You may recognize actress Laura Seay from projects such as Superbad, in which she starred opposite Emma Stone and series such as Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Pure Genius, NCIS and NCIS: New Orleans. Her most recent project, the short film The Coupon, was released this week on Vimeo and stars Micah Cohen (Shameless, Grey’s Anatomy) and Adam Harrington (Bosch, The Little Things). Not only did Laura star in The Coupon, but she also directed the short with a script written by Micah Cohen. Matthew Mullen and Micah Cohen of BabyBird Worldwide produced the film.
The Coupon’s official synopsis reads: A woman finds herself embroiled in a Kafkaesque legal nightmare when her husband gives away the cutesy romantic coupon she made for him to a stranger, and that stranger shows up on her doorstep demanding she honor it. Audiences may soon be seeing more from the filmmakers; The Coupon also serves as the pilot episode for a Black-Mirror-esque comedy series that Micah and Laura are currently developing with Ian Easton of Dr Chorizo Productions. We wanted to learn more about The Coupon, so we spoke to Laura below about many topics including making the jump from acting to directing, Adam Harrington being the perfect villain and what she is working on next. Read the exclusive interview here:
You have starred in projects such as Superbad and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. What made you want to direct The Coupon?
I began directing seven years ago, with my first short film SPEAK. In addition to working on my own scripts, I’ve really enjoyed taking on pieces written by other folks. Especially brilliant folks. Micah Cohen is one of those people. His script for The Coupon was not only hilarious but full of satire and potential symbolism. I missed seeing surrealist comedy and thought this to be an opportunity in paying homage to that genre.
What did preproduction look like for you on The Coupon?
A little chaotic as we did a quick turnaround, but tons of fun. I worked closely with our wardrobe stylist Alex Nelson to bring emotive tones to each character. For example, the role of Terrence played by Adam Harrington, wore pale yellow and somewhat dated clothes to imbue an odd, unstable, and out of touch quality. We did a table read through zoom and I storyboarded extensively, so we could move fast during production as this was only a three-day shoot. I ordered craft kits on Etsy to make the coupon books so this tawdry thing would look as cutesy as possible.
What sort of discussions did you have with the film’s writer, Micah Cohen, about bringing the page to screen?
We wanted to play with themes of bureaucracy and big corporations hurting the little guy. Especially women and decisions about sexuality and physical autonomy. We wanted the tone to feel, look, and sound like a drama. To play the ridiculous circumstances completely straight, so that the audience feels like they’re going crazy right alongside the lead characters.
Not only did you direct The Coupon, you also star in it. What was the key to juggling both these roles?
It was challenging but a lot of fun. The key in any production for me is thorough preparation. Even more so when you’re both behind and on camera. Also, have a fantastic cast and crew around you. They’ll make you look good.
What first sparked your interest in moving from acting to directing?
I think I’d always been directing in my head but hadn’t realized it. My first attempt was because a script I’d written was so personal to me, I didn’t think it right to put it anyone else’s hands. But through that project, I realized how much I love crafting a story on levels beyond just performance. I was hooked. Directing feels holistic.
What scene was the most challenging for you to film in The Coupon?
The ending negotiation scene at the table was a real meal, as most table scenes are. A lot of coverage and angles there. But we got through it with flying colors thanks to our masterful DP John Orphan.
What did actress Laura bring to the director Laura table?
I have an effective short-hand with actors as I am one. This gives me a lot of flexibility when directing and performing opposite the rest of the cast. I’m always going for honesty when I’m taking on a role. The goal is the same in directing. Say something that is true.
Adam Harrington plays the perfect villain. How did you get him to sign on to the project?
I met Adam many years ago in an acting class. He has since become an acting teacher himself in addition to having a prolific on-screen career. He’s a master. He did me the honor of coming on to this project. I was thrilled as I knew he would elevate the entire project with his skill.
The Coupon serves as a pilot episode for a Black-Mirror-esque comedy series that you and Micah are currently developing. If there was to be a full-length series, where would you see it going, story wise?
Our series is called Gaslight Junction. Each episode will be stand-alone short film in the horror, thriller or sci-fi genre. Each one takes the audience on a journey through a new twisted scenario. It’s comedy played as drama. Imagine if Key & Peele and The Twilight Zone had a dumb baby. That’s the vibe.
What are you working on next?
In addition to Gaslight, I’m developing an indie feature based on my short film SPEAK. I also have an unscripted dance documentary series in the works for 2022.
You can watch The Coupon here: