Director Kat Coiro makes her feature film debut in L!fe Happens, a hilarious story about three best friends, Kim (Krysten Ritter), Deena (Kate Bosworth), and Laura (Rachel Bilson), living under the same roof. Ritter, who shares writing credit with Coiro, plays a single mother who attempts to jump back into the dating scene with the help of her BFFs. But she soon realizes that her newborn can be a bit of a “buzz kill” when it comes to meeting Mr. Right.
Coiro and Ritter candidly talked with us about the joys and challenges of making of L!fe Happens, the few rules they broke, and why women filmmakers can rule.
Fandango: How did this collaboration come about, any difficulties?
Kat Coiro: Krysten and I have been friends for a long time and we always talked about trying to make a female comedy. I think we started off with a female version of Swingers but we couldn’t quite find the formula to do that.
Krysten Ritter: Two heads are better than one. We work really well together. We’re both super high-energy, type A, let’s get it done, we’re both the kind of girls that put our money where our mouth is so it was a great collaboration. For this particular project it was the perfect marriage.
Fandango: Why didn’t a female version of Swingers work?
Ritter: The whole idea was inspired because Kat and I were trying to do a fun female comedy where the girls get to be funny and act like boys. We soon realized we couldn’t do a female version of Swingers because there are double standards, but we realized that we can have babies.
We were driving home one day from getting burritos and some boys pulled up next to us, this actually made it into the movie, and we were making eyes at them and then Kat’s baby cried. And it was this magical, hallelujah moment, where we were like that’s it. So thank god Kat went and had a baby because it inspired this whole idea and journey.
Fandango: Krysten, were you always set to play Kim?
Ritter: Actually, no. The story is based on two best friends Kim and Deena, Kim has a baby and I thought Deena had more of my voice but three years later I changed as a human being and it just seemed to make more sense as I grew up and the story evolved to play Kim. When we cast Kate Bosworth I realized she’s would be the perfect Deena. I don’t think I could have done nearly as good as a job as she did.
Fandango: What was the casting process like?
Coiro: About a year ago, I did a Funny or Die with Kate Bosworth and Zoe Saldana. It went really well and Kate and I had such a fun time working together. So after we did that I sent her the script for L!fe Happens and she really responded and jumped onboard.
She is seriously one of the funniest, smartest people that I know. She’s very irreverent and very quick witted. I think people are going to be amazed by how hilarious she is in the movie.
Ritter: I asked a friend for Rachel’s number and she loved the script. Kat is friends with Jason Biggs and we thought maybe he would want to do a little part. Then a friend of mine knows Colin Egglesfield, I thought we had the perfect part for him; he’s just man candy.
Fandango: How was life on set with a baby?
Ritter: It’s funny because in independent films there are two rules: don’t have babies and don’t have animals. We had about 12 or 13 babies and 18 dogs so we broke all of those rules but we did it with flying colors. We got really lucky and hired these twin babies. It’s hard but it got to the point where I could hold the baby like a pro and it was second nature. I could tell when it wanted to throw up so I would aim it away from me, it was definitely challenging.
Fandango: Kat, how do you handle life as a working mom?
Coiro: You know it’s become a lot easier for me to work since having my daughter because she puts me on a schedule. When she’s at preschool I know I have four hours to work and I work as hard as I possibly can. When she was a baby I didn’t have any help but when she would take a nap that’s when I would work. She’s also been a huge inspiration especially for this film. This film would have never come about had she not been born. I owe her a lot for that.
Fandango: It’s so refreshing to see female directors take center stage. What are your thoughts on women filmmakers?
Ritter: I love it. I’m a girls-girl, through and through. I’m all about supporting my fellow female filmmakers. There was a point about a year and a half ago where I said, “Oh my god there are no female directors.” And here I am my last three directors have been women. I don’t know if it’s because I put it out there but all I’m working with now are female directors. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be equal and the time has come.
Coiro: There was a moment on set where I looked around and noticed Kate, Rachel, Krysten, and Lauren Conrad who we had on set for a day, my department heads, production designer and my producing partner, all women on set. And I thought this is awesome! My DP is a guy and he had never experienced anything like it.
I think the time for this is very ripe and I do feel fortunate to be on the cusp of what I believe is going to become a lot more common. I think it has a lot to do with women banding together. It’s about coming together and not being competitive with one another and making movies that are entertaining for each other.
Fandango: Why showcase at the LAFF?
Coiro: L!fe Happens is a really Los Angeles movie. Krysten and I live really close to each other. It’s a 16-second drive along with our producing partner and we love our neighborhood—Silverlake/Los Feliz. It’s so cinematic, beautiful and different from what you would normally see when you think of Los Angeles on film. We thought it would be fun to show in Los Angeles. The LAFF seems to be a rapidly growing and really exciting festival. It feels like Sundance in my own backyard.
Follow Elisa on Twitter @elisaosegueda
Send feedback on this column to