The romantic comedy that struck box-office gold over the summer, Crazy, Stupid, Love., was directed by two Pratt graduates who met as freshmen and have been collaborating ever since. Glenn Ficarra (B.F.A. ’91) and John Requa (B.F.A. ’91), met in a first-year Foundation class taught by the late Mary Buckley Parriott. The two aspiring filmmakers had no drawing or painting experience.
"We were in way over our heads and we bonded by our lack of ability," jokes Requa. The two became fast friends, especially because the Film program had only about a dozen students.
"The program was very intimate back then and we had a lot of access to our professors," says Requa. The two cite their major influences at Pratt as Paul Corrigan, video artist Juan Downey, and Camille Rojas. A lesson taught by Rojas, who made Requa and Ficarra cut one of their assignments in half, then in half again, and in half yet again, has stuck with them.
Even that fateful Foundation class has paid off, says Ficarra. "Mary Buckley would talk about the color of the light and Edward Hopper and she would send me to the library to look things up, and I didn't get it. Then years later I was in Hollywood and looking up at the mountains and I saw this light and it all hit me. And now an understanding of light has become crucial to us since we're directing."
Requa says as writers and directors with a strong visual arts education, the two are often able to communicate with the photographers and art directors on their sets.
"We can speak to them on their level and we understand their sensibility, and we know art history," says Requa. "We're often told that we're a bit more artistic than the average comedy guys."
The two are thrilled with the success of Crazy, Stupid, Love., which stars Steve Carell as a man making his way through life after a surprise separation from his unfaithful wife. He gets help navigating the singles scene from a ladies man played by Ryan Gosling.
This film is their biggest hit to date, though they previously worked together writing screenplays for Bad Santa (2004) and the remake of Bad News Bears (2005). They made their directorial debut in 2009 with I Love You Phillip Morris, a dark comedy about a romance between two prisoners played by Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor.
Though there is no one scene in their latest hit that stands out as being influenced by Pratt, Requa says that what they learned at Pratt comes through in all their work.
"The influence is there in everything we do. Our mentors and teachers, we still talk about them or talk to them," he says.
Text: Abigail Beshkin
Photos: Ben Glass