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.
June is when summer starts to really pick up, especially with the release of JURASSIC WORLD and Pixar’s next great feat INSIDE OUT. And while we were excited about those, summer is also a great time for films on the indie belt. This month, we have two different but riveting films, oddly from the same filmmaker (Patrick Brice), that you should seek out: THE OVERNIGHT and CREEP.
In theaters today (Dallas on Friday, June 26th), THE OVERNIGHT centers on two couples (Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling, and Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godrèche) hanging out for a night filled of craziness and laughter. But more than that, this film is about seeing how far one will go when things get a little uncomfortable, and do they get uncomfortable.
We’ve all been in strange situations, but how you handle it is the interesting thing. That’s what THE OVERNIGHT hones in on, and quite effectively. Being different can pay off and it does so big time with THE OVERNIGHT.
Like THE OVERNIGHT, CREEP (which is available on iTunes today and Netflix next month) takes people from different walks of life and throws them on the same trail. This time, we have a freelance videographer (played by Brice himself) who takes a job filming the activities of this mysterious man (a creepily good Mark Duplass). It’s a mixture of genres, primarily horror and comedy, but damn if there’s anything like it. It’ll fry your nerves and have you laughing uncontrollably.
Fresh Fiction caught up with Brice to talk about CREEP, his friendship/film partnership with Duplass, go-to happy movies, SAN ANDREAS (you know, because why not?) and how this project was the little engine that could.
Hey, Patrick! What’s up.
Patrick Brice: “Hey, man. How’s it going?”
I’m well, thanks.
Brice: “It’s looking like I’m coming back to your state at the end of the month.”
Oh, yeah! I got an email that you’re coming into Dallas for THE OVERNIGHT. It opens on Friday, the 26th, I believe.
Brice: “Yes. That’s right.”
Well, I’m glad I was able to watch CREEP again before we talked. SXSW 2014 seems like so long ago.
Brice: “Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for watching.”
Absolutely. I’ve been talking to my wife about CREEP since I saw it at SX, so she sat down and watched it with me again. As soon as we finished it she said, “OK. We need to watch DUMB AND DUMBER or something. I need a happy movie.”
Do you have a go-to happy movie after watching a creepy movie?
Brice: “Yeah, it’s funny. My wife and I had the same experience the other night watching GAME OF THRONES. It’s a great show. My wife nor I are really into fantasy stuff, but the plotting is really great. It’s basically a soap opera with a lot of sex and violence. But there was this horrifying ending to an episode a few weeks back.
DUMB AND DUMBER is a really good one! That’s a go-to one where you can easily switch back to your child-like mind.”
Oh yeah! It’s our movie, really. We even included references in our vows.
Brice: “[Laughs] You didn’t wear one of those suits, did you?”
[Laughs] One of those orange or blue suits? No, I didn’t. That would have been funny, though.
Brice: “Ah, that’s funny. You know, I can’t really recall a specific movie, but I know that feeling. But I’m glad the movie has that effect with some people. I mean, I feel bad for your wife.”
[Laughs] She’s still kicking. It was great.
Brice: “I’m kind of excited about the movie maybe becoming one of these movies that people will see and experience and go through all the stages of ‘what the f*ck.’ The comments like, ‘It’s terrible,’ ‘This is sh*t,’ or whatever. I love the idea of this movie being a movie that people are excited to show other people.”
Yeah. You don’t get that full satisfaction until you’ve shared the experience with someone you’re close to.
Brice: “Right. It’s almost like you’re subjecting another person as a mild form of torture or something, you know?”
[Laughs] So true. It’s so true. Last time we talked you told me how THE OVERNIGHT came to be, but how did your relationship with Mark Duplass form? How did you guys meet and get this going?
Brice: “Yeah. Well, I had moved to Los Angeles in 2008 with my wife. I basically was wanting to go back to school. My wife had just graduated from Berkeley. So I applied to go to CalArts, California Institute of the Arts. It’s an art school but there’s a film program there. So when you go there, you’re going to school with a lot of different disciplines around you. It’s kind of a cool melting pot. For me, it was a chance. I needed to finish my undergrad, but I also kind of wanted to go immerse myself in movies for a couple of years. That was my plan, but I had no idea what aspect of the film industry I wanted to work in. Obviously, I wanted to make my own stuff, but I was really just going to go to school.
