Director Gillian Greene on comedy “Fanboy” and finding humor in everyday life

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Gillian Greene

Hollywood appears to be ground zero for #MeToo and #TimesUp which has opened the eyes of all and the doors for women, especially in creating director seats. While we still have a long way to go, one woman, Gillian Greene, who’s been a part of Hollywood her entire life, is seated comfortably in that director’s chair and released her short film “Fanboy” via Amazon on March 22. While the film was only meant to demonstrate her skills as a director to get work for feature films, Greene wanted to share this charming comedy about a South Carolina video store employee (Fran Kranz) who dreams of being in Sam Raimi’s sequel to “For Love of the Game” and tries his hand at the Hollywood scene.

The vivacious mother of five who’s husband is Sam Raimi (“Spider-Man”) and is the daughter of the beloved actor Lorne Greene (“Bonanza”) spoke with me recently about making “Fanboy,” her life, and what’s next. (Edited for length and clarity.)

PAMELA POWELL: I was a huge fan of your father’s work. What was that like to grow up with a famous father?

GILLIAN GREENE: I didn’t know any different. He got a lot of attention. He was revered [and] that always made me feel good. I felt really proud of him.

POWELL: With five kids, tell me about balancing work and home.

GREENE: I met Sam (Raimi) when I was really young and we started having kids right away. I was sort of his silent producing partner so I read all the scripts and went on location and watched all the dailies and [helped with] the casting. I brought my kids on set. That was easy when they were younger. I was there throughout the whole process of every movie so I learned a lot, but if the kids needed me I would be with them.

POWELL: You actually made this forty-minute short before your feature “Murder of a Cat.” What inspired you to make “Fanboy”?

GREENE: I made a short film for Sam (Raimi) and it was with all of his friends. It was a birthday roast and I thought this was so much fun! Then it inspired me to write the story … So ultimately, that (“Fanboy”) became my calling card for features. I don’t really need to release it [but] I had to watch it [again] and thought, “Damn! This is good!” (Laughing) Everyone really likes it and that’s why I’m releasing it now.

POWELL: Tell me about “Fanboy.”

GREENE: Fanboy’s based on a real person named Jeremiah Brennan. He’s an actor and he’s my friend’s boyfriend. He’s a really funny guy and he is that character and … I was going to cast him, but [he] didn’t find the humor. I had to fire the real Jeremiah! He didn’t talk to me for a year! I said I’ve got to do this for the movie. This is my movie and I’m so, so sorry!

POWELL: That must have been incredibly uncomfortable! I see that “Fanboy” is your story, but you have two writers who actually wrote the script. Tell me about collaborating with them.

GREENE: I wrote the story and I asked my friends, “Do you know any writers?” [They said,] “Yeah, my friends are writers!” I really liked them and they really liked me and my partner said, “Don’t you think we should really read something they wrote?” I [said] “No, I already know that I like them.” And I just had to say here’s what I want and then they put it in script form.

POWELL: “Fanboy” is funny from start to finish! You use a through line of comedy, especially “Waterworld.”

GREENE: There’s a better joke with “For Love of the Game.” There’s a sequel because the film was kind of a flop. The whole movie is sort of making fun of everyone. Every day I think I find humor in everything; even in tragedy [there is] levity and humor. I think that’s life.

POWELL: I see “Caterpillar” is your next feature to direct.

GREENE: It’s about a family, and the mother dies on the night of Halloween and she’s made a costume, a caterpillar costume for her son [who] puts on his caterpillar costume that she made him and he won’t take it off. It’s about how everybody deals with that and this script has a lot of humor in it, too. It sounds really dark, but it’s ultimately about hope and transformation and [it’s] uplifting.

POWELL: As you’ve been immersed in this film industry your entire life, do you see things changing for women?

GREENE: I think the whole #MeToo movement really needed to happen and I think we are being heard right now and we are being given more opportunities. It’s a really great climate right now for women.

Greene is also producing several films which are currently in preproduction, but you can see her calling card, “Fanboy,” right now on Amazon.

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