California Amish’s Rosenbloom Goes Bananas – Jayma Mays Narrates
Bananas. Convenient, delicious, easy-to-eat – it is the most popular fruit in the world. Who doesn’t love bananas, right? That’s what California Amish director Aaron Rosenbloom thought until he read Roz Chast’s short story in The New Yorker excoriating the much-loved banana. Inspiration struck. “Something about the way this story was written simply spoke to me,” Rosenbloom recalls. “It said, ‘This would make a really funny short film, and I have to be the one to make it.’”
Rosenbloom rounded up a production crew and recruited actress Jayma Mays to narrate Bananas, a 7:00 short that recasts the banana as a mushy, poorly designed, difficult-to-dispose-of, awkwardly phallic insult to the senses. The film gallivants across space and time, zeroing in on the revolting habits of the banana-eating hordes and flashing back to the narrator’s youth, when her parents would have glass-shattering, wall-shaking shouting matches over the pros and cons of the tropical fruit.
Mays’ voiceover, which comes nearly verbatim from the story, has been key to the film’s success. “Acquiring Jayma’s services was by far the biggest development for the film and the biggest driver of its success,” says Rosenbloom. “I knew that I needed to have a familiar and specific kind of voice, and we somehow landed our top choice in Jayma. Her distinctive tone complements the action perfectly.”
The film’s hilarious imagery – a sexy co-ed seductively downing a banana in the library as a couple of male admirers look on; a flashback to the narrator’s mother smashing a banana bowl on the kitchen table; a hefty, overbearing mother mutilating a banana and presenting it to her revolted son – was Rosenbloom’s handiwork. “I just took Chast’s words and extrapolated silly scenarios based on what the narrator could be thinking,” he explains. “Clearly it is coming from the brain of someone who could generously be described as obsessive, so I tried to figure out crazy and exaggerated scenarios to visualize each statement.”
Shooting these dozens of scenes occupied four days juggling multiple locations in Los Angeles, a process that was considerably complicated when it turned out that a carefully scouted and permitted location was going to be overrun by a massive bicycle race on one of the shoot days.
To complete the non-live-action portion of the film, Rosenbloom teamed up with animation director Eriq Wities. Working together at a small animation studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the two developed a short stop-motion segment in which a banana unpeels itself as typography points out its various design flaws.
The short film, which recently drew delighted reviews from the festival circuit, making pit-stops at the Seattle, Tumbleweed, Rhode Island, Portland, San Jose, Williamsburg, Rumschpringe, and Red Dirt Film Festivals, and earning the Audience Award at the 14th LA Comedy Festival, will not be Rosenbloom’s last. “I have a few other short films in various stages of development,” he notes. “But Bananas just felt right. I doubt whether I will feel as confident and clear while making a film as I did while developing, writing, shooting, and editing this film.”
Starring Jayma Mays
Directed by Aaron Rosenbloom
Written by Wes Meilandt and Aaron Rosenbloom
Based on the short story “Bananas” by Roz Chast, Originally published in The New Yorker
Produced by Brad Lavery, Wes Meilandt, and Aaron Rosenbloom
Executive Producer – Joshua Evan Greenberg
Cinematography by Pablo Berron
Edited by Jay Bender
Sound Design by Alex Niedt
Music by Alex Kovacs
Titles by Leonard Wilkes
About California Amish:
Not to be mistaken for the furniture-carving beach bums of your next least-favorite reality TV show, California Amish is a boutique production company based in New York that represents a diverse array of directorial talent. They produce a wide range of projects, including advertising, documentaries, short narratives, and music videos. As a highly nimble and malleable entity, California Amish is able to adapt to the needs of any client.