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What Director Dan Mazer Wants You To Know About The Exchange And Borat - Exclusive

"The Exchange" tells the story of an awkward, artsy Canadian teen named Tim (Ed Oxenbould). Looking for a sophisticated friend, he sets up to host a French exchange student, only to get Stéphane (Avan Jogia), a sex-crazed free spirit who immediately becomes the most popular kid in school. Looper spoke with "The Exchange" director Dan Mazer, whose love of the project was clear from the get-go. "What I loved about it is that it speaks to something that we all identify with — the feeling of being an outsider, the feeling of being isolated, the fact that wherever you are in the world and however old you are, when somebody else from somewhere else comes in, they seem odd as well," Mazer said.

The director went on to gush about his cast. "Ed is just a phenomenon," he said. "I had to find somebody who had an innate sort of fragility and relatability. Ed was all of that, and just seamlessly slipped into the character of Tim like you wouldn't believe." He also had immense praise for Jogia. "It's the old sort of dilemma you get often with a builder, which is often you can't find good, fast, and cheap. For Stéphane, we were looking for funny, charming, and authentic, and Avan had all of those."

Mazer said the search went on for six months across multiple continents, but remembered meeting Jogia. "I'd made a film with his then-girlfriend, Zoey Deutch. Avan had come to visit the set and was just kind of ineffably all those things that Stéphane needed to be, which was kind of charming, funny, intelligent, obviously, ridiculously handsome as well." By good fortune, Avan was free and nailed the audition.

Both The Exchange"and Borat are about 'comedy coming out of character'

Dan Mazer is perhaps best known as the creative partner of Sacha Baron Cohen, and has a producer and/or writer credit for most of Cohen's work. "Sacha and I have known each other for nearly 40 years, and worked together solidly for nearly 25, or more, so there's something nice about just going off and doing things in a vacuum." When asked about how a tightly written movie like "The Exchange" compares to looser and more chaotic projects like "Borat," he said "I would say I think it's probably better to look at the similarities, really."

"I'm a great believer in comedy coming out with character," Mazer elaborated. "Sacha and I have developed Borat, Ali G, they're all, I think, despite being larger than life, very relatable, very authentic, and very real, and have backstories that I could tell you all about, and feel kind of three-dimensional, even though they're extreme, and the comedy comes out of that. I think exactly the same with 'The Exchange,' I think the comedy comes out of Tim Long's brilliant script where he's painted two fantastic central characters who are very three-dimensional, very developed. When you do that, jokes are easy, and they're also sort of believable."

"The Exchange" is now available on demand and digital.