It’s Borat meets true crime shows in Adam Rodness and Stu Stone’s Faking a Murderer. The horror film is an homage to true crime dramas and also features plenty of unknowing subjects that aren’t aware that the criminal they’re chasing is made up. The film is out now digitally and on demand.
“Faking a Murderer follows two filmmakers on their noble yet perhaps misguided quest to track down a seedy-looking stranger they’ve discovered online who — in a disturbing video — seemingly confesses to a murder,” says the official synopsis. “Or at least that’s what they think. Seeing the popularity of true crime shows, they decide to try and turn this discovery into their own killer hit. With the support (both moral and financial) of a distributor, Stuart Stone and Adam Rodness set off on their journey to try and track down this elusive creep. When they bring the video to law enforcement, they’re told — repeatedly — that it’s really not much to go on, and they’re putting a lot of time and energy into what essentially is a fool’s errand. Determined to make this work, they flex, stretch, and break their budget in pursuit of a hit new crime story, but are they in over their heads?”
ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief spoke with the creative team of Stu Stone and Adam Rodness about their interesting pasts and how they managed to blend Borat with a horror film in Faking A Murderer. Check out the interview, and an exclusive clip from the film, below.
Tyler Treese: Stu, I read that you are both real-life brothers-in-law. When did you really realize that you gel creatively and decided to go into business together?
Stu Stone: Yes. Adam really did date my sister without me knowing for many years. I didn’t take the news very well and I was pretty much against it. It was like I told my sister, you can’t be with him. As soon as you tell her that, she’s gonna want to be with him even more. That was my mistake, but they actually ended up getting married. Adam and I, we were already friends prior. Now when he became family, it seemed like a natural fit. We were already doing stuff together creatively, and he was already working alongside on some other projects with me and me with him. So it made sense for us to start a company and trying to do this together because it’s a very cutthroat, business, pun intended. You gotta do it with people you trust. So, you gotta trust the guy that lied to you about dating your sister, but he’s not going to lie again after that.
So it sounds like that was what you needed to record the reaction of for a legit reaction.
Adam Rodness: [That was] the pinnacle, I can’t go any further and it has to be all downhill from there.
Stone: But yeah, we gelled creatively and we both have similar goals. We both liked the same kind of movies and we have a similar sense of humor. It just made sense. He’s my brother-in-law, may as well do it with him, right?
Adam, Faking a Murderer is such a strange blend of genre and it feels really fresh while watching it. How did this idea come to life?
Rodness: We are true crime fanatics at heart. Watching shows like The Jinx and Staircase, Making a Murderer, The Evil Genius. We sat down and just couldn’t believe what we were watching. To think that they’re so good that they have to be produced. Why not create our own true crime phenomenon and use it as a social experiment to see how far we could push a narrative using real people with this fictitious story. So we’re paying homage to the genre and we wanted to take the true crime fan and put them in our shoes. Here’s two ordinary guys thinking how would they would solve a true-crime murder, like ones that they watch on TV. This is the chance that everyone kind of lives vicariously through our characters.
Stu, this had a really unique production with a lot of the scenes dealing with real people. Kind of almost Borat-style. They’re unaware what they’re really in for. What challenges does that bring to the shooting process? I was talking to one of the writers on Borat and it surprised me that they did much more writing for that than they would do something totally scripted.
Stone: Yeah. You literally have to create like roadmaps that have like trapdoors in them. You know what I mean? It’s like, choose your own adventure on steroids. We know what we want to get out of people, but you’re not always going to get what you want out of people. So you have to sort of be prepared for the reality of what they may do under these circumstances. It took a lot of planning, but again, in order to keep it sort of real and legit, we kept everybody in the dark. Our family, our friends, our crew, any actors that participated like nobody really knew what was going on, except for Adam and myself. Even we didn’t know what the hell we were doing half the time.
I’ve said this before, but if you rely on people who aren’t actors to act, people are going to smell it and they’re going to see right through it. That will kill our whole movie. It’d be dead because people won’t buy that it is real. So we needed people to give us be real. That included our family and our friends and the companies that we were pitching to. We wanted real people to be giving us real reactions. When you watch a movie, you see the guy say the line perfectly, but what you don’t know is we were like shooting with this guy for 90 minutes to get him to say that. Also you can only do it one time because we’re also presenting this as reality to the people we’re shooting with. So it’s not like you film a scene and then you’re like, okay, let’s try it again. This time say this, then they’ll know that it’s not real.
So, you really have one shot to get it. So there was extra pressure for sure, uh, on that sense. Especially, there’s some key moments in the film with our assistant when she goes and looks in a trunk for a body like that really happened. She really did that. In order for us to pull that off, we almost had to like train her into being brave enough to go and do that. She really did. So listen, it’s very, very difficult to shoot a movie like this, but the end result is so worth it because it’s such a rewarding thing when, when it works.
I’m sure it varies a lot, but how did people respond when they find out what you were doing? Did you strain any of these relationships?