My wife needed a job as soon as we moved down here. She was a nanny the whole time we were at Berkeley. We had friends that put us in touch with Mark and his wife (Katie Aselton), and my wife was their nanny for three or four years. So I met Mark from going over to their house and hanging out with the kids, and we all became good friends over that period of time. Eventually, my wife moved on and is an interior designer now.
Around the time I was graduating from school in 2011, that was when Mark would give me advice on the steps to take. My thesis film was the short film called MAURICE, and it was this documentary about the last Porno Cinema in Paris that still plays 35mm film. It’s about the owner of the theater– are you seeing a theme here with all the sex stuff, by the way?”
[Laughs] Yeah, I was just thinking that.
Brice: “The owner of the theater and how they’re losing money and trying to keep their business alive. He wrapped his whole identity around it. Mark saw that film and really loved it.
The genesis of CREEP came from the conversations that Mark and I had on the next film I should make. Mark kind of pitched this idea that he originally had where he wanted to make an entire movie just by himself. Like he wanted to make a whole feature film where he would film himself the whole time. He ended up not doing that and it ended up morphing into what is CREEP.
I hadn’t done a narrative film before, and Mark knew that. Mark knew I was interested in documentary stuff, but he was really encouraging in terms of, you know, this being a chance to sort of dip my toe into the narrative world, basically.
That was the initial idea, and then we wrote a 10-page treatment of all the scenes in the movie. After that, we went up to Crestline, CA, where the house is in the movie. We filmed for about five days, which, for the most part, was still all in the movie, but we cut a lot out. The movie was originally called PEACH FUZZ, and it was this sweet, dark comedy. That was before Jason Blum got involved and pushed it more towards the horror genre.”
That’s really interesting. When I first watched it – it might have been the audience that I watched it with – I was cracking up. I did the same when I watched it again with my wife, especially at one part at the end. My wife, however, as you know, was super creeped out by it. It really is interesting to see how people react to it.
Brice: “Yeah! The experience of people watching this and THE OVERNIGHT changes wildly, whether you’re seeing it with an audience or seeing it alone or with a couple of people. And also, whether you’re seeing it at a theater or watching it at home on your television or computer. It’s a different experience.
I like hearing both versions. I like hearing, ‘Yeah. I watched it by myself and scared the sh*t out of myself and I couldn’t go to sleep,” and I also like, “Well, I saw that in the theater and it was great to hear all the people hootin’ and hollerin’.'”
Yeah, for sure. Do you have an ideal place and time that you like to watch movies? Personally, I like going in the morning or in the middle of the day, when it’s just a few people in the theater.
Brice: “Absolutely. No, I totally agree, man. That was the No. 1 cool thing about being at school and watching movies at school. You would show up to a 9 a.m. class and you would watch a film with a cup of coffee in hand. Watching a movie when you’re brain is waking up is one of the best experiences. I’ve had some of my most moving and impactful filmgoing experiences watching films in the morning. So yeah, I totally agree. It’s a different thing. Night time is the more relaxing time to watch something dumb and loud. I can’t imagine watching a dumb movie in the morning. I wouldn’t have the attention span for something like that. Something that demands a little more of me as a viewer– I’m always excited to watch when I’m more alert.”
Definitely. Like, I watched SAN ANDREAS at night. Can’t imagine watching that in my a.m. screenings slot.
Brice: “I just wrote a review for that on thetalkhouse.”
Really?! That’s cool. I’m going to have to go read that.
Brice: “It was my first-ever film review. It’s funny, as we’re talking about this, I’m passing Warner Bros. studio in Burbank and there’s this giant f*cking poster of The Rock.”
[Laughs] That’s great.
