Star Apps: Jim Rash and Nat Faxon

"The Way, Way Back" writer/director/actors chat about the absence of apps in their new coming-of-age film, the ones they used behind the scenes, and the apps that would have made puberty much, much easier.

Jim Rash and Nat Faxon have the creative synergy that collaborators kill for. Although Rash is famous for his Dean Pelton role on NBC's "Community" and Faxon, for starring on Fox's "Ben and Kate" as well as film roles in "Zookeeper," "Bad Teacher," and "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story," when the two work together, it's Oscar-worthy. The two won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for co-writing "The Descendants," in 2012.

Thankfully, the duo have joined forces once again, this time to write and direct "The Way, Way Back," the poignant coming-of-age story of an introverted teen who breaks out of his shell over a life-changing family vacation. Out July 5th and starring Liam James (as 14-year-old Duncan), Toni Collette (as his mother, Pam), and Steve Carrell (as her domineering boyfriend, Trent), it's the perfect antidote to some of the more mindless summer blockbusters.

Nat Faxon (left) and Jim Rash (right) in the director's seats. (Credit: Fox Searchlight) sat down with the hilarious Jim Rash and Nat Faxon to chat about the absence of apps in the film, the ones that would have helped them when they were coming of age, and the apps they use to amuse themselves, today.

"The Way Way Back" is essentially 14-year-old character Duncan's coming-of-age story. So I'm curious, is there an app on the market today that might have made your coming of age a bit easier?
Jim Rash: I'm thinking of Vine and the creative outlet of apps. The idea of being able to express yourself creatively in six seconds; Or Instagram. I think of things that are visual and creative. But it's weird because it's an app. Obviously we had other ways to achieve those things, because we had camcorders. And we did make some horrible films, but those were the first things I thought of, because they're more creative. [To Nat Faxon] Words With Friends, for you?

Nat Faxon: Yeah, because I like words, so that would have helped. [laughs]

One of the things that really set the film apart is the absence of apps and technology, in general. But one of the few moments where tech enters the film is the iPhone, which 14-year-old Duncan uses to listen to music over iTunes. Can you talk about what that contributed to the story?

Rash (right) and Faxon (center) on set with Liam James (right) (Credit: Fox Searchlight)
Jim Rash: I think that the music on this iPhone is important because Duncan and his mother have a strong bond and the fact that he says, "Oh, my mom probably put it on there," when he's caught listening to REO Speedwagon... and is he listening to her iPhone or just influenced by her music? This is a movie about a son and mother who are at a moment of disconnection and we now know through that connection of music that he loves her implicitly and that they have a strong connection, although it's broken right now. So the music was a way to see what their relationship was like before we met them.

It wasn't a conscious thing to exclude technology. But it really was important to us, certainly in an age where technology sometimes hinders our communication, that this be a movie about people who weren't communicating because of issues between them, and the unspoken words in each other's presence.

And the water park is certainly devoid of anything. These people are taking advantage of their current moment. It's like when they're coming down the waterslide, they're celebrating stuff rather than filming it, which is our natural tendency. They're just clapping and experiencing the moment.

Nat Faxon: It's also hard having phones at a water park, because you can't go down the slides with them. You have to check them at the door, almost.

One of the many funny lines in the movie, was: "If you don't believe it, google it. " Do either of you remember the last thing you googled for verification purposes?
Jim Rash: I just googled, because someone was trying to make a reference to the grumpy puppets on "The Muppets," that sat in the balcony, Waldorf and Statler. And I finally said, "Can someone google it and we'll stop talking about it.' And they found a Web site where it was the top Muppets, according to this one person, and they were number two.

And how about you, Nat?
Jim Rash: Porn. Dirty porn?

Nat Faxon: No, it was probably googling for directions. So I guess Google Maps, maybe. It happened today when the publicist wasn't sure where the restaurant was so I googled it on my phone and figured it out.

So could that maybe have helped you more easily navigate the treacherous landscape of puberty?
Yeah. [laughs]. I was going to say that Jim and I, when we're around our family, are certainly sponges when it comes to writing things down that our mothers say or moments, so I would say it might be the Voice Memo app or the Notes app. Certainly there was pen and paper back then...

Jim Rash: We had pen and paper back then?

Nat Faxon: [laughs] The convenience of having something to record dialog, either secretly recording this or saying, "My mom said this," and being able to use that piece to inspire a creative story, script, a poem [laughs], really anything...

So what are some of the apps that you used during the making of "The Way, Way Back"?
Nat Faxon: For this movie, specifically, we used Spotify quite a bit as a way to find music for the soundtrack of the movie. We were on a small budget and therefore couldn't afford a lot of bigger, more popular music; therefore, we had to find cheaper alternatives or undiscovered bands and certainly Spotify was something we used to do that.

And some of the music was a direct result of Jim listening to something and then sending it to me and us being like, "Oh that's a great song. " Or telling friends we need these types of songs and them creating a playlist and sending it to us through Spotify.

Since both of you are known for your sense of humor, are there any apps that you use to crack yourselves up?
Jim Rash: Oh, what was that one where you take someone's picture and make them a different style, like 60s; it was like a yearbook picture almost. Was it PhotoBooth?

Nat Faxon: Call me on your phone and I'll show you. [Rash dials.] It's not showing up.

Jim Rash: I'm calling you.

Nat Faxon: Well it's not showing up.

Jim Rash: Your phone's broken. Anyway, what else? We play tons of word games: Words with Friends, Hanging with Friends....

Nat Faxon: I'm going to try to find this picture. This is the photo I made of Jim that I amuse myself with [reveals photo]. That was from PhotoBooth. I also like Comic Touch, where you take someone's face and add a bubble. And Vine, we enjoyed Vine on this trip, and Instagram.

Check out the trailer for "The Way, Way Back" below:

About Joshua Rotter

Joshua Rotter is a copy editor for and covers iOS.