When Other Movies Have Similarities to Your Own (aka Shi**ing with the Door Open)

Before I even had a title for Did You Kiss Anyone? I knew that it would involve a married couple who go their separate ways for one night, and that this fracture in their relationship would be caused by a single event: the wife shitting with the door open. Okay, clearly this isn’t a Revolutionary Road type of bleak tragedy about a stultifying marriage. It’s more of a romantic comedy about a crazy night out and I knew I had actor (Amanda Charr) who could pull off the bathroom scene(s) with the right level of humor and realism.

Now here’s where the life of “Did You Kiss Anyone?” gets tricky. I wrote the script in November/December 2008. I did a crowdfunding webseries called Did You Cast Anyone? in July 2009 (just before Kickstarter kickstarted itself). And then we began shooting in October 2009. We’d only shot about 20% of the movie by December 2009 when I saw the Sundance selections come out. One of them was a movie called “The Freebie.” The premise seemed almost exactly the same: A couple in a stale marriage give each other a pass to have sex with someone else for one night only. Someone beat me to the punch! And worse, it looked like a really good movie. I was in a depression for days and ridiculously considered calling off the rest of production.

But multiple movies about the same thing happen all the time. And as my wife said, “It’s not like it’s the most original idea in the world.” That briefly wounded my creative ego but also changed my outlook. My own inspiration for the “one night pass” idea came from Season 4 of Curb Your Enthusiasm so who’s to say it wouldn’t inspire other people? And so in February 2011, I wasn’t totally surprised when I heard the movie “Hall Pass” was also coming out and that it had the same basic premise. There’s even a Hindi movie that predates all of those called Mixed Doubles.

I started to look at it like this: there are many types of movies. Heist movies. Vampire movies. Married couples giving freebie hall pass movies. There may be similarities in the storyline, but the treatment or execution is what makes them different. I haven’t seen The Freebie or Hall Pass (although I REALLY want to see The Freebie–I just can’t yet), but I know that the three movies are all completely different. I’m positive there are some moments of overlap. It’s like heist movie tropes: you’ve got to see the crew get assembled, they’ve got to get into an impregnable fortress, there’s a femme fatale whose loyalties are unclear, etc. In a feebie hall pass movie, the tropes probably include a married couple missing their days of being single, breaking down the rules of the one night stand (who/what is off limits), and a re-consideration of marriage informed by the events of the movie.

The premise is not the story. The execution or delivery is what makes a movie unique.

So I’d come to peace with all of this and finished shooting and editing the movie. I even showed it to the cast and crew who all seemed to genuinely enjoy it. I’ve since sent it out to a few film festivals and hope to be able to show it somewhere soon. But then I saw the trailer for The Change Up, which is not exactly the same idea. But it has one similarity that drives me nuts. There is a scene where a wife shits with the door open. AAARRRRRRHHHHH!!! Why, Zeus, WHY!? The working title for my movie was “Shitting with the Door Open.” The current tagline is: “A romantic comedy about marriage, sex, and shi**ing with the door open.” Hell, even my Twitter avatar has been me on the toilet as a homage to that scene. (Again, I was inspired by the great explosive diarrhea marriage proposal from Henry Fool so I’m not conceited enough to believe anyone was even aware of my movie.) But the lovely Leslie Mann, crapping out Thai food on a toilet while her husband averts his eyes in disgust… COME ON! That’s my joke!

So I’m going to “premiere” my scene first–and by premiere I mean post it to YouTube. Amanda Charr is just as lovely and her bathroom emergency is due to lactose intolerance. In fact, her lactose intolerance plays a key role in the movie, not just this scene. I hope posting this will release some voodoo that ends all of the random, unwelcome similarities with “Did You Kiss Anyone?” So please, if you’re going to film a Furries orgy, I’ve already got that covered.

Here is MY shitting with the door open scene:

And if you run a film festival or screening series and want a screener, drop me a line…

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Mike Vogel

Hi, I'm the Writer & Director of Transmedia, Feature Films, Original Series, and Fiction. Portland, Oregon

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