Although in the movie Henry works as a coach with Andre, in real life Harry McMullen, works as a coach helping young people get jobs under the U. K. Kickstart Scheme. https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/kickstart-scheme
In real life, Jade, who plays Jane, works with Andy, who plays Andre. Andy is a “Thinking Engineer” who runs a purpose driven consulting business “to improve your world through better thinking.” Through his research, books, training and continuous improvement challenges, his team and network of partners really do help people have “light bulb moments.”
Andy Gilbert (Andre) appeared in a Fringe Play by the Leicestershire Youth Theatre in 1981 called “Family Snaps”. He has been in the audience of over 1,400 shows visiting 35 subsequent Edinburgh Fringe Festivals in the past 40 years.
Harry McMullen (Henry) performed at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe in the play called E8 written by Marika Mckennell. They won a Fringe First award from the Scotsman.
Brooke Allen (Leonard) first met Andy Gilbert (Andre) when Brooke was performing as Len Bakerloo at Moriarty’s Pub at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe.
This bulk of the script is based on seven recorded Zoom calls between Brooke & Andy that began when Brooke asked Andy, “Why don’t we do a play together?” In an email, Brooke proposed that it could be just the two of them talking and suggested Andy watch “My Dinner With Andre.” Andy cancelled his plans for the evening, watched the movie on demand and decided to do it.
The pack of cards that Andy developed helped someone save their wife’s life when the King of Hearts question “Who else could you possibly involve? triggered a lightbulb moment at a critical time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SjnHYq1VAU
Nearly everything that Andre and Leonard describe as happening did in fact happen to Andy and Brooke, exactly as described.
The idea of doing something for the 2021 Fringe came out of a complaint Brooke made to Harry early in 2021. Brooke felt that a lot of theatre is like most journalism in that it describes problems but doesn’t present solutions. Brooke wanted more of a Solutions Journalism approach to playwrighting.
Brooke (Leonard) did in fact fracture a vertebra in his neck in a bike accident about a month before filming. The neck brace came off three days before filming, so technically at that point it was merely a prop.
The first draft featured just Andre and Leonard talking just as the film My Dinner with Andre did. The feedback from beta readers of the script was that the conversation wasn’t enough to hold an audience’s interest. The decision to add a young couple was inspired by a comment Andre Gregory made, that if they ever did a sequel to My Dinner with Andre, it would be about the one thing they didn’t discuss in the first film, sex.
The Jane character was originally called Mary and was based on a superb young actress Brooke met at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2016. Although she had gotten excellent reviews she described her experience in the theater as a decade of resiliency training and had decided to become credentialed as an art therapist. Once Jade was cast, Mary became Jane. Because Jade was born in Spain and is bilingual, Jane developed a Latin temperament.
On the day of final shooting, when going through her wardrobe, Jade discovered she had a ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’ that she had forgotten about.
In My Dinner with Andre, Andre describes a sort of existential crisis he had that, among other things, took him to the intentional community called Findhorn in Scotland.
In this movie, Leonard drinks from a coffee cup that is sand-blasted with the Burning Man logo. This is a reference to a decade’s long existential crisis of Brooke had that first took him to Burning Man in 2009, ’10, ’11, ’15 and ’17 and to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012, ’14, ’16 and ’18. At the Fringe in 2014 he became depressed and decided that the only way out was to come back not as a spectator but as a participant. He describes what happened in this article: https://www.bootsnall.com/articles/experience-the-edinburgh-fringe.html
Brooke originally envisioned a play called My Lunch with Andre that was to take place at a restaurant at the Edinburgh Fringe. The play would actually be presented at a restaurant at the Fringe with the audience seated at adjacent tables. Because COVID restrictions would have prevented this, it was decided to make it a film. This was much easier to do logistically.
Although nominally a Zoom call, it was actually shot using a product called Riverside which creates higher quality images and is less susceptible to internet glitches because each participant’s video is recorded locally at the camera’s highest resolution and stitched together later.
Chris Wells, who handled all the recording and editing, commented that the cameras and backgrounds were in an abstract way reflective of the character’s relative stages in life. While Jane and Henry’s cameras recorded in 720p, Leonard and Andre recorded at 1080p, reflecting that they were further along in evolution. He also observed that Jane and Henry’s backgrounds were like a blank slate; they were just starting out on life’s journey. Leonard’s background was more complex but lacks a theme, whereas Andre’s theme is clear.
In addition to My Zoom Call with Andre, Brooke is the prime force behind the Floating Fringe project where performers and audience members can interact in an immersive space you navigate like a video game. You can enter this space both from the Fringe which runs from 6-30 August, 2021, and from the Virtual Burn which runs from 22 August to 6 September, 2021.
Brooke’s background is in mathematics, computer science and finance. His self-described ‘existential crisis’ began around 2004 when he began to think about what he’d do in retirement. He attended Burning Man in 2009 and realized he was merely a tourist, not a participant. He returned four more times, bringing interactive art pieces designed as sort of icebreaker games. In February of 2014 he retired and spent all of August at the Fringe in Edinburgh. After 10 days he became depressed, realizing that he missed work and was overdosing on entertainment. He decided that if he were to return, he’d bring a show.
The show Brooke brought to the 2016 Fringe was called (Cut the Bullshit) Len Bakerloo Speaks Truth to Power. It was inspired by the fact that the company that employed him for 18 years turned out to have been committing a massive fraud in their German office.
You may not want to read these before watching the movie.
Brooke Allen (Leonard) did in fact see My Dinner with Andre on the opening weekend and did sit next to Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn in a restaurant. He was changed by the film in the way he describes.