The Overnight Director Patrick Brice on the Raunchy Indie Comedy

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It may be hard for some to determine where to place filmmaker Patrick Brice amidst the evergrowing independent film scene, because while he comes from the Duplass brothers stable, having teamed with Mark Duplass on the thriller Creep, with The Overnight he has managed to create one of the funniest movies of the year, regardless of its budget. 

It stars comedy veteran Adam Scott as Alex, who has just moved to Los Angeles with his wife Emily (Taylor Schilling from Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black”) and their young son and in an attempt to make friends, they accept a dinner invite by the eccentric Curt (Jason Schwartzman) and his French wife Charlotte (Judith Godrèche). What starts out fairly innocent turns into a few glasses of wine and smoking pot, as their deepest secrets start being revealed and the two couples start to get awkwardly intimate as the night unfurls.

ComingSoon.net spoke with Brice a couple weeks back about the movie that’s been killing audiences on the festival circuit with its raunchy humor ever since it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

ComingSoon.net: I’ve seen your movie a couple of times and I was in tears both times I’ve seen it. It’s a very, very funny movie, as I’m sure you’ve been told already.

Patrick Brice: Well, thanks so much, man.

CS: I’m bummed that I missed “Creep” at SXSW last year and it hasn’t been released so this movie was my first introduction to your work, and I don’t know much about you. Are you from LA originally? Where are you based?

Brice: Yeah, I live in LA. I’m originally from northern California. I moved to LA to go to Cal Arts and then I’ve been making movies in LA since I graduated.

CS: So was this inspired by anything that happened there or is it just something you wanted to come up with a good high concept idea for a comedy?

Brice: There is some inspiration in it from my first wife. LA can and does, and it could seem like a strange landscape to a lot of people who just move there, you know? It’s kind of a land of dreamers and crazy people, for better or worse. Definitely, Jason Schwartzman’s character, he’s kind of an amalgamation of a lot of different people I’ve met in my life, and also, in LA. The original genesis of the movie came from Mark (Duplass) and I having made this film “Creep” together, and Mark saying, “If you want to write some kind of smaller contained movie,” we’d use kind of the same production model as his film “The One I Love,” he said he would produce it for me. So I wrote a movie that would take place in one location primarily with four actors. That was sort of the initial constraints that I put on myself. Then, it was a matter of sort of branching out from there and thinking, “What can I do storywise with these elements?”

the overnightCS: I spoke to the filmmakers behind “The One I Love,” and I know in that case, Mark actually had an idea but didn’t have time to really explore it, so he gave them the idea and they ran with it. Mark seems to instigate other filmmakers to do things, in some ways. Is that the same kind of thing, he wanted to just try to get you going to do another movie really fast and this is what you came up with?

Brice: Well, yeah, so “Creep” was kind of a specific and strange experience, making that movie. Basically, Mark and I made this film without a crew, it was just the two of us and a video camera, and we’re both acting in it. It’s a found footage movie. So that film ended up taking almost two years to make. Our initial production was like five days of shooting, but over the course of two years, we would go back and do reshoots and we were eventually picked up by Jason Blum and Blumhouse, and they had us do some more tweaks and sort of push it more into the horror realm. Because it was just us, it was quite easy to do reshoots and really dial in the movie, to get it where we wanted. I think towards the end of that and us not really knowing when that was going to come out or what was going to happen, the genesis for “The Overnight” kind of came out of me just itching to do another film, basically, and to do one that was bigger in scale than “Creep.”

CS: Do you generally veer towards comedy? Do you have an affinity towards comedy over horror or do you just like a lot of different things?

Brice: No, I’m interested in everything. I’m a fan of all genres. I don’t really gravitate towards one in particular, although I did grow up, not only from being exposed to a lot of ‘80s comedies from my dad, like watching “The Blues Brothers” or “Airplane” or “The Naked Gun” movies, so my sort of formative years were watching movies by the Farrelly Brothers or “Wet Hot American Summer” and stuff like that. I’ve always loved absurd comedy. What I thought was sort of interesting about “The Overnight,” was that I sort of saw it as an opportunity to sort of inject these absurd comedy moments into something that was being shot in a much more realistic way, so that hopefully, the characters and what they’re going through is grounded, while at the same time, there is this heightened, sort of absurdist stuff going on around them at the same time.

