Natasha Lyonne, director Jamie Babbit, and writer Karey Dornetto sat down with the What’s Trending team at this year’s South by Southwest festival to talk about their new film, “Fresno.” The conversation covered both Fresno the movie and the city, as well as the state of women in comedy today.
The film is a dark comedy about two sisters who work as hotel maids in the California city. You don’t see a lot of films set in Fresno, and apparently the city has been touchy on the topic.
“A lot of people were like, ‘Don’t mess with Fresno!'” Lyonne told What’s Trending host Shira Lazar.
“I grew up in a terrible town called Cleveland,” Babbit said. “I grew up in an underdog city so I really responded to living in an armpit and wanting to get out. So when we decided to make the movie in California rather than Clevend, I thought about, ‘what is the Cleveland of California?'”
But movie title aside, the film is more about complicated women and the relationship between them. It’s a roll that “most women don’t get to play” according to Dornetto.
Lyonne describes it as “not apologizing for being sort of not thrilled with being alive.”
“I think when I see funny movies about women I get really excited.” Babbit said. “‘Bridesmaids’ really blew me away.”
“I loved that it was a movie about female friendships, which is something you don’t really see.” Babbit said. “We wanted to tell a movie about sisters who want to kill each other.”
On the subject of women in comedy, Lyonne said, “I think it’s such a great time for women in comedy. Amy Poehler and Lena Duham… there’s just so many exciting things going on right now.”
“I don’t know how men got the upper hand way back when,” Lyonne said. “It’s going to end and die soon. Hopefully some of them will stick around so we can use them for what we need them for. Reproduction and such.”