I had the opportunity to ask the Josh Covitt and Michael Feld, the creators behind 40 Minutes Over Maui. I dropped my review of the short film earlier today and thought this made for the perfect follow-up to help readers get a better idea of the story and what inspired it. Covitt and Feld recently showed their film at the LA Shorts Festival. Thank you so much to both of them for their great responses.
Could you tell our readers a little about yourselves?
We’re a filmmaking duo based in Los Angeles who met about 6 years ago on a kickball team. We discovered we had very similar comedic and story sensibilities, even though we had very different backgrounds – Michael in documentary filmmaking and Josh in acting and sketch comedy. When we decided to make a narrative together we found that we meshed incredibly well. We have a shared appreciation of a variety of comedic voices – including, but not limited to The Simpsons, SNL, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Adam Sandler. In fact, we’ve respectively worked for two directors, Dennis Dugan and Peter Segal, who’ve combined to direct eleven Sandler movies – so we swam in the same comedic waters before we ever met.
How would you describe 40 Minutes Over Maui?
40 Minutes Over Maui is a short comedy about what happens when two people have to face that they might be in their last moments on Earth. What do you do when you find out it’s the end in the midst of your gorgeous Hawaiian vacation?
What inspired the film?
The film was inspired by the true events of January 13, 2018, when an “inbound missile” false alert sent a panic over Hawaii and for 38 minutes the whole world thought we might be on the edge of World War III. The first draft of the script was actually written by Steve Feld, Michael’s father, and was written as if he and his wife had been on vacation in Hawaii. Michael loved the idea and asked if he and Josh could take a crack at re-writing it and directing it, and the rest… is history.
What was it like filming in a primarily one room set?
Tricky at times, but mostly advantageous. The great thing about a single location is that you don’t have to worry about traveling anywhere and doing a huge company move – which would have taken up a lot of time that we didn’t have. The tricky thing about one room is that it can be hard to fit everyone in your frame, and you have to make sure that you’re varying your blocking and angles enough so it doesn’t get boring for your audience. We actually had three rooms at the hotel – one to shoot in, one to stage all our gear, and the other for holding and craft services.
One quirk of the one location, that we came to enjoy, was that our monitors were in the bathroom of our “hero” hotel room. After all the preparation and excitement that went into pre-production, to find ourselves spending 16 hours in a bathroom, balancing on an apple box, was an experience we can’t help but laugh about.
Do you have any favorite on set moments?
40 Minutes Over Maui was a joy to make and there were a lot of memorable moments. One that jumps out was making the montage of eating all the food and drinks. We planned it for the end of the day so we could let our actors trash the room and leave it that way for the next day. We told our DP to follow them around to every corner of the room as they tore everything open. A lot of the reactions you see in the montage are honest reactions of the actors trying purple potato cakes or seaweed for the first time, as well as trying to figure out how to open a coconut.
Our actors had us and the crew cracking up from the start, so when we filmed the quieter moments of them in bed holding one another, it really let us know that even in the midst of a comedy, there was a gentle, touching moment taking place. Penny and Larry are loud and hilarious, but we also get to see them in a very tender moment.
What would some of your end of the world bucket list items be?
We’d certainly want to let my friends and family know how much we love them and how much they meant to us. Michael would want spend all the money (which isn’t much) that he has left and Josh would probably opt to shoot off some fireworks – not because he has a penchant for them, but it’s the end of the world, go out with a bang, right!?
Do you have any other projects you’d like to share?
We’ve got a lot! We have two shorts that we’ll be shooting this fall and we’re currently writing a feature film that takes place after the end of the world. We’re also taking meetings and pitching on open directing jobs, which is very exciting.
Where can our readers keep up with you both and 40 Minutes Over Maui?
We’re both on Instagram and Twitter, @joshcovitt and @mpfeld, respectively. 40 Minutes Over Maui is on Instagram, @40MinutesOverMaui, and Facebook, where we post all the updates about upcoming festivals and screenings.