On the last full day of the Hill Country Film Festival earlier this month, I got a surprise chance to interview a few of the key players from Intramural, the 2014 closing night feature, which world-premiered at last month’s Tribeca Film Festival. The indie sports flick was co-presented by the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival and named one of “10 must-see indie movies at the Tribeca Film Festival” by the New York Post website. Intramural claimed HCFF’s Cinema Dulce award later that evening. Learn more and watch the trailer on the official website.
First of all, thanks to festival director Amy Miskovsky for setting up this last-minute interview with director Andrew Disney, lead actor Jake Lacy, and screenwriter Bradley Jackson. Second of all, I wish I could post the audio from that afternoon—or at least the first forty-five seconds. I think you’ll understand why.
The other press has already cleared out before I make my way to the second floor of the Fredericksburg coffee shop that's hosting the Intramural press panel. As I creep up the staircase I can hear an enthusiastic chorus of—I kid you not—boy band One Direction’s greatest hits. I stop in the tiny stairwell and turn on my recorder.
By the time I reach the next floor, Justin Bieber’s “Baby” is being belted out by at least one person. I am actually quite content to stay hidden and listen to this, but I must not be quite as covert as I’d hoped; about ten seconds later I get a rhythmic, “We're not singing Justin Bieber,” sung in the direction of the staircase.
Carrie: Too late. I already had a voice memo going, so you’re caught.
Bradley Jackson: You caught us?
Carrie: You bet I did; so did Jette (Kernion, of Slackerwood). How are you guys all feeling?
Andrew Disney: Good. It's a great Saturday.
Carrie: It is, indeed. Jake, when was your first visit to Texas?
Jake Lacy: Well, my girlfriend’s sister lives in Austin. She got married the year before we shot Intramural so I had been here for like three days, but when you go for a wedding, that's the focus; it wasn't an experience of Texas.
Carrie: What time of year was that?
Jake: It was late spring, but it was hot already.
Carrie: That’s my first question: how did you con all those actors into coming to Austin, into 112° and 60% humidity, in July?
Bradley: We had dirty pictures.
Andrew: Yeah, we had a lot of blackmail. I don't think anyone really knew how hot it was.
Jake: I thought it would be hot, but I didn’t understand. I'm not going to try to make this a math thing because it's going to immediately be wrong, but you know those charts that are ever-increasing? Like a bell curve? It's like the feel of the heat. Between 95° and 100° is like, “Ha, yeah,” but the difference between 100° and 105° is like “Whoa.” And then 105° to 110° was like, “F— it; what's the point?” The incremental degree change causes a drastic shift in how it feels outside.
Andrew: Yeah, it was very hot out on the field. I wanted to stylistically do a lot of hazing, because for some reason every 80s movie you watch has a ton of fog. For no reason, actually; I don't know why all these 80s movies–
Jake: It’s like 1981, they invented the fog machine.
Andrew: Now, they’ve got to use it. Every interior they would let me, I would try to fog it, and for sound I definitely had to turn off all the air conditioning.
Bradley: But you asked how we got them and we tangent-ed off into the ether, so I’ll right the ship.
Jake: Please do.
Bradley: Andrew and I put together our kind of dream wish list, and we sent them the script, we sent them the offer for the agents, and all those proper things. But the one thing that we did that we learned from Andrew is we made these 2-3 minute videos that are part style piece, part wacky comedy, with the two of us just kind of going around Austin wearing short shorts and headbands and cut off shirts. It was like, “Hey Jake Lacey, come down here and you get to be the Rocky of our movie." We just wanted to show him, not only is the script funny, but we're funny, too. Jake can read a lot of scripts and go, “Hey, this is funny on the page, but will it be funny on the screen?” That was, hopefully, what we were trying to be. We made the funny happen on the page AND the screen.
Jake: Especially when you read a script that could go a couple of different ways. What is their tone as people? As creative guys, what's their vision for this? Do we have a similar vision, upon happening, of what this will become? And so then seeing those videos—which accomplish so many things—getting to see what you guys are like as people, what your style of comedy is, all these different things that for me, luckily, were the same things that I hoped this would be. It sort of assuages any fear you have.
Andrew: Yeah, especially with a spoof. Is it going to be Not Another Sports Movie, or is it going to be Airplane or Hot Rod? Or are they doing Scary Movie 6?
Jake: Doing something that is inherently self-referential in terms of referencing a format, instead of being self-referential in terms of referencing a joke that's made, that's two different things. To comment on your own joke is, for me, not that interesting, but it's still funny to comment on the moment at hand, which makes it a different thing. Hopefully, we're walking the line on that.
Carrie: So, talking about how you got your dream cast. Andrew, I remember when you were doing interviews for Searching for Sonny, which you wrote, that you talked all these awesome cult TV shows and actors that you were a fan of, and you wrote your script with your dream cast in mind. Bradley, you wrote Intramural; did you use the same strategy? Did you have your ideal cast already in mind, and write the script for those people?
Bradley: This is the first script I ever wrote. I wrote it in early college, so I wasn’t really thinking about cast at that time; I was just trying to write a script to write a script. At the time I was thinking, what if Samberg would do this? What if Seth Rogen would do this? Now, those guys don't fit in terms of age range or price range. I didn't start thinking about who we could legitimately cast in this until Andrew came on. Casting for Sonny is great, especially for a low-budget movie shot in Texas, which is what we were doing. He gets Minka Kelly! And also, how do you discover Brian (McElhaney) and Nick (Kocher), the two BriTANick guys? One of the main things I took away from that movie was he's not only great at casting known people, he's great at casting unknown people, too. I didn't know BriTANick and now I love them. Our goal was make a movie that 10 years from now there's no way we could have afforded any of these people because they're in so many awesome, successful movies.
