Zoe Lister-Jones not only stars alongside Adam Pally (Ben) and Fred Armisen (neighbor Dave) in Band Aid, she also dons her writer and directors’ hats with this film. Lister-Jones tackles marriage through music as a young couple hits a dead end in their relationship. In a last-ditch effort to reconnect, they turn their fights into music and form a band. It’s an incredibly funny and relatable film not only written and directed by a woman, but Lister-Jones used an all-female production crew as well. Lister-Jones spoke with me about bringing Band Aid to life.
The concept for the film is truly unique yet still focuses upon a familiar and frequently told tale about relationships coming to a screeching halt. Lister-Jones said, “I just wanted to capture the authenticity of a lived-in relationship…and I was really craving having music be a part of my life again. It’s something I’ve always loved and sort of lost track of in the madness of being an adult. I then thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if this couple fought through music?”
And it’s fun because all couples can relate to fighting about completely unimportant issues. The opening scene in the film is a sink full of dirty dishes. Lister-Jones and I laughed as we talked about how this is a very common “discussion” in marriages. While writing the movie, Lister-Jones, a wife of four years, said it was actually a relief to open the doors of communication with her girlfriends about closed-door arguments. “I do think that not only is there comedy to be mined from it, but it can be kind of healing to know we are all in it. The more we talked about it, the more I realized we were all having the same fights!” While it is a fictional tale, Lister-Jones confided that she and her husband both saw some of their early relationship “sticking points” in the film.
Bringing on the talented comedic actor (and drummer) Fred Armisen of Portlandia fame, created a wonderfully awkward and musically beautiful triad. Music is the overlay to the relationship and Armisen’s drumming skills gave it all just the right beat—in an offbeat way. Lister-Jones shared that they played all of the music live in the film and that an actual album has been produced. The name of the band? “The Dirty Dishes,” of course! They’ve also played a few live shows and the excitement in Lister-Jones voice could be easily heard, “It’s been really fun to continue on with the band even outside the world of the movie.”
Interspersed between the singing/fighting are relationship lessons learned, one in particular is from “Shirley” (Susie Essman) as her words of wisdom are perhaps some of the most solid and important ones we should all closely hear. Creating this sage wisdom seemed to just come to Lister-Jones while she was writing as she didn’t have an outline for the screenplay. “I was just seeing where my mind would take me as the story unfolded…[I was] trying to unpack a lot of those questions for myself and just used her character as a mouthpiece.” The words are loud, clear, and truly insightful.
More music to your ears is the fact that Lister-Jones made a special effort to employ an all-female crew for Band Aid. She recognized the difficulty for women in the film industry and found that “…the system has been functioning in such a way for so long that there’s a smaller pool from which to draw upon female crew members or even female directors…It’s a Catch-22 because how
can women gain that level of experience if they’re not given opportunities to begin with? I think on this film, it was about certain positions, taking risks on women who might have less experience on the page than their male counterpart and it proved so fruitful. Those women worked so much harder because they were so hungry for those opportunities…” Lister-Jones shared her final thoughts about making this film. “I would love to continue to work with female crews and to continue to work with actors that I admire and respect.”
Band Aid is currently playing in New York City and Los Angeles and will open in Chicago and other major cities on Friday, June 16. Read FF2 Media’s highly-recommended review by Associate Eliana M. Levenson.
© Pamela Powell (6/13/17) FF2 Media
Photos: Zoe Lister-Jones/Band Aid
Photo Credits: Mister Lister Films