Editorial note: Portions of the interview have been edited and shortened.

Amy (Emma Roberts) is a poet through and through: A poster of Sylvia Plath hangs above her bed in worshipping fashion, she’s a walking encyclopedia of verse, and she stalks Rat Billings (John Cusack), her new favorite writer, with uncompromising gusto in hopes that he’ll critique her work. Amy’s world revolves around the be-all and end-all of getting published — indeed, nothing else matters to her, and she naively believes that fame is right around the corner. Noting that some of the most prominent writers were only recognized posthumously, and overly anxious to catapult her fledgling career, Amy goes so far as to shove her head in the oven (before quickly writing off the idea as suicidal plagiarism).

Saddled with immense student debt in her post-graduate existence and desperate for cash after her parents refuse to bankroll her literary lifestyle, she gains employment — albeit as a last-resort measure — at Adult World, the local sex shop. The unlikely friendships she forges and an eventual mentorship with the reclusive Billings (though unconventional, to say the least) ultimately teach her precious lessons that transcend poetry and show the dramatic, quirky go-getter what truly matters most.

Scott Coffey brings this well-acted, feel-good journey of self-discovery to life in Adult World, which made its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival last week. It’s the director’s second feature, Ellie Parker (2005) being his first, a Sundance Film Festival selection which earned him a Filmmaker Magazine shout-out as one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film.” GALO reached out to the New York-based writer-actor-director (who makes a cameo in Adult World as a bookstore owner) this week via phone to discuss this most recent addition to his cinematic résumé that’s making splashes in southern Manhattan’s annual film forum.

GALO: Adult World seems like it was quite fun to film from a director’s standpoint. Emma Roberts has some hilarious exchanges with John Cusack and her other co-stars and it seems like a light-hearted atmosphere. Can you talk about your overall experience working on the film? Was it as fun to make as it was to watch?

Scott Coffey: It was incredibly fun to make. It was really inspiring. One of the things that was most fun for me was working with a script somebody else had written, exploring it and opening it up. Having actors that were responsive to experimentation really made the movie what it is. It’s really actor-driven, and that was what was fun about making it. I really encouraged experimentation and exploration and that was something that I went after from the very beginning. It was a blast.

GALO: As a musician, I have to say it was tough for me to watch Emma smash the guitar in that one scene.

SC: [Laughs]

GALO: How many guitars were broken before you got the shot you wanted?

SC: [Laughs] I’m really happy you asked that! No one’s asked that and I really wanted someone to! Three. There were three cheap guitars, and she broke all three of them. One of the things the editor and I discussed when we were cutting the movie was we wanted to make sure that we held on her long enough to see that she was actually breaking those guitars. Those were real guitars that she was smashing. And she’s tiny, and a little bit ineffectual at causing any havoc or disaster, and that was something that we were really proud of. She really trashed those guitars! I showed her the cover of [The Clash album] London Calling before we shot, and I said, “This is basically what you’re doing in this scene.” That cover of London Calling, that shot is awesome, smashing the bass on stage, and I showed her that cover and I said, “This is you in this scene.”

GALO: [Laughs]

SC: She loved that. She had a great time doing it.

GALO: What did you find to be some of the most difficult aspects of working on this movie?

SC: I think the most challenging aspect of the movie for me was that I’m used to directing my own movies, the things that I’ve written. Working off someone else’s script and making their own voice my own voice was a challenge. I also wanted to honor the original script because the original script is really smart about the generation divide and the strange navigation between…I mean the generations aren’t that far apart but the world has changed so much with the Internet and being able to find anything you’re looking for, having everything at your fingertips, compared to finding things of value, or you’re looking for an obscure record and you find it and it smells a certain way, and the context of finding something that’s important. That’s something I wanted to bring to the script. So, I think the biggest challenge was making this movie my own in a way and putting myself into these characters. I kind of am Amy, but I also am kind of Rat Billings in a way. Trying to personalize those characters and making them as real as possible and making them as much a part of me as possible was the biggest challenge, I think.

(Interview continued on next page)