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PREVIEW: Q&A With "Think Like A Man" Director Tim Story

Tanaya Ghosh |
April 20, 2012 | 8:26 a.m. PDT

Associate Arts Editor

"Think Like A Man" opens today in theaters. (Screen Gems)
"Think Like A Man" opens today in theaters. (Screen Gems)
Director Tim Story, a graduate of the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts (SCA), returned to his alma mater to discuss his career experiences and his latest project following a preview screening of Screen Gems' "Think Like A Man."

In theaters starting Friday, "Think Like A Man" is based on Steve Harvey's book, Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man. The plot weaves together the stories, or shall we say battles, of four couples with their own set of problems.

Filled with great moments that are all too funny because they undeniably contain elements of truth, the film was amusing, albeit a bit long, running a full two hours. However, it was largely entertaining and contained a few key heartfelt moments.

The romantic comedy, or "dramedy" as Story puts it, boasts a strong male cast that includes Michael Ealy as Dominic "The Dreamer," Terrence J as Michael "The Mama's Boy," Jerry Ferrara as Jeremy "The Non-Committer," Romany Malco as "The Player," and  Kevin Hart as Cedric the "Happily Divorced Man."

As for the men's "opponents," or the women engaging in love and war with them, the cast features Gabrielle Union, Regina Hall, Taraji P. Henson, and Meagan Good. With four somewhat interconnected storylines, the film is similar in format to "Love Actually," but with more battles between the sexes and more comedy.

The cameo-laden film about the complicated games both sides play has surprise appearances from celebs such as Chris Brown, Kelly Rowland and a handful of Lakers such as Metta World Peace, Matt Barnes and former Laker Shannon Brown.

Though the characters are intentionally stereotypical, the cast is lovable and there are human qualities that each exhibit that we can either relate to, or know someone with those similar traits.

On Tuesday, the preview screening was met with roars and kudos from the crowd inside the Ray Stark Theater in the George Lucas building at USC. The packed house was hosted by the SCA Alumni Screening Series and the African American Cinema Society.

After the screening, Director Tim Story gave the crowd insight into what it was like to direct the film, as well as how he spent his days as a USC film student.

Story, 42, explained that he began his journey at age 12 when his brother gave him an 8mm camera. In the 8th grade, it was already Story's dream to attend USC's SCA; he applied to the program but was turned down. However, he persisted and got accepted after graduating high school.

Story cited SCA professor Drew Casper as one of his favorite professors, and stated that "there's a certain stamina that USC prepares you for" once you're in the real world. He said before the digital age, it was more about helping one another and collaborating among classmates.

The "Barbershop" and "Fantastic Four" director recalled the days when he would get his classmates a bottle of wine or champagne when they finished a film, "whether it was good or bad." Story also met his current agent while they were both still in film school.

On directing "Barbershop" and "Think Like A Man," Story said that "this is my sense of humor. I have a weird sense of humor... I read the ("Think Like A Man") script and laughed out loud."

He also said that his latest film would fall into the "dramedy" category, which is a combination of drama and comedy. He likes films that "tug at your heart a little bit, but I like to laugh." Story added, "If you can capture reality, that's what makes you laugh, because it's unexpected but real." Indeed, the humor in the film is largely successful because there are truthful aspects about most of the humorous situations.

What makes the film unique, Story believes, is that "Think Like A Man" "is one of the first movies where it tells the love story from the guy's perspective."

He also said that the casting process involved hand-picked actors as well as those who auditioned. Story explained that each cast member was different to work with, and that Kevin Hart "gives you gold on the first, second and third take."

Story also said that Kevin Hart's stellar comedic performance was "about 50-50" improvisation and scripted, and that the rest of the cast's performance consisted of about 30% improvisation. "I love improv," Story said, smiling. "I like the happy mistakes."

Being in the industry for 10 years, Story advised current film students to "learn from your mistakes. You're gonna make mistakes. Your career's going to go up and down. Push through, never stop. Keep working at it and be resilient."

He also urged students to "get friends and go shoot features, not shorts" to develop their sense of confidence and find their voice. "You cannot fake confidence," said Story. "Figure out what you want to say and how you want to say it."

He discussed the up-tempo cutting style of the film, and why he chose that route. It is "to keep you guys at a certain pace," so that when he slows it down at more critical parts of the story, viewers will pay close attention.

Story also explains that Steve Harvey, whose book was the inspiration for the film, was like "the omnipresent Godfather who leaves you alone and lets you do your thing. He just said, 'hey, just don't mess it up!'" Apparently, Harvey "loved it" after he saw the final product.

The film was shot within an alarmingly short time span, and Story praised his team. "Think Like A Man" is expected to be a box office hit.

Find out more about the film here.

You can reach reporter Tanaya Ghosh here or follow her on Twitter here.



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