It might be the middle of the night in suburban Los Angeles, but Universal Pictures is keeping a party raging on the set of the May 9 comedy. Neighbors stars Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as Mac and Kelly Radner, a young couple who have just had their first child and who are initially excited about the prospect of a fraternity moving in to the house next door. Led by Zac Efron’s Teddy Sanders, the frat soon proves itself a nuisance and it’s not long before the relationship between the two houses devolves into all-out war. ComingSoon.net had the chance to visit the film’s proverbial battlefield and we’ve divided our report right down the middle. Check out thoughts from the “Family” side below and check back tomorrow to see what the “Frat” members have to say.
“There’s a lot of d*ck in this movie,” laughs Neighbors director Nicolas Stoller. “I’m not going to lie? It’s in my contract that there has to be a great deal of male nudity. It’s a fraternity movie on some level. Half the movie is about Seth and his wife and his daughter and the other half of the movie is a fraternity movie. And fraternity dudes like to take their d*cks out. There’s no two ways about it.”
Stoller, whose big screen credits include Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek and The Five-Year Engagement, is working directly with Rogen for the first time since “Undeclared.”
“Nick is super open and he’s not, like, protective of what he’s doing really in an aggressive way,” says Rogen. “We really learned how to do this the same way. Me and him, we shared an office on ?Undeclared,’ literally. We learned how to write together in a lot of ways. We both were exposed to production in the same way, really, especially from behind the scenes.”
“The best movies, I think,” Stoller continues, “are when you show up on set and you’re like, I can’t believe this is all part of the same movie? One day we’d be shooting a sequence where all of the fraternity brothers are drinking. They’re all doing crazy s?t. And the next day we’re just shooting a really sweet scene with Rose and Seth and their baby.”
Neighbors marks the first production for Rogen since he and creative partner Evan Goldberg make their directing debut on This is the End. Since they’re both producing Neighbors, Rogen and Goldberg have quite a bit of creative input, but Rogen stresses that the film is Stoller’s show.
“The ideology that we approach filmmaking with is really the same ideology,” Rogen adds. ” Be open. Be fluid. Explore everyone’s ideas and really just try to make the best version of the scene, you know, being open to all those things? One of the biggest lines between being the director and not the director is you can’t just yell sh*t out at the actors unless you’re the director. That’s basically it. If you’re the producer or the writer, you got to go up to the director and whisper jokes and then he decides whether or not he wants to yell them out to the actors.”
Because Neighbors features so many different themed parties at the frat house, Stoller is enjoying a chance to flex his creative muscles.
“I wanted to push it,” he says. “A big inspiration visually for me for this movie is ?Enter The Void,’ the Gasper Noé film. It’s such a visually fantastic movie. Brandon Trost who’s the DP on this and I watched that and kind of pulled it apart. We are trying to do some [shots template=’galleryview’]–> where light sources are constantly changing, and all of that.”
Stoller also made use of the production’s partygoer extras, handing out cameras so that so the actual actors could film insert shots.
“There’s been a big jump in the audience’s acceptance of found footage,” he explains. “?We give these little Canons and iPhones and all this stuff to extras and to our own people in the parties. That stuff cuts in really well [and template=’galleryview’]–> makes a party feel huge. If you have a billion little pieces, even if they’re not funny — they could just be, someone dancing, or someone shaking the camera around — it can make the party feel really big.”
Stoller’s past credits have made him an expert at shooting party scenes and, since Neighbors is being shot digitally, he doesn’t have to worry quite as much about long takes.
“The secret is to put the camera low and in the crowd so it feels epic,” he says. “A lot of slow-mo really works in party scenes? I think I’ve thrown so many more fake parties than I’ve gone to real parties. It’s so pathetic.”
Stoller isn’t just shooting the parties so that they look like fun, however. Several of the films’ parties also serve to add texture to Mac and Teddy’s battleground.
“This is, in certain ways, a war movie,” Stoller explains. “Seth and Rose are battling Zac in the fraternity. But, it’s really important to me that?. you understand everyone’s position. There’s no one who is really a villain in the movie.”
Rogen’s Mac would likely beg to differ on that point. The party scene being played out has Sanders and his frat throwing a massive kegger with their entire house converted into a marijuana hot box.
“[Teddy is at template=’galleryview’]–> the moment in his life where there are really no repercussions,” Rogen explains, “and he’s kind of not really yet an adult. Because I’m so kind of jealous and resentful, I try to destroy that? [Mac template=’galleryview’]–> is just really grappling and in denial about the fact that he can’t do all the fun sh*t that Zac does on a regular basis in the movie? I think part of what’s funny about the movie is [Teddy template=’galleryview’]–> recognizes that he might be me in 10 years also.”
Neighbors also gives Rogen the chance to reflect on his own maturity and explains that his recent marriage has helped him better understand the character.
“A big thing in the movie is that me and my wife are always on the same team,” he says of Byrne’s Kelly. “That was something that was important to us. That she not be the traditional naggy wife who’s trying to stop me from doing fun sh*t. There’s almost no conflict between me and her in the movie. Every time I want to party with them, she wants to party with them. Anytime I want to f*ck with them, she wants to f*ck with them. We’re really like a unit.”
“Nick put me through preemptive therapy for having children,” laughs Goldberg. “There’s so many fights that I would have had with my wife and issues I would have had in my own head. Now it’s like, ?Okay, I’m not in my 20’s. F*ck that, it’s over. I’m going to have a kid. I’m not going to drink as much. Okay, I get it.'”
“I’m very domesticated,” Rogen says of his own personal life. “Me and my wife watch ?House of Cards.’ We don’t go out and drink anymore, but, we both would like to, you know? We both constantly are grappling with, ?Do we go out to the club? Do we hang out with our friends and stay out all night, or do we just, you know, catch up on ?Game of Thrones’ and go to sleep?'”
“This is true,” Efron interjects with a smile. “He never comes out with us.”
“Exactly,” Rogen laughs, “but I’m all caught up on ?Game of Thrones’!”
Check back with ComingSoon.net tomorrow to read the Frat’s side of the story, featuring on-set interviews with Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and more!