Friends star Courteney Cox directs

Courteney Cox

Courteney Cox says having no financial pressure from a studio was a perfect way into film directing.

The Cougar Town and former Friends star is making her directorial debut with Just Before I Go, which is being premiered on Thursday at the Tribeca Film Festival.

It features a cameo from her daughter, Coco, songs by her boyfriend, Snow Patrol's Johnny McDaid, and a scene with her ex-husband, David Arquette.

Shot in a speedy 23 days in between seasons of Cougar Town, Just Before I Go was made for less than two million dollars (£1,191,000), which the actress initially financed herself. She's hoping to land distribution at Tribeca.

"Not having the pressure of the studio, just doing it for myself," she said, "it was the perfect way in for me."

The film opens with nine-year-old Coco singing a song of Johnny's. Later, she briefly appears to spray her father, Arquette, with a hose. As a proud mother, it's Courteney's favourite scene.

"I couldn't have cut that out," the actress, who acknowledges their family dynamics are unusually friendly, said. "If I needed four seconds, that would be the last four seconds to go."

It's the first stab at feature-film directing for the 49-year-old TV star, who readied herself for the opportunity by directing a short, a Lifetime movie and 10 episodes of her sitcom Cougar Town.

Just Before I Go stars Seann William Scott as a depressive who plans to commit suicide but first returns to his hometown to get "my house in order." He visits an old crush, a school bully from his youth and others to unload his pain in a strange kind of bucket-list mission.

It may sound like a serious drama, but Just Before I Go (written by David Flebotte) has an offbeat humour that clashes comically with its heavy outline.

"It's hard to get those subject matters to gel and for people to feel it's OK to laugh here and it's OK to cry there," the actress said. "If I can laugh really hard and then cry, it's perfect for me."

"The more offensive the humour, the funnier it is to me," she added. "For whatever reason, if someone's not getting hurt, it's probably not funny to me."