Brice: “But yeah, that movie was pretty stupid. My friend said this and I agree, but basically that movie is the best day in The Rock’s character’s life. Everything turns out great for him. He doesn’t have to save anybody else but his family. He loves flying helicopters and doing badass sh*t. He gets to skydive– it’s the best. There’s no like turmoil [Laughs]. But I kind of like that. I kind of like that focus on some level. All I cared about was watching the big destruction shots.”
I agree. It’s the best for that kind of movie.
Brice: “It looks so good now.”
It sure does. But, perhaps we should get back to CREEP [Laughs].
Brice: “[Laughs] Yeah.”
Where did the design for Peach Fuzz come from– the mask that Mark Duplass’ character has? Was it something you guys found lying around or did you guys put some thought into how it would look?
Brice: “Yeah! I mean, it was just a lot of Googling, you know– trying to find a mask that made sense. We wanted it be something that was scary but also wanted it to be something ridiculous– had some kind of silliness to it. Just like the movie, we wanted it to feel dark and weird, but also bring a goofy element to the film.
Neither Mark or I take ourselves super seriously when it comes to stuff like this. I think that’s one of the things that differentiates this movie from other found footage films: we’re not taking ourselves super seriously. It’s a given that people are aware of the conceits that come with movies like this.
The way I hope audiences engage with CREEP is they come to see CREEP not thinking we are better than anyone else, showing them how a horror movie should be made or anything. Instead, have a more inclusive attitude, where it’s like, ‘Yeah. Jump scares are fun. Slowly realizing that a character is evil or has bad intentions is fun.’ This is meant to be a ride. This is meant to be entertaining.”
I think you gather that from the trailer, though.
Brice: “I just put the trailer up on my personal account not too long ago, and I get to see all these comments, negative comments. It’s so funny to read them because it’s like picking on a kid that didn’t do anything to you. I’m thinking, ‘I’m sorry you feel that way, man. It’s only made to entertain you. It’s the only reason it exists. We’re not trying to be cool and be smarter than you. We just hope you enjoy it.’ So it’s funny to get comments like, ‘Well, this looks cheap as hell,’ or ‘This looks stupid.'”
Brice: “‘Yeah, well, that was the point!’ [Laughs]”
That’s funny. I guess we’re living in that age now where that is just the new normal. People are judging before they even see a lick of anything, especially the big studio films, like BATMAN V. SUPERMAN. People are already b*tching about what the–
Brice: “Joker looks like. Yeah, for sure.”
Alright, so I got to ask you something, and I hope it doesn’t upset you. But I’ve mentioned I saw this well over a year ago– what took so long to get its release?
Brice: “[Laughs] That doesn’t upset me. I’m over the moon that it’s being released at all, and that it’s being released the way that it’s being released. I think it’s really exciting. The fact that anything that I make could ever have the possibility of coming out in a movie theater– that is an indulgence. Nowadays, it’s just so hard, especially with independent films. The fact that it’s happening with THE OVERNIGHT— it’s already exceeding my expectations.
With CREEP, it got picked up at SXSW. It took a while to find the right place to get it out. That process almost took a year. Eventually, we went back to the guys whom we sold it to and said, ‘Hey. Is it alright if we try to take this somewhere else and see if they’ll pick it up.’ Part of that came after the fact that we weren’t able– we didn’t make the sequel right away. We had plans of making the sequel last year, but because of scheduling we weren’t able to make it happen. But they said sure, so we took it to Netflix, where Mark has this deal right now. They were really excited about it and hopped on board.
I’m glad it ended up shaking out the way it did. Now it’ll come out on iTunes for a few weeks, so folks who want to purchase the movie on iTunes at a discounted rate can do that. And then, it’ll be on Netflix, so everyone who has that can see it. We’re probably going to do a DVD/Blu-ray of some sort down the line.”
I hope so, because I am one of those people who likes tangible things.
Brice: “No, me too! I’m excited about that. I feel like I’m making a cake and eating it, too. It’s cool that a movie this small is going to have the widest possible audience of seeing it fairly immediately.”
CREEP is available to purchase on iTunes today, and streams on Netflix on July 14.