Sometimes a movie happens by chance. "Crystal Fairy" is one of them.
The movie came about after actor Michael Cera — of "Juno," "Superbad" and TV's "Arrested Development" — wandered into a showing of director Sebastian Silva's "The Maid" in New York City, and liked it so much, he contacted Silva to see if they could work together sometime.
After an appearance on Silva's HBO series "The Boring Life of Jacqueline," Silva cast Cera in "Magic Magic," set to be filmed in Chile. When financing fell through, Silva recalled another story he wanted to tell.
"It's something that happened to my best friend and me, 14 years ago," said Silva in an interview during the San Francisco International Film Festival. "I met a girl from San Francisco who went by the name of 'Crystal Fairy.' I have no idea where she is now. Someone that knows Crystal Fairy will have to tell her that this movie is an homage to her."
In "Crystal Fairy," Cera plays a young American who road-trips through Chile with three Chilean brothers (played by Silva's real-life brothers), hoping to try the mescaline-infused San Pedro cactus. They meet a free spirit who calls herself Crystal Fairy (former child star Gaby Hoffmann, of "Field of Dreams"), who turns everything upside down.
The movie was shot in 12 to 13 days, in sequence, and often improvised. "The making of the movie is pretty identical to the movie, chronologically," Cera says.
Though Cera insists that the San Pedro drug is more of a MacGuffin to get deeper into the characters, the cast actually tried some.
"It didn't work really well," says Silva. "Either we cooked it wrong, or having a camera in your face, it's hard to surrender to the effects of anything."
Cera enjoyed playing an edgy character, adding that purely "likable" characters are not very interesting. "Most people are endearing in a way. Even if they're always annoying, then they're really reliable. You always know what to expect," he says with a smile.
The three-dimensional characters add to the movie's warm, realistic "vacation" feel. It's so real that when Cera's feet were accidentally sunburned, Silva incorporated that into the movie.
Apparently, even with so few shooting days, the atmosphere was not rushed. "I have so many memories of free time," says Cera, who adds that he went on a long hike one day.
"It all translates to the screen," Silva says. "It was a blessing to shoot. It's a perfect vacation movie, perfect for the summer."
IF YOU GOCrystal Fairy
Starring Michael Cera, Gaby Hoffmann, Juan Andres Silva, Jose Miguel Silva, Agustin Silva
Written and directed by Sebastian Silva
Rated Not rated
Running time 1 hour, 38 minutes