New film “Fresno” is a comedy that revolves around a co-dependent sister relationship, one a sex addict and the other a lonely lesbian, who work in Fresno as hotel maids.
After accidently killing one of the guests, the sisters Martha and Shannon, played by Natasha Lyonne (“Orange Is the New Black”) and Judy Greer (“The Descendants”), go to extreme lengths to cover the crime up.
Aubrey Plaza (“Parks and Recreation”), Fred Armisen (“Portlandia”) and Molly Shannon (“SNL”) also star.
Although the film is not available yet to most theaters, it recently premiered at this weekend’s South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas.
“Fresno” director Jamie Babbit has directed TV shows such as “Girls” and “The L Word” and films such as “The Quiet” and “Breaking the Girls.”
Babbit recently talked about the indie comedy and its offbeat familial story in a Q&A with The Collegian.
How did this comedy come about? I understand that the talented writer Karey Dornetto wrote it, but what enticed you to jump on it as a director?
Karey and I developed the comedy together, so I knew from the beginning stages that I would be directing. In making this film, we combined our two pasts.
My mom ran a rehab in Cleveland, and my grandmother was a sex addict. Karey has an ongoing enmeshed relationship with her bipolar sister and has spent a lifetime in therapy trying to disentangle from her.
We loved the idea of making a comedy examining how families enable each other to continue destructive patterns and, ultimately, how some family members must separate in order to grow.
How did you become involved with Gamechanger Films?
When we were looking for financiers, we had a meeting with Gamechanger. They are such a cool company that only produces movies directed by women.
“Fresno” was a great fit for Gamechanger, being directed, written and produced by women.
What are the plans for distribution for “Fresno”?
We are premiering at South By Southwest this weekend, so we will see how that goes and work from there.
What was it like working with a great cast like Natasha Lyonne, Judy Greer, Fred Armisen and so on?
The cast was great. I worked with Natasha Lyonne 15 years ago on my film “But I’m a Cheerleader.” Natasha brings spot-on comedic timing and true vulnerability to all of her roles. We developed the part of Martha for her early on, and Natasha was key in pushing the project forward.
I’ve worked with Judy Greer on her FX television show “Married,” and I knew she’d be a perfect comedic foil for Natasha. Judy has such a likable nuttiness and depth.
What are some of your other upcoming projects? Are they in the comedy genre or are you delving into something different?
Right now I am directing and co-executive producing the show “Married” for FX, starring Judy Greer and Nat Faxton. Karey and I are also developing another comedy that I plan to direct.