Stone: The girl that was our assistant loved us. I have not heard from her since. Our family was very upset. My sister, every time she would call and be yelling at Adam, we would roll camera on it. What about you, Adam? Because I was getting from everybody.
Rodness: A lot of this stuff, like we wouldn’t tell people what was going on. We haven’t told anybody really, other than our family who have seen the film and where we live in Canada. But the other people that we interviewed, they don’t know anything until they watch the movie. Like we didn’t go to them afterwards and say, “Hey…” Like, you know, we kind of kept it going the entire way. Cause we didn’t know if we’re going to have to use them again for a reshoot or something or get another quote from them or whatever. So for the people who know, I think they were like, oh, it’s Adam and Stu up their own tricks again. But for the people that don’t know us, we kind of kept it as just like this is for real. This is exactly what’s happening.
Stone: We even went on a ride-along with the police. Like that could have been a very stupid thing for us to do. I mean, we really literally went on a ride-along, showed the evidence that we had to real private investigators and real cops, and it could have gotten real sour. We’re very lucky it didn’t.
Rodness: We had to create backstories. We had to know what we’re doing because we’re building a lie, lie, lie, a lie. We have to back it up. If someone’s asked us a question about one thing, we have to know how to answer it. So it was very, it was a fucking mindfuck. It was a total mindfuck. That’s what we tried to do with everyone else was to mindfuck them into pushing our narrative to where we wanted to go.
Stone: To the point where like, even like Adam said, like we created an actual YouTube channel for David Stoner’s videos. That’s still up there. Nobody’s really even found it, but it’s a bait and tackle Mondays, like we say, in the movie and he’s David Stoner. All of his videos that he did because if we went to go talk to somebody about it and we’re like, “Oh, we found this video online.” They’re going to be like, where did you find it? We have to show them it like it has in order for the illusion to be real. They have to be able to see it. So we had to do that. You know what I mean? That was one of a million things, but it was a lesson in lying because a little lie compounds. You have to just keep lying to sell the lie. In the end, I guess we lied to everybody.
That’s kind of almost like a little ARG with the YouTube videos being there. You talked about mindfucks, Stu you used to work with Criss Angel. What kind of lessons did you learn from working on magic and does that carry over to something like Faking a Murderer?
Stone: The whole thing about successful magic is that tiny moment of the suspension of disbelief because someone who is watching magic is like, “Ah, well, magic isn’t real, but that, that look real.” Professional wrestling is like that too. Like, oh, this isn’t real, but that hurt, you know? I also worked with Jamie Kennedy prior, who did hidden camera stuff all the time. So it’s just like, this sort of style was very much embedded in me for many years to the point where I fell in love with this hybrid kind of style. Working for Chris was like going to Harvard, it’s like the best magicians in the world are working with this guy. So I got to see how it all works. Christmas is forever ruined for me, but I have that same rush when you can fool somebody like the way these greats do. That’s the thing that gets them off is like they got ya. This movie in a lot of ways is one big magic trick.
I mean, don’t sell yourself short Stu. You didn’t just work with Jamie Kennedy. You put out a rap album with Jamie Kennedy. Have you ever looked back at your career and marveled at how like weird it is?
Stone: Yes. Bizarre. Listen, you get to do a rap song with Bob Saget. You’re going to jump on board that project. It’s like, not everybody gets to say they did that. I’ve definitely been involved in a lot of weird quirky things over the course of my career. And I think when Adam and I got a chance to sort of take our futures in our own hand and create our own company and tell our own stories, we wanted to make sure that that like quirkiness is part of our brand because that’s who we are. We’re not necessarily a specific flavor. We’re like a mishmash of flavors.
And Adam, you’ve done music videos for arguably more talented rappers. Do you have a favorite music video that you’ve worked?
Stone: I take exception to that statement.
Rodness: People ask me that all the time and I always go back to the most memorable one, which kind of blew me away, was working with Eminem [on “Good Guy”]. It was back in 2019, just a couple of years ago for his last album, Kamikaze. He flew me down to Detroit, to his hometown. We met with the crew and we ended up doing this video. Seeing this guy come out onto the set is like, it’s like a hologram because you don’t believe that it’s him. Because he’s got that essence that when he walks into a room, he just sucks everything out and boom, that’s Eminem. He’s very pale because he doesn’t go out much because he can’t really be out in the public, which is terrible, but he’s a funny dude and the guy to this day I witnessed is like a crazy hard worker. He’ll sit down and go through every single take that we did and choose which ones he wants and he will edit on the fly as we’re shooting the video. But working with him was like, that guy was one of my favorite rappers growing up high school. He played a huge part in my upbringing and yeah, that’s my answer.
Stone: He raised you. It’s really interesting, like working with these types of like legendary names, like Adam mentioned Eminem you know, there’s one thing that all these guys have in common and gals having common, they work like 26 hours a day. They’re relentlessly crazy about their work ethic. Criss Angel, same thing, and I remember going on one of Adam’s sets last year. He was doing a video with Drake and Drake comes on the set. It’s the same thing. It’s like they come on with this aura. It’s like The Rock just got there. You know what I mean? It’s like, they have this sort of larger-than-life aura, but you can also see that it didn’t just happen easily. There’s so much work that goes into getting that successful. It doesn’t just happen by accident and it’s inspiring in a lot of ways.
Stu, I know you’re big into pro wrestling. I saw some of your manager clips. In Donnie Darko, you dressed up as Hulk Hogan. Are you still a Hulkamaniac and is that something you picked out?
Stone: Yeah. So growing up, I used to like root against Hulk Hogan. I watched to see if someone will beat Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior eventually did. But for that movie specifically, yes, that is a hundred percent my idea to do that character with that costume. I think the original script, we were supposed to dress as like a clown or a Viking or something, and I said to Richard Kelly, I was like, “Listen, if this was really me in 1988, I would be dressing as Hulk Hogan.” He’s like, “Well, we’re shooting it in a half hour. So go ahead and see what you could do.” So I ran around, I piecemealed together the outfit, we cut up like blonde wig. We made the muscle, like I was walking around on that set, killing people for days because that’s a complex scene, there’s bike riding, it’s over the series of a week that we’re shooting these scenes. Right. So I had to be Hulk Hogan every day and I’m walking around on set, just like, “Hey, brother.” Like it was so fun, but definitely that was my idea.
Adam, you’ve found success in this realm of comedic horror. How do you personally strike a balance between having those laughs in there, but also having those scares that horror fans really know and love?
Rodness: I take it from a guy like Alfred Hitchcock. He’s created this thing we’re taking like ordinary people and putting them into extreme, different, crazy circumstances and seeing how they’re going to succeed. That’s pretty much how my brain works on getting the audience invested in the character. We want to be the everyman we want to represent the true crime fan. We want to put yourself in our shoes and what would you do to solve this type of murder? So we try to really hit home with that empathy. I think the secret to it. So, thinking of the craziest thing that you could do and taking an ordinary guy and putting them in there and see how he’s going to solve his way out of it. That’s pretty much my key.
Stu, I saw in November, you were helping out some All Elite Wrestling stars tell their stories. What type of work did you do there and would you like to be more involved in AEW?
Stone: I would love to. One of my very good friends is Colt Cabana, who’s a wrestler over at AEW. Adam actually hooked it up, but I worked with Director X on that campaign for AEW. So I got to go down there to Jacksonville and hang with the crew and be with all the wrestlers and go to the shows. It was awesome. Coincidentally, I’ve been working on a show called Dark Side of the Ring for Vice interviewing all the wrestlers of Season 3 for about nine of the episodes. So after that AEW gig, I was always in Jacksonville because we always were interviewing AEW guys. So I got really tight with a bunch of the guys on that roster and in some of the girls too. I would love to listen tthat would be a dream come true to be All Elite.
Adam, there are so many great B-movie horror films. What’s one of your favorites. What would you recommend?
Rodness: Man. I mean, I’m a huge fan of the Scream franchise. You know, I like those campy stuff.
Stone: Those aren’t B-movies
Rodness: I’m even looking at like Fear Street, what’s going out right now on Netflix. Like that stuff is what is fun. I like…
Stone: Puppet Master. That was that was a fucked up movie. It was like, puppets that kill you.
Rodness: I liked that. I like the old stuff, man. I like Birds. You know, I like these crazy movies that, you know, again, as I said before, that I could envision myself being in that situation and like, you know, being that person. That’s what gets me invested in being in a horror film. They do have their little quirks and their comedy tropes. But yeah, the B-movie stuff. That’s a tough question for me.
Stone: Like all of ours, basically just pick one of our movies.
Rodness: I’ll go with Scarecrows.
Stone: There you go. The original from 1988.
So my last question here, you know, I’m going to give you guys the floor here. Why should people check out Faking a Murderer?
Stone: I think that people should check out Faking a Murderer because listen, we respect people’s time. You know, if you could choose to spend your time doing anything in there’s so much competition for your attention. We feel like if you give us 90 minutes of your time, you’re going to be very satisfied with your selection of spending time with us on this journey. It was made with love. We love what we do, and we hope that it sort of transcends to the viewer that they could tell that we had a great time making this. I think they’ll have a great time watching it, but try to make it all the way through if you can. There’s some good stuff in the credits too. But yeah, I mean, it was a very, very difficult film to pull off and we pulled it off in my opinion. I’m really, really proud of it I think that people are gonna enjoy it a lot.
Rodness: This movie is not just a one-time watching movie. This is a multi-watch film. You’re going to watch it the first time for what it is. You’re going to watch it the second time to see, trying to point out what’s real, what’s fake. What kind of things did we drop in? Whatever the Easter eggs are there, then you could watch it a third time and see a whole different lens on it. So when you see the film, it’s actually three different movies in one. And when you get there, it’s an incredible conversation and it’s going to be interesting to see who could actually separate it the most and what people will believe is real, we kind of put in front of them.