CS: One of the big differences between this and “Creep” is that you have a better-known cast that includes a lot of busy actors including Adam and Taylor and Jason. They’re probably all in pretty high demand. What was your experience like casting them and working with them on set? How did you approach this one differently from “Creep” with that in mind?

Brice: You know, I approached this kind of like my first real movie, because “Creep” is sort of more of an experiment, in the process of it, this was a much more structured thing going into it. We had a script. We had a schedule. We had a tight schedule because of everyone else’s schedules. We ended up shooting the movie in 12 days, which was really tight. But going into it, as sort of my first big project, I got a lot of confidence in the fact that all these actors responded to this script as much as they did. We didn’t have the luxury of rehearsals, either, so any preparation was just me having conversations with the actors, explaining to them what I hoped to achieve with the movie, and then, us just getting a sense of each other before going in and making it.

CS: That’s great. I assume you found a house which could actually accommodate all the different things you wanted to do? Were you able to shoot in some kind of order, at least when you got oto the house and the party and all that stuff?

Brice: We shot in continuity as much as we could, but because of a few things schedule-wise–but especially because of the kids being in the movie and the fact that there were children in the movie–and not only that, there were scenes of children interrupting a sex scene, that ended up being a scheduling nightmare, where we had to shoot one half of a scene at four in the afternoon, and then the other half of a scene at four in the morning. But yeah, we did shoot it in one location, one house, besides the park and the massage parlor.

CS: It seems like having an interrupted sex scene is a Duplass trademark, so was that just a coincidence? I obviously don’t want to spoil one of the funniest scenes in the movie, but it happens very early on.

Brice: Right. Yeah, no, that was an idea from the get-go, that the movie would be bookended with that.

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CS: I don’t really know Judith’s work, but was her character always French as well? Did you modify a lot of stuff once you got the actors on board?

Brice: I think I modified in my head in terms of exactly how scenes and moments were going to go. Judith’s character was always going to be—I mean, it’s funny because I’d written the part for this kind of sexy French mom, and then she had been contacting Mark about possibly doing a film with him. So with Judith, it was kind of an easy transition into working together. We sent her the script and she loved it. She was actually one of the first people to attach herself to it. Other than that, we would meet every day before we shot and go over the sides. If any dialogue felt wrong or felt like it was something that was affected by the way we had shot a previous scene, we would change it that day. It was a cool way of being able to sort of collaborate. Because film is as collaborative as it is, you’re only as good as the people you’re working with, so we never tried to force anything that felt emotionally wrong. As a director, it was my job to just make sure I was listening to my instincts and trusting the actors and trusting these moments to go through.

CS: I’m amazed you didn’t have any rehearsals because Adam and Taylor are really effective as a couple. Did they know each other beforehand? Or was it just that they’re really good actors and they’re able to pull that off, that you really believe they’ve been married for four or five years?

Brice: I think they may have had dinner once or twice before we did the movie, and that was just them wanting to be with each other and talk about their characters and stuff. I think Adam and Jason knew each other socially, but they maybe met once or twice. But other than that, everyone was sort of meeting and getting to know each other for the first time, which helps, because it was a film about four people meeting and getting to know each other for the first time. So it made sense.

CS: It seems like Adam and Jason are up for anything. I was curious about the prosthetics they wear for their nude scenes. Did you find prosthetics they could wear or get them made special for this. How did you go about getting the prosthetics made for them?

Brice: No that was actually one of the first professional conversations that Mark and Naomi Scott, our producer and I had with each other, was going back and forth sending images to each other, trying to decide how big or how small each one should be. That was cool, ‘cause it was one of those things where you ask yourself, “Am I really working right now?” Is this considered work, what I’m doing?” It was fun. So, yeah, so we decided on sizes, and then we got in touch with, I forget the name of the special effects house, but we had them professionally made. It was quite easy to work with them. The only thing was, they were going to be swimming in the pool with them so we had doubles of each one. They couldn’t be in the pool for that long because they would get waterlogged. So there was some tricky scheduling, balancing that had to go on there, but other than that, they were fun. I think both Adam and Jason have said that they felt super comfortable in them, even though you’re kind of, for the most part, naked in front of everyone, they were sort of a comfortable thing for them, I guess.

CS: So you’re basically saying for pre-production of this movie, you ended up with all these dick pics all over your phone and computer that you might have to eventually explain to someone.

