“Same Boat” is a new movie by comedian and actor Chris Roberti. Based in Brooklyn, Chris the director and star of the clever new romantic-comedy ‘’Same Boat’’ – released by Dark Star Pictures on VOD next Tuesday. The film, which was secretly filmed on a cruise ship, tells of a time-traveling assassin who falls for his next target.
Chris Roberti, whose other credits include “High Maintenance” and “How to Follow Strangers”, tells us how the film came together, how he managed to film it covertly on a cruise, and how he’s keeping busy during the Coronavirus lockdown.
Meagan Meehan (MM): I’d like to congratulate you on not only the film – but sneaking onto a cruise and filming it covertly! How did you manage that!?
Chris Roberti (CR): Thanks so much! Josh Itzkowitz had the idea to make a film on a cruise ship because you’d get huge production value and not have to worry about lodging or craft services. We used a Sony A7Sii – so we didn’t need lights, and we used davs that recorded directly into their pack so there was no trouble with interference – again, most of these ingenious plans were devised by Josh, who is a genius. And our DP, Darin Quan worked fast and made it look beautiful.
MM: Who knew that you were shooting a film and who didn’t?
CR: Well, the crew and most of the cast knew. We were super stealthy. We took the same four-day cruise back to back and at the start of the second week Josh’s steward came up to him and said “Josh… You came back!” I wrongly assumed that no one would remember us, but the folks who work on these boats are so kind and attentive. But no one suspected or cared what we were doing, it seemed.
MM: Did you always intend on shooting on a real cruise or was there a time you considered just faking it?
CR: We originally wrote a script that was a zany farce, and it would have demanded huge set pieces in dining rooms, and chases – it would have been impossible to do that on a boat. For about half a second, we thought about taking a cruise, and then recreating the rooms or shooting in a hotel. But it wouldn’t have worked or looked authentic.
MM: Was it always written into the script that the film was set on a cruise?
CR: Yes. The seed of the idea was “make a movie on a cruise” everything else came after.
MM: How many drafts did you do of the flick? Did it change much over the course of the drafts?
CR: Like I said there were basically two different films: the first was a heist comedy, and when we took a test cruise we quickly realized we could definitely make a film on a boat, but not that film, so we scrapped the first idea and landed on time traveling assassins.
MM: How did that initial draft differ to the shooting script?
CR: Once we settled on the new story idea, there weren’t any major alterations aside from the death scene. We thought about doing something in Mexico, a chase on scooters, or some showdown at this abandoned structure we found during a scout, but we ultimately said, let’s have everyone die at breakfast on the ship. Much easier.
MM: Did your lead character, our time-traveling assassin, evolve over the course of the drafts?
CR: Not much. I think the character who changed the most was Mot played by Julia Schoenberg. Julia is a fantastic actor and a good friend. Initially she was a big bad guy – an enforcer, but I like stories when everyone is on the same side as much as possible, and I liked the idea that James has a partner to take care of and/or betray. So, we made her into his eager intern.
MM: How important is it that he remains likeable, you think?
CR: Not important at all. I think it’s important for all my characters to be relatable and understandable – but likeability is less of a concern.
MM: Was it hard wearing so many hats on the film? Would you juggle so many, again?
CR: Maybe for a better actor, writer, or director it would have been hard. But one of my motto’s is better to be finished than good. I like working fast and we shot about 90 pages in 7 days, so we couldn’t be precious. And the guy who got it finished is Josh Itzkowitz. He’s an incredible producer and I can’t believe all the work he put into it.
MM: How are you keeping busy during the coronavirus outbreak?
CR: I’m at my in-laws house with my wife and daughter. Taking care of the family. I have very little free time, but I try to write for about 15 minutes each day. I’m playing Stardew Valley and I love it. I’m also hoping to build a series of planter/benches outside.