MANCHESTER, NH – Tyler Spindel and Brandon Cournoyer, both 33 and Manchester natives, are behind a new David Spade comedy due out on Netflix July 20 called “Father of the Year.”
Spindel directed and co-wrote the movie, while Cournoyer, his friend since their days together at Manchester Central High School, co-wrote and helped produce it. This is the first feature film written and directed by the duo.
“We met in high school and were great friends in high school. It’s actually when we first talked about this idea,” Spindel said.
The movie is about a typical my-dad-can-beat-up-your-dad argument between two college grads that gets out of hand when one of the fathers, played by David Spade, actually tries to prove his fighting chops and derails his son’s life in the process.
The idea came partly from Cournoyer’s dad getting “all up in arms” over who’s dad would win in a fight. Though admittedly, most of Spade’s character’s eccentricities are inspired by another friend’s dad from high school.
Cournoyer said the dad vs. dad arguments are a proxy for how young men measure themselves against their peers.
“If it comes down to it, you’re an extension of your father,” Cournoyer said.
Spindel also happens to be Adam Sandler’s nephew – son of Sandler’s sister, Dr. Elizabeth Spindel, a Manchester dentist. Spindel says ever since he was young, he and Cournoyer have worked as miscellaneous crew members on several of Sandler’s films, learning the ropes. On the first set Spindel worked on, for the movie “The Longest Yard,” Spindel’s job was to wrangle cable.
“I was not very good at it,” he recalls.
As his uncle has done in some of his films, Spindel included several references to his hometown in this film. “Father of the Year” takes place in New Hampshire, where the two main characters come home to after college.
Their high school is called “Webster High School,” which is a reference to Spindel’s elementary school, Webster Elementary School. There are references to Bunny’s Convenience Store and much of the signage, documents and wardrobe include “603” and other nods to the Granite State.
The movie was filmed mostly in Hudson, Mass.
Spindel and Cournoyer are celebrating the premiere today in L.A. and many of their family and friends from New Hampshire have flown over to join them in the celebration.
Sandler has been a huge influence in Spindel’s life. Beside being behind the scenes of many of his films — including being an extra in “Little Nicky” at the age of 13 or 14 — Spindel said his uncle guided him throughout his career.
“He was kind of my mentor and … taught me everything I know,” Spindel said.
Spindel has worked as a producer for sketch comedy shows like Nick Swardson’s “Pretend Time” and “Chelsea Lately,” and he’s directed several commercial ads. He’s also done his share of stand-up comedy at popular L.A. clubs, including the Laugh Factory.
Spindel was just nominated for an Emmy for his work on HBO’s “Night of Too Many Stars.” It’s his first time being nominated.
Since 2006, Cournoyer has been a production assistant on movies like “Click,” “Jack and Jill” and “Grown Ups 2.” In his free time, he would do stand-up comedy and write.
“It just takes years for stuff to start sticking to the wall,” Cournoyer said.
Spindel and Cournoyer have been working on the concept for “Father of the Year” for a long time. After they finished a working script, they got David Spade signed on and sold it to Netflix. It was produced through Sandler’s company, Happy Madison Productions. The movie had a multi-million dollar budget.
Spindel said Netflix is the best game in town.
“They’re really supportive creatively,” he said. “They give you so much freedom for what you wanna do.”
Comedy is Spindel’s and Cournoyer’s primary genre. They’re working on finishing another script they hope to shop around soon, the plot of which still a secret.
“I can tell you it’s about old people,” Spindel said.
Eventually, Spindel said he’d like to do a blockbuster action film, which is not unheard of for comedy directors — the Russo brothers (Anthony and Joseph) started their careers directing sitcoms before they steered major Marvel films, such as “Avengers: Infinity War.”
This summer, Spindel is filming in Italy as a second unit director in the Sandler movie “Murder Mystery,” starring Jennifer Aniston.
Spindel said both he and Cournoyer write jokes and story, but he focuses more on the story side, while Cournoyer churns out more of the jokes. At the end of the day, what he loves most is making people laugh.
“It’s just such a trip,” Spindel said. “To me, there’s nothing cooler.”
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