Andrew: I think the way you do that is you just say, “We're huge fans.” It’s our taste, and you should believe that everyone else is going to like it, too.
Jake: I don't have an answer for how that happened.
Bradley: Jake was just an awesome talented bro.
The spend the next thirty seconds debating the proper pronunciation and usage of “Bro.”
Carrie: You know, I have you guys on recording singing some One Direction.
Bradley: That was actually Bieber.
I deleted my comment here.
Carrie: So, how did THIS team come together? I remember being at this festival two years ago–
Andrew: That's how we came together.
Carrie: You (Andrew and Bradley) both won an award. I think y'all were already friends at that point?
Andrew: Yeah, we were. And then we won an award and–
Bradley: What was your award called?
Andrew hesitates slightly. A memory of the 2012 awards ceremony is tugging at my brain.
Andrew: The Cinema Dulce.
Bradley: CINEMA DULCE! Alright!
Apparently, Andrew's acceptance speech at the 2012 festival consisted of the words “Cinema Dulce” being repeated several times over; he claims he didn’t know what else to say, but that doesn’t protect him from being mocked for a solid 90 seconds.
Bradley: We had already floated the idea across Disney, like, “Hey, do you want to direct this movie?” And then, Russell and Andrew and Dave (producers Russell Groves, Andrew Lee, and David Ward) hadn't seen Searching for Sonny. They hadn't really met Andrew. So, I was like, “He’s a tight bro, he’s super cool. He’s mad chill and super tight, so let's go to Fredericksburg and just kick it."
Jake: THIS IS IN PRINT! People don't understand that this is all a riff to you! You got to be careful with print, Bradley.
They chased that rabbit for another couple of minutes; I really wish I could post the audio.
Carrie: Okay, real business question: how was Tribeca?
Jake: Well, I was there for the screening on the weekend, twenty-four hours prior to the premier. It was amazing to go and be a part of something like that. Every year, as an actor, you think it would be a thrill to go to Tribeca, to such a respected hotbed for creativity. Seeing all these films and getting to be part of it is amazing, you know? It was also the first time I got to see the film as an entire piece, and it was a mixed bag of emotion for me: the joy of experiencing this movie, this story, these jokes, and the other half of nostalgia. I'm thinking back…seeing the story and the location at the same time.
Andrew: For me, the first 30 minutes of watching it was just like, “We’re in Tribeca.” I can't really pay attention to anything else. We’re in the theater and we’re watching the movie.
Jake: And you think, “I'm in a movie that people are laughing at.” Before this I’d only been to one other screening for a movie I’d been in, and it was like, “Whoa, people are enjoying this!” But other than that I’d just done theater, where you are actively doing the thing that they're responding to. Whereas television you create something in a black hole, and other people view it and you never meet them. This is the first time I've created something or was a part of something, and then was there to hear the response.
Bradley: And you hadn’t even seen…we did so much improv and so much weird, random, crazy stuff, just all over the place. I’m sure you were leaving set and being like,” Okay, they’ve got to put this together.”
Jake: For me as an actor, I think you get the concept beforehand of what these scenes are in the story, and then once you're in it, you’re in it. You're excited about this and you want to meet this goal. It becomes much more immediate and you hope that the work you did before shows up.
Carrie: Is there any distribution news that you're allowed to share?
Bradley: Working on it. It’s gonna happen. Tribeca is not like Sundance, where you just sign something overnight. It takes a little longer, so the hope is in the next month or so we'll have an answer.
Carrie: I have another question, but I feel like you’ll laugh at me so I'm kind of not wanting to ask. I feel like I should ask Russell (Groves); I feel like he'll give me a serious answer.
Bradley: Are you going to ask the budget?
Jake: What’s the question?
Carrie: Okay, so I was watching Lord Montague yesterday, and I always watch ALL the credits–
Bradley: The Lovely Woman on El Greco Cove?
Carrie: YES. Who is it?
Watch the credits on Lord Montague or Intramural and you’ll see what I’m talking about; the Lovely Woman on El Greco Cove, whoever she is, always appears last in the Special Thanks section.
This has become a “Who Shot J.R.?” type question for me.
Bradley: The Lovely woman on El Greco Cove is a treasure in Austin. The very first thing that Russell and Andrew Lee and I ever worked on is this goofy little short, way back in the day. The very first night, we were doing a night shoot, and on the street El Greco Cove there was this old cranky woman. We’d gotten permission from her husband to be there, and then his wife got really upset and she just came out and started yelling at us. And this is Russell's first movie to ever produce, so I think it's Russell's badge of honor. Every movie, he’s thanked the Lovely Woman on El Greco Cove. It’s always the last thing in the special thanks.
Carrie: I was afraid I was acting a “Rosebud” question, like I was going to be totally denied.
Bradley: No, no, but we should make it be some totally deep dark secret.
Carrie: Yeah, need to come up with a different response for when people ask you that.
Bradley: (muttering dramatically) The lovely woman. She was beautiful…
Jake: Just tell the truth.
Carrie: Okay, well I have to wrap up, but you guys can break into a course of the Backstreet Boys or 98° or whatever suits you.
Jake: I listen to “Step By Step” by New Kids on the Block to pump me up when I drive cross-country.
Andrew: I actually really like some Miley Cyrus songs.
Bradley: I love Creed.
Carrie: That doesn't shock me about you.
Bradley: I really