Known best as the co-anchor of Weekend Update on “Saturday Night Live,” Colin Jost is part of the new cast of comics taking over the show.
Since Seth Meyers left in 2014, “SNL” creator Lorne Michaels promoted Jost to not only the Weekend Update chair, but also the show’s head writer.
Jost has also been thrust into Michaels’ inner circle, as he’s producing Jost’s first feature-length script, “Staten Island Summer.“
The comedy, which opens in select theatres on Friday and then available on Netflix July 30, looks at the antics of lifeguards working at a swim club in Staten Island as they try to pull off an end of summer party. The cast includes “SNL” current and former talents Bobby Moynihan, Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, Fred Armisen, and Will Forte.
Though Michaels is constantly executive producing movies and TV shows, he hasn’t had a producer credit on a film since 2012’s “The Guilt Trip.” His past producing credits aren’t too shabby, including projetcs of such “SNL” greats as Mike Meyers (“Wayne’s World”), Chris Farely (“Tommy Boy,” “Black Sheep”) and Tina Fey (“Mean Girls”).
Jost says his film being made wouldn’t have been possible without Michaels taking interest. But the comic admits the pitch process for “Staten Island Summer” was a hectic ordeal.
The idea behind the film came about a few years ago when a conversation between Jost and Michaels led to Jost bringing up his interest in doing a comedy around lifeguards at a swim club, which was his job during summers as a teen in Staten Island.
What Jost thought was a casual conversation suddenly become a real pitch.
“I told him that’s what I really wanted to write next,” Jost told Business Insider, “and I think when he was at Paramount next he kind of told them vaguely about the idea and they were interested.”
Jost said he had to come up with a pitch for the studio in a week.
“So what was a vague idea in my mind that I thought would be a fun topic became a tense week of coming up with the characters in the movie, the plot structure, it was a crazy scramble,” Jost said.
He locked himself in a hotel room in L.A. for the week leading up to the pitch at Paramount.
Though Jost said he’s no stranger to pitching projects to studios, this one was a little different. Before talking to the Paramount suits, he had to go through Michaels and his executives first. After honing the pitch with them, it was time to do it for real in front of Michaels and Paramount’s head of production.
“It was a very intimidating situation because it’s just the three of us in a quite private dining room,” Jost said. “You’re hearing clinking of table wear on china and then small talk and then a pause followed by, ‘Well, what’s this idea you have, Colin?'”
Jost said the pressure of doing the pitch was elevated because Lorne Michaels is sitting right there, too.
“You feel if it doesn’t work you’re also failing him,” said Jost.
Luckily for Jost, Paramount bought the idea for “Staten Island Summer” right then and there. Jost spent the rest of 2013 writing the script and director Rhys Thomas shot the film last summer in Staten Island.
Looking back on the pitch process, Jost credits the break-neck speed in which “Saturday Night Live” is done every week to pulling it off. He also believes using familiar things from his childhood helped flesh things out.
“When you’re pitching movies sometimes you know what the idea is but you fully don’t know the dimensions of it,” he said. “But this felt a little more concrete because I’d lived it.”
Check out the trailer for “Staten Island Summer” below:
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