Friday 22 May 2020

Interview with Jorgy Cruz - Director of Funny Pains

Jorgy Cruz’s “Funny Pains” follows stand-up comedian Wendi Starling, whose career, working process and life are closely examined in the film, as she navigates one of the entertainment’s toughest, most competitive professions - all during the height of the #MeToo movement, feminism, and the infiltration of stand-up comedy by the politically correct. Above all else, the film delves into serious issues of sexual assault and mental health, with Starling revealing her not-so-private personal traumas. 

Tell us when and how you came upon the idea for the film, sir? 
I kinda didn't, it just happened. I went to a bar my wife used to work at in midtown Manhattan and she told me about a comedy show they were having on a Saturday night and she was in charge of the event. I did not want to go, but she convinced me to attend. I was sitting at the bar chatting with my wife while comics did their thing and then all of the sudden this woman shows up looking like she hasn't slept in a while, she says hi and orders a glass of water. She seemed exhausted, and I asked her "are you ok?", to what she replied, "I went hard yesterday, I'm dying". Right there and then a comic named Manny Rondon introduces Wendi Starling to the stage, she put down the water and said "I'll be right back", Wendi hit the stage and she was full of energy, big smile and totally killed with a material so raw, so unique and personal that I was completely hypnotized and convinced I was in the presence of a special artist. Once her set was done she went downstairs to smoke a cigarette and out of the blue, I asked her if I could meet with her with a camera and shoot for a day. That day turned into years.

Were any of the names attached to the project before filming? 
No. After we shot I started editing and I remember talking to Krystyna Hutchinson, she starts in the film since she's a close friend to Wendi and they also have a monthly show in NYC called Glamourpuss, and she suggested we contact some comics so they could discuss what Wendi goes through in the film since the comic's journey is a tale of struggle and hardship before they "make it". I was not sure in the beginning but this really took the story to the next level, I'm a fanatic of stand-up comedy and I cannot express how much I love and respect this cast, it was a dream come true to meet them and have them in the doc.

How much of the documentary is scripted or outlined?  
Nada. We shot 2 short re-enactments and that's it. I did not want to stage anything and even if I wanted to that would have been impossible, Wendi was really clear about keeping everything real at all times.

If you had to compare it to another film, what might it be?
I have really tried to compare it to another film but have yet to find one that fits. When I was shooting, I intentionally did not watch a single movie, series, or documentary. That was not easy, but I did not want this movie to remind you of anything, I really wanted to test myself I see what came out of me as a director.

It looks superb. Do you expect it’ll appeal to a broad range of people?

I hope so. There is a lot here to digest, many layers of humanity. It's not a comedy doc per se, and more of a human experience documentary that happens to occur in the comedy world.

How much do you rely on good reviews as a filmmaker? I imagine you’d have to have a thick skin? 
I don't read them. Once a movie is done that's it, it's not yours anymore, it belongs to every person that watches it. I know the film that I have here and I hope it connects with many people.

FUNNY PAINS is released Monday on digital.