Q&A: Director Kyle Patrick Alvarez On The Shocking & True Story of ‘THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT’

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-1Preston Barta // Features Editor

Perhaps you remember reading about the Standford Prison Experiment that happened in 1971, in which some student volunteers played the role of prisoners and others acted as guards. It was a one of the most famous social-science experiments in history. Designed to last two weeks, things got ugly, and quick.

The idea stemmed from the 1961 Milgram Experiments, where participants were measured by their willingness to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience. After the results of that experiment were deemed inconclusive, Dr. Philip G. Zimbardo (played by Billy Crudup in the film) got the idea of setting up a fake prison at Stanford, where guards ordered around prisoners to see how they reacted and functioned in the environment.

The rest is history, and for you to see in this tightly-wound thriller that is equal parts horrifying and captivating. Director Kyle Patrick Alvarez (EASIER WITH PRACTICE) goes above and beyond what most filmmakers would go with the material. It so easily could have veered off into melodramatic ground, but Alvarez keeps this story as twisted as it really was, where guards pushed aside their morals and took advantage of their power.

Fresh Fiction had the opportunity to ring up Alvarez to speak about his shocking new film THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT, how he found out about the story, and his experience of making the film.

Read our full review of THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT here.

Interview with Director Kyle Patrick Alvarez:

0:00-1:05 – How he found out about the true experiment
1:05-2:19 – His access to the recordings and actual research / Frankenstein story
2:19-3:49 – The message of the film / in the shoes of the guards
3:49-5:08 – The mood on set / mind goes to dark places
5:08-7:57 – The visual look of the film / style choice
7:57-11:04 – Films that promote discussion
11:04-15:37 – How films are affected by when you make it / approach to ending the film

THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT is playing in select theaters and is also available on Video-On-Demand.
Dallas-Ft. Worth: Look Cinemas

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.