Drake Doremus ‘Like Crazy’ Method: Instead of a Script, Actors Got Mix Tapes

The indie director and actors Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones dish about shooting the romantic drama on a $250K budget

Last Updated: December 2, 2011 @ 12:18 PM

Drake Doremus doesn't do scripts.

Instead, the director of the Sundance Grand Jury-winning “Like Crazy” gave the stars of his festival hit an outline – and some music.

It's an unconventional approach that the the indie director labeled a "scriptment," during a Q&A after a presentation of the film at TheWrap’s Awards Season Screening Series at the Landmark Theater on Thursday night,

Doremus told TheWrap's Editor-in-Chief Sharon Waxman that a “scriptment” was a 50-page short story that included back story and the occasional line of dialogue.

But he gave them more than that, Anton Yelchin, who stars with Felicity Jones in the romantic drama, said.

The outlines "came with a CD of songs that matched the scenes," Yelchin said. 

The music – including songs from the bands M83 and Fool’s Gold and the pianist Dustin O’Halloran, helped the actors dive into their characters.

“I listened to that CD a lot when we were shooting,” Yelchin said. “I tend to be very cynical and coldhearted about love stories, but the CD really got to me.”

Doremus said he gave the CD to the entire crew.

“Everyone got it,” he said. “The production designer and the DP … We were playing it on the set.”

In the case of “Like Crazy,” “everyone” isn’t a whole lot of people. The movie, shot in Los Angeles and London for $250,000 – including airfare – had a crew of about 20.

And there were times when Doremus shot with as few as three.

Also read: Drake Doremus' 8 Rules for Making Indie Films

A scene filmed on the beach in Santa Monica was Doremus, a cinematographer and a sound guy – and the two actors.

“That was it,” Doremus said.

To do that, he shot the movie on a Canon 7D – a still camera.

“It takes videos and we built a rig – our incredible DP built a special rig, put cinema lenses on,” Doremus said.

He said that John Guleserian’s rig made it possible to keep the movie’s intimate tone – important since the largest crew was about 20 people, when the movie shot on Catalina Island.

Jones said Doremus tried to keep the set as low-key as possible, and to have the fewest possible number of people onset.

“He makes it very intimate,” she said. “There’s not many people allowed on set. Hair and makeup, you kind of do that in the morning, and once you’re on set, people don’t come in and do touch-ups constantly, so it means that you don’t break out of it.”

In addition to having a slim crew and budget, “Like Crazy,” released by Paramount Vantage, had a brief shooting schedule.

The movie is about a British college student, Anna, played by Jones, who falls in love with an American, Jacob, played by Yelchin, while studying in Los Angeles. After Anna overstays her visa, she is banned from reentering the United States, and she and Jake have to figure out whether their love is sustainable.

The movie unfolds over six years, but was shot in just 22 days.

Doremus said he cast Yelchin first before searching for a female lead.

Jones convinced him to cast her by sending him a video she shot herself.

There’s an emotional scene in the movie in which the two characters are in a shower.

Jones set up a tripod in her shower in England and started shooting.

“I was like … come to L.A. right now,” Doremus said. “And then she did and we were shooting seven days later.”