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Interview: Co-Directors And Writers Jess Weixler And Jennifer Prediger Discuss 'Trouble Dolls'

Lauren Brose |
June 15, 2014 | 10:57 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Scene from "Trouble Dolls" (Starstream Entertainment)
Scene from "Trouble Dolls" (Starstream Entertainment)

It couldn’t have possibly been a more beautiful Friday morning when I sat down with Jess Weixler and Jennifer Prediger to discuss their upcoming indie film “Trouble Dolls.” We met “Upstairs,” the famous rooftop bar of the Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles and sipped on cucumber-infused water as we delved into the characters and plot lines of the film these two women wrote, directed and starred in. 

Screening Sunday, June 15, at LA Live for the LA Film Festival, this dramedy discusses the idealistic romanticism of Los Angeles and how two genuinely oblivious 20-somethings find that the reality of pursuing a career in Hollywood is not quite cohesive to their far-fetched expectations. Olivia and Nicole, played by Prediger and Weixler respectively, are the story’s two protagonists who learn the values of a “good/bad” friendship and the liberation that results from hitting rock bottom. Nicole and Olivia are described as inseparable childhood best friends who are struggling conceptual artists, living in the East Village together in a shoebox of an apartment before their untimely eviction. Their lifestyle is described as a “hard knock life” of girls who cannot get real jobs or won't get real jobs. Prior to the eviction, Olivia’s cat dies and and they find that with so many negative occurrences, New York begins to suffocate them. In search for refuge, the girl’s accept an opportunity to star in a reality television show with high confidence that they are going to become undeniably successful through combining acting with their conceptual art. As many would predict, a reality television show is not the most appropriate venue for art— “but god bless them for trying,” Prediger says with a laugh. 

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Prediger and Weixler both envisioned the story as comedic with underlying elements of drama (hence the coined and cliché term ‘dramedy’). Their inspiration was pulled from a variety of places--including their real-life friendship. “It was like this excitement  of a friendship together but we also had that wonderful thing happen when you just meet each other but we felt like old friends,” Prediger explains. ”So we kind of dove into the idea of old friends who have sort of an imbalanced relationship.” One thing that they both really valued was the notion that “sometimes you must lose everything before you can go to the next stage in life.” This contributes to the underlying theme of the film that hitting rock bottom will in turn lead to exponential growth of oneself. 

With Olivia and Nicole being modeled from the archetypal “Odd Couple” character dynamic, it was hard to consider whether the film was more character-driven or plot-driven. Given the collection of unfortunate circumstances that the two girls encounter for the duration of the film including eviction, a shot in a  reality television show, an undetected homosexual infatuation and a cryptic prediction from a tarot card reader, one would argue that the plot drives the entire story. 

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That being said, Olivia and Nicole are not only the female equivalence of a “man-child” but they also have a particularly unhealthy friendship—or as described by Weixler as “a pair with fairly opposite personalities who are stuck together and codependent on each other but also get each other into trouble because they’re so different in nature. And there is also an obsessive quality to it…they are a bit obsessed with each other. In an unhealthy kind of closeness. It reaches its breaking point and it’s about their friendship needing to change. They cannot function as a unit like this anymore." Moving from Manhattan to Los Angeles was not only a huge test on their friendship but also the quintessential precursor to abandoning the remnants of their post-adolescent immaturity.

Nicole is narcissistic, more beautiful and has the power and decision making. Olivia is perfectly happy with that and almost needs to be obsessed with Nicole just like Nicole needs Olivia to be obsessed with her. They need each other equally but it’s a very symbiotic relationship; obsession and the need to be obsessed over. Nicole is also captivating while Olivia hangs onto every word she says. Olivia needs to break from Nicole and Nicole see’s Olivia getting stronger without her. This is then that she realizes she is left with nothing because she’s been pushed away.

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“Trouble Dolls” is dense in character, story and a life lesson nearly every audience member regardless of age or gender will resonate with. Above all, the story is inspiring in the sense that despite the challenges that Olivia and Nicole face, they remain optimistic that their luck will turn around. Both Weixler and Prediger agree that there are times in which your life is veering in the wrong direction and all of a sudden everything gets demolished. It’s terrible and painful but when it happens it’s like a reset button that we needed to get back into the life you should be living. Simply put, they are firm believers that “in these losses are also great gifts.” 

Scene from "Trouble Dolls" (Starstream Entertainment)
Scene from "Trouble Dolls" (Starstream Entertainment)

Being responsible for directing but additionally the writing and acting, it is only expected that Weixler and Prediger would face some obstacles. One of the biggest unforeseen challenges that the two faced was the process of editing a full-length feature film. It was described as “the part that nobody could prepare you for…It’s just a part of the process. You have to be so careful. You are sitting in a dark room and you turn into a troll— a fat troll. We are just sitting there, living off of our gummi-bears. Like all you can do is eat candy to keep yourself going.”

On- and off-screen the two are absolutely hilarious and genuinely enjoyable to be around. It was a real treat having the chance to sit down and pick the brains of two extremely innovative women. Comparable to Mindy Kaling and Lena Dunham, they don’t hold back from celebrating female degeneracy in its finest form. “Trouble Dolls” may be the first project Jess Weixler and Jennifer Prediger have done together, but somewhere along the road a sequel could potentially happen. Because of the strong character growth both Olivia and Nicole make, whether it is growth together or apart, they “would be even better friends now having gained their own self actualizing independence.” Personally, there’s nothing I love more than a film that allows me to find myself within the characters while having strong themes.

If you are looking to have a good laugh while witnessing the spontaneous whirlwind of a journey Olivia and Nicole embark on, check out “Trouble Dolls” at the LA Film Festival. The festival runs from June 11-19 and additional information can be found here.

Reach Staff Reporter Lauren Brose here and follow her on Twitter.



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