A Bar Mitzvah boy`s obsession with Woody Allen sends his mother to desperate measures before the big day arrives..
Call Me Alvy began when I wanted to write a short film based on my perception of what being Jewish means to me. I no longer actively practice the religion in synagogue and so forth, though I never eat pork or shellfish and still love Jewish cooking; one of many strange habits that traditions enshrined at an early age will affect that do not necessarily make a lot sense if you stop and reflect. What will never change is the gravitational pull that Jewish humour and comedians have over me from Mel Brooks to Sarah Silverman and Amy Schumer, Woody Allen to Larry David and everyone in between as well as the generations of Jewish and (non Jewish) comics and by extension the culture and films that they have undoubtedly influenced.
Whilst family and history is also important to me of course, it is this in-built reference to Jewish comedy and its relatability that still grabs me. Notable amongst them all is Woody Allen who has shaped comedy for half a century. Watching Annie Hall at university left an indelible mark on my psyche and so when I addressed Jewishness in this film a scene in Annie Hall inevitably poured out of me. I went on to develop the narrative and whilst bringing the characters and setting to a modern day I worked with the production team to portray the sets with a colour and style which was also a throw back to 70s heyday Woody Allen.
I was thrilled when two of the leading comedy actors in the UK agreed to do the film; Tracy Ann Oberman and Kevin Eldon. Tracy Ann is a huge Woody Allen fan and being Jewish also had an inherent understanding of what I wanted to achieve from the outset. The pair of them did not disappoint and brought wonderful personality to the roles I had written that effectively formed a triangle, with mother pulling away from Brian`s Woody persona whilst the doctor tacitly encouraged it.
The two biggest challenges for me were giving young Adam Bregman the confidence to play a pseudo Woody Allen and he grew into the part, improving at each rehearsal and finally bringing a great energy to the final scene; which was the other big challenge in the shooting of it to effectively recreate a New York comedy club. We shot it on location in the very same synagogue where we shot the Bar Mitzvah scenes earlier in the day. I was overjoyed with the production design of the scene and am thoroughly looking forward to presenting the film to people very soon.