PARK CITY, UTAH – JANUARY 27: Max Barbakow attends the SAGindie Filmmakers Lunch At Sundance Film Festival at Cafe Terigo on January 27, 2020 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Fred Hayes/Getty Images for SAGindie)
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Max Barbakow: ‘We tried to think outside the box’

Palm Springs, the film starring Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, and J.K. Simmons that debuts this week on Hulu in the United States, was a dream made true for film school graduates Max Barbakow and Andy Siara. After they left AFI, they worked hard on the project to start their careers. Andy, who wrote the script, sent it to Samberg to produce. The famous comedian also starred in it, giving Barbakow the chance to make his first film. When it screened at Sundance, Palm Springs became an instant success with the audience, breaking the record for the highest price paid for a film in the history of the festival. And now Barbakow is set to direct a film for Legendary with Peter Dinklage and Jason Momoa that is tentatively titled Good Bad & Undead.

How many years did you have to live with this movie before it got made?


Was the plot always about a time loop?

  And it started from a place of character and as we kind of thought about what we wanted to do with that character, we had to go to a lot of weddings in the desert in our late 20s and it became this wedding story and the timeless element really came about when we started thinking about how to challenge Niles’ shortcomings and kind of put him in a personal hell. So, it was a very loose, kind of organic development. And even the character of Roy came in very late. It was kind of the final piece of the puzzle. 

Now a time loop is like a great fantasy concept, but how tricky is it to have it in a film and avoid being repetitive?


You sent the script to Andy Samberg and he decided to produce it and have Max direct it. Were you at all concerned that he might take the script and go with it and leave you guys behind? How did it go?


What did Andy Samberg bring to the project?

We have to fall in love with Sarah through the film. How critical was Cristin for that?

How long do you think that Niles has been in that world when we meet him?


After making this movie, do you know that you can go to a wedding wearing shorts?

Since he can’t remember how long he has been there, you have a huge chunk of time where you can place another story in this world. Did you guys talk about continuing somehow or do you think this is going to be one story?


This movie had the biggest sale ever at Sundance and now you have a project with Peter Dinklage. Exciting times.

How important has the AFI been for you? 


With regard to your next project, how different is it when it’s not your script and you have to work with these two giants from Game of Thrones?


Do you see yourself as a fantasy film director or is it just a coincidence?