Did you foresee the positivity that would be generated?
No. I was really nervous. I think we all had no idea how the movie was going to be received because it has kind of a specific tone to it. It’s a comedy but it also has these moments of seriousness, but it also has these crazy gag moments in it. Many of us had never really seen a combination of those things done in this way before. When we showed the movie before Sundance we had maybe shown it to 12 people at a time. It went straight from 12 people to 1,200 people watching it in the theater at the same time. We were nervous, but once there’s a joke in the opening moment of the movie. Once people laughed at that it was just nice to settle in and think, “Well, they’re laughing at this, they’re gonna like the rest of the movie.”
It went from Sundance to SXSW. How was SXSW?
SXSW was fantastic. We couldn’t have asked for a better reception. My first film Creep played there. And then The Overnight played there on the same day in the same theater a year apart from each other, just couldn’t have been better. Audiences at SX come excited for the movies.
What was your process in writing the story for The Overnight and how long did it take?
I had just finished Creep with Mark Duplass. Mark said, “If you want to write a movie that can exist within a low budget model, set in one or two locations, using a small feat of actors, go ahead a write something.” So it was out of those conversations with Mark and I that the story for The Overnight came out of. We had this initial concept of having these two couples having this crazy night together. Then I went off and wrote it in a three or four month process, but it was also longer because I accidentally deleted the first draft of the script when I was writing. I was on page 70. And I didn’t save a file correctly and the whole script was gone. I had to start at square one, with the exception of my outline. That was an emotional process.
How did you meet the Duplass brothers, because they seem to play an important dynamic in your films.
For sure, Mark and Jay have both been huge supporters of me. I’m just grateful I’ve had them as collaborators but also as bosses at the same time. Having a boss or producer who creative you’re completely on the same page with and who is excited by what you’re doing on a creative level and trusting on a creative level is so rare was really validating for me in going into making these movies. I met Mark in a very strange way. My wife and I had just moved to Los Angeles and I was starting school at CalArts. Lindsey had just graduated from Berkeley and was hired as Mark’s nanny when we first moved to L.A. She nannied his kids for a couple years and that’s how I met Mark was just hanging out with him and his kids.
So, what did your wife think of The Overnight?
Haha. I showed her the script which I finished a month before we got married, and she told me, “ You are not going to make this movie. This movie is ridiculous. What are you doing here?” I said, “Trust me. We’re gonna shoot in this way that will have this kind of tone to it. She finally said, “Ok, whatever.” I went and made it and she loves it now. She thinks it’s super funny and now she’s grateful for its existence.
I know you’ve said this is not an autobiography, but are there any similarities between you and your wife with the main characters in The Overnight?
My wife is the one who has her shit together in the relationship for sure, and that was really the only dynamic I used for the couple in the movie.
The Overnight was shot in 12 days. That’s much quicker than what it took you to write it. What were those 12 days like?
It was intense. We were having to make a lot of creative decisions based on time, based on reacting to how a scene was going, or to what elements we had or didn’t have in that moment. It was a crash course in making a movie on that level and pace. We had a small crew, which helped us move quicker than normal. We were also shooting 10 of those days at night which created a nice focus for the whole crew. Every one that was working on it, they’re primary concern was finishing the movie. That doesn’t always happen. People are always on their phones now or there can be just a lot of weird downtime on movie sets where your mind can drift away. With this, everyone wanted to get home and go to bed after each shoot. This made us work our butts off trying to get as much as we could out of each day. All the actors are generally fun people in real life. We had a lot of fun shooting too. There really wasn’t a second of it that felt like work.
What has taught you how to blend an even mix of humor and sexuality together to the point that any awkwardness disappears?
I trust my own taste and my own instincts when it comes to this stuff. If there were any moments that felt like they were being exploitative, or would make people feel uncomfortable in a way that was wrong or disingenuous to the script or the tone of the movie, I wouldn’t include that. I’m my own harshest critic when it comes to that stuff. It was really just a matter of listening to myself and following the instincts going forward. And mostly having conversations with the actors. Because the film was primarily shot in the order we were able to react to, what we had already shot, and to think about the tone. The last scene of the movie has this climate of sweetness that you aren’t really expecting. That came as a reaction to what we already shot. Having conversations with the actors each day and having to make slight adjustments to the script on things that might have been seen as too crazy from the start. It comes down to having collaborators you can trust.
Well, maybe this interview with Patrick Brice will give you a little more insight into the film The Overnight and hopefully influences you to go check it out for yourself. As far as quirky comedies go, it makes a bold statement and delivers superfluous amount of laughs and delight throughout the entirety of its length. Out in theaters now, you will most likely find it available digitally in the near future, but I wholeheartedly suggest the big screen. It’s 80 minutes, so I could even recommend this make a great part one of a double feature for all my loyal fans of the theater, the dedicated moviegoers. Creep is available on iTunes and will be available on Netflix on July 14 for those who prefer the comfort of their own home. I highly encourage you to check these films out, as they are some of the freshest works of cinema I have ever seen, and they well equipped to satisfy your thirst for fun and amusement. He was as much as a delight to speak with as it was to watch his film The Overnight.