minute short about our globalized economy and make it entertaining enough to engage your typical non-economy-oriented audience? Okay. I like challenges. The first thought that popped into my head was to interview a cross section of learned experts on the subject, and then create an archetypal American family to unwittingly ‘act out’ the consequences of our experts' ideas and philosophies. Well, actually, my first thought was to create an archetypal American family, and an archetypal Chinese family and an archetypal family in India. But how many archetypal people can you squish into one six-minute film? So I decided to put all my eggs in one archetypical American family basket.
I looked for the experts first, and was lucky enough to locate seven prominent and passionate scholars all willing to play along with our experiment. A week after I did their interviews, I sat down with five funny friends skilled in improvisation, and assigned them what I figured were universal characteristics: Dad was interested in making a living. Period. Son's primary goal was to drive his sister crazy. Sister was obsessed with the opposite sex. Mom was interested in trying to get her unruly family through dinner without a fight. And Gramma was clueless.
Before I filmed our family members, I reviewed our experts' footage and quickly realized that they were so erudite, so knowledgeable and so scholarly, that the sillier I made our family, the more contrast they'd provide with our determinedly non-silly experts, and the greater the chances of maybe getting a laugh or two. And keeping our audience awake. And how can you learn anything about anything if you're not awake? The real challenge was confining the movie to less than seven minutes. Experts don't speak in sound bites. And funny improvisors don't necessarily get to the point quickly. But finally we slashed away, located a through line, and shuffled our funny and learned populations together, added music and sound effects, and came up with something we hope will both educate and entertain. But only time and the ears of eyes of our audience will tell.”
BOB BALABAN created, produced and starred in the Academy Award-winning movie “Gosford Park,” produced and directed the HBO movie “Bernard and Doris,” starring Susan Sarandon and Ralph Fiennes, which was nominated for ten Emmys, three Golden Globes, and two SAG awards. He produced and directed the award winning hit Off-Broadway play, “The Exonerated.” He has directed over thirty television episodes, both hour and half-hour, as well as four pilots and a number of television commercials. As an actor, he has appeared in nearly a hundred movies, most recently “The Monuments Men,” starring George Clooney, and Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” He will appear on Broadway this fall in Edward Albee’s “A Delicate Balance.”