David_Berenbaum_Elf

This week on the Otherppl with Brad Listi podcast, a conversation with David Berenbaum, a screenwriter whose credits include the Christmas classic Elf, directed by Jon Favreau and starring Will Ferrell.

Get the free Otherppl app.

Listen via iTunes.

Support the show at Patreon.

Get Brad Listi’s sporadic email newsletter.

Byrkit colored

Please explain what just happened.

You just walked in. A Question Robot with an attitude. Hello.

 

What is your earliest memory?

Not my earliest, but when I was five, I pushed a tin can deep into a huge barrel of duck feed, specifically as an act to remember forever.

Darci Picoult headshotPlease explain what just happened.

I heard children playing outside and a classical piano playing next door. Now there is a horn beeping. A man laughing. Life.

 

What is your earliest memory?

Seeing a lion on the wall of my bedroom and screaming for my brother to kill it. He made it vanish (with his fist? mind? a combo of both? don’t remember) and I thought he was a hero. Still do. A few years later I yelled to my sister that a cow was outside my window. She didn’t believe me until she looked and alas, saw it too. It wandered up the road from a nearby farm. We both had a hard time getting it to leave. Called the police who thought we were drunk and at a bar. “A cow outside your window?” I was maybe 12 years old. Finally the owner came and wooed the cow back to pasture

epperson-0105Please explain what happened.

A dog barked down the street. The tree in front of my window was flooded with early-morning sunlight. The flow of life on our beautiful planet continued.

 

What is your earliest memory?

I was trying to climb up on the back of our car and it was slick with rain and I slipped and gashed my knee on the bumper. Bled like a son of a bitch. Still got the scar. Want to see it?

At some point in Hello I Must Be Going, Amy (Melanie Lynskey) trips on a beach and asks, splayed flat on the rocky shore, “where the motherfucking fuck is motherfucking bottom!”  In the aftermath of a surprise divorce, she’s moved back into her parent’s house, and in the way of their home renovations and retirement plans, when she begins a fling with a younger man (played by Girls’ Christopher Abbott).  And it’s Amy’s seemingly bottomless, endless sense of stasis that director Todd Louiso and screenwriter Sarah Koskoff navigate with such care … and a little humor.  I recently spoke with Louiso and Koskoff via phone about Hello I Must Be Going, the cast, the Marx Brothers, and defying the status quo (and the weather) to create a candid, female-centric film.

 

Please explain what just happened.

The psycho-killer crack-head downstairs just finished screaming and slamming his apartment door repeatedly.

 

What is your earliest memory?

Me and my cousin Brian not being able to finish a puzzle in kindergarten before it was time to go home. So we just piled all the pieces on the board and returned it to where the puzzles were supposed to go. But we got caught and had to stay and finish it.

 

If you weren’t a writer, director, producer, and composer, what other profession would you choose?

Husbandry— 1) the management and conservation of resources; 2) the care and cultivation of crops (including trees). I think I’m ready. I like a well tended forest.

Please explain what just happened.

The more I know, the more I realize I have no idea. What happened? Who cares really. Where am I now, and where can I get a good cup of coffee.

 

What is your earliest memory?

I remember being a monk who made beer in an abbey in France. I’m pretty sure I flogged the shit out of myself for no good reason. And the personal attaché for a power hungry cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. Or was the earliest memory waking into consciousness as a protozoa in a murky tide pool. I’m sorry, I’m still sleepy. I think my earliest memory—in this life anyway—is holding on to the tall boot of my father as he walked across a snowy driveway, dragging me along, watching the dry snow spray up, feeling the cold flakes melt on my hot cheeks, listening to him whistle some Randy Newman song.

Please explain what just happened.

It’s interesting that that’s your opening question. That’s actually Larry King’s traditional closing question although with Larry I sense he genuinely wants to know.