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


-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

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.