Director Jamie Travis dials up the sex in For a Good Time, Call…
It’s hard to imagine Vancouver-born director Jamie Travis as anything but a filmmaker, but this was not always so.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I dropped out of UBC, where I was a biochemistry major,” he tells the Georgia Straight via Skype from Dallas, Texas, the latest stop on a U.S. promotional tour for his first feature, For a Good Time, Call…. “I did the most clichéd thing possible,” he says. “I went to Europe. And when I came back, I guess I’d had some clarification on what I wanted to do, and I thought about what really made me happy throughout my whole life, and that was film.”
Since completing his first short as part of his application to the UBC film program, Travis has made a name for himself as a precise, intelligent, and imaginative director of short art films. Six of his seven shorts premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (in the city he now calls home) and have played festivals and won awards around the world.
For those who have watched his career with interest (but perhaps not his friends, who know his sense of humour and love of being surrounded by strong women), it may come as a shock that his first feature is what he calls “a phone-sex comedy”, as though it’s a genre unto itself.
On the surface, For a Good Time, Call… (which opens in Vancouver on Friday [September 7]) is raunchy—really raunchy. It’s shocking to hear such dirty words come out of pretty girls’ mouths. Written by college roommates Lauren Miller (who’s married to Seth Rogen) and Katie Anne Naylon, this is a touching tale of two college enemies who become best friends after starting a phone-sex line to make ends meet in New York City.
It’s also funny. At the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it premiered to a packed house of jaded industry types, the laughter was so loud at times that Travis later lamented the jokes were missed because of the laughing.
“The spirit of this film and the reason I wanted to make it is that it’s about fun,” he says. “And while that sounds trivial—and that’s never been the aim of any of my short films—this film is about fun, and it’s funny, and it’s about engaging the audience. It’s not a complicated audience-character relationship.”
For a Good Time, Call… made its first headlines at Sundance when it was picked up by Focus Features—a dream for any indie—and since then it’s been quite a ride for the young director, especially with a splashy premiere in New York.
“It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced,” Travis recalls. “I mean, I’ve done red carpets at Sundance and film festivals, but nothing to the extent of this. I was standing there with, I don’t know, 30 photographers all calling my name: look left, look right, look down; I was totally shell-shocked, a deer in the headlights.”
But not for long. Although he made the move to Toronto four years ago, Travis’s next move is back to the West Coast, albeit a little lower down on the map. “I feel really inspired by Los Angeles and, you know, I’ve made so many great friends there making this film. Los Angeles just is the place where I need to be right now.”
Watch the trailer for For a Good Time, Call….