Brice: I know, I know. I have to explain that to my wife. (laughs)

CS: I missed “Creep” at South by, and I was curious, are there any plans for that movie to come out? I know at one point, someone was talking about doing a sequel or a trilogy or something about that, too. Is that still something you and Mark want to do?

Brice: Yeah, I mean, I can’t speak to it specifically yet, because a couple of things are still falling into place, but in the next month or two, there’s going to be an announcement about it, and everyone will be able to see “Creep” sooner than later.

CS: This movie is funnier than most of the mainstream comedies I watch, and because you’re doing it independently, you can pretty much do what you want and you don’t have to deal with a lot of different chefs telling you how to do the humor, because you obviously know how to do it. Do you feel at this point you can get one of your ideas and maybe do a mainstream comedy or do a higher budget comedy, one based on your idea or do you feel you want to stay in this kind of realm for a while?

Brice: I’m not sure yet. You know, I’m kind of in disbelief that we were even able to get this film made and have it realized in the way that it was, you know? So, I’m sort of still trying to decide at what level budgets or production size or whatever I want to do next. I am excited at the response to this film, and I feel like, completely energized and excited to jump into the next one, for sure.

CS: Have you started writing something else or are you kind of just waiting to see what happens with this?

Brice: Yeah, I mean, basically, between delivering the movie and all this press leading up to a fairly quick release after Sundance, the fact that it’s coming out June 19th, I’ve been super busy with that. In the last month, I’ve started sort of writing the next one, and I’m writing it as something that could either be made independently or it could be something that could be made with a little bit more money.

CS: Do you think you’ll do another movie with some of the cast from this one? I think something really clicked there with the five of you.

Brice: Yeah, I’d love for the chance to work with any of these guys, any of them again. They’re all so smart and funny and obviously, I’m excited about this movie getting out there in general, but I’m really excited for sort of people to see all these guys kind of in a different light than they’ve normally seen them.

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CS: I’m curious about working with the Duplass brothers as producers. Obviously, “Creep” was a very different situation, because it was you and Mark alone. This is one that you’re doing your own movie with them as producers. But they do seem to find these great comedies like Nick Kroll’s “Adult Beginners.” They’ve produced a number of solid comedies, so what are they like to work with? Do they basically just give you freedom and when you need something, they come forward and help out with that?

Brice: I mean, they’re great. They’re kinda godfathers. I mean, yes, they’re a phone call away if you have any questions or need anything. They’re incredibly supportive in terms of, especially the post-production process, of really dialing in your movie from that first or second cut to what it eventually is going to be. One thing I learned while making “Creep” with Mark was the importance of the testing process and the surrendering of ego that needs to take place in order to get your movie from good to the best that it can be. And a lot of that has to do with, you know, showing it to other filmmakers who you trust and sort of taking a poll of opinion and how they could actually apply that information. So I learned a lot on that side, from those guys, for sure.

CS: Festivals are great for that kind of thing. Both times I saw this were at press screenings, but both times the critics in attendance were laughing a lot. Last time I remember a comedy playing that well was maybe Shaun of the Dead.

Brice: Well, that’s so exciting, man. That’s so great to hear.

CS: I know at the Eccles, it’s a very receptive audience, but to see it at a press screening with that much energy in the room is pretty crazy.

Brice: I suppose that could be one of the more jaded places to see a movie, huh? Because you’re watching stuff all day. 

CS: Oh, absolutely. Listen, Patrick, it was great talking to you. Maybe when “Creep” comes out, we’ll talk again for that. I’m definitely curious to check it out finally.

Brice: Yeah, you’ll be able to see it sooner rather than later. I’m excited about it. Yeah, there’s good stuff coming down the pipe. Hey man, thank you so much.

CS: By the way, will it really seem obvious that it’s from the same director or does it seem like they’re very different movies to you, do you think?

Brice: “Creep” and “The Overnight?” Do I feel like they’re from the same director? I mean, they’re different because “Creep” is like a found-footage movie, but there are definite tonal similarities in the two movies, for sure. There’s a sweetness that’s mixed with the darkness that’s mixed with the goofiness that sort of exists in both of those, for sure.

The Overnight opens in select cities on Friday, June 19. Look for video interviews with the cast later this week.

(Photo Credit: PNP/WENN.com)