I know the film was pitched as “Die Hard” at a destination wedding, which I think is apt. When you were approached for this project, which part intrigued you more? The “Die Hard” aspect of it, or the destination wedding aspect of it?
I think the “Die Hard” reference is — what was great about “Die Hard” is that it was action-y, but it was also funny. Bruce Willis was funny in that movie, and there was a bit of a romance in it. So I think people bring up that movie because I think there have only been a few movies that really fuse all those things together.
Even on the page in the original draft of “Shotgun Wedding,” there was great action and there was great comedy, and there was romance. Finding that balance and finding that tone felt like a fun challenge, but if we can get all of those things right, it will feel kind of different. It’s not really just a rom-com nor is it just an action movie. I think it has both. So the answer to your question really is kind of both. All those elements really made me intrigued and think it would be a fun challenge.
I believe this was your first time doing action sequences. Are there any parallels or things you took from doing the music montages in “Pitch Perfect” for those big action stunts?
Yeah, that was kind of my way in. I come from Broadway musicals and in “Pitch Perfect,” you can see that choreography is a lot like action. It has to be rehearsed, it has to be carefully planned so no one bumps into each other. It has to build, it has to have rhythm, and good choreography has story in it, and so does action. So when I would get nervous thinking about, “What do I do about some of the action in “Shotgun Wedding,” I started thinking about what would be funny next, or what would be a funny complication, or how do we take this up a notch, how do we make it louder? And that is more thinking like a musical.
When I would just think about that, I could sketch out ideas about how things could move. Then I had the ultimate stunt coordinator, a guy called Lee Morrison who does all the “James Bond” movies. So he knew how to translate those ideas and make them better, and also then do it safely.
That’s really interesting how the complexities of choreographing carries over.
Choreography, like action, has to be exactly the same every time. Every moment is planned. And that’s not true about acting, it’s not even true about singing, but for choreography and for action, it is. Because obviously action is very dangerous. And you want to get it physically in the right place, so you really have to rehearse and make sure it’s going to happen the way you want it.
I imagine one way it is different, though, is that you as a director behind the camera are probably in different environments or situations. What was that like for you to filming positions that might have been different than what you’ve done before?
I had a blast, and I love being in those unusual locations because you’re still trying to get the character and the comedy, and you can use those locations to do it. The people in the pool move differently in a pool. And with the zipline, if they’re not hanging right on it, they look crazy. So I had a blast. The only thing I was unhappy about is I never got to go on the zipline.
Oh, no! Well, you just have to go back.
Yeah, I couldn’t go there because the insurance for the movie wouldn’t let me.
Oh yeah, I can see that.
But I’m determined to go back to the Dominican Republic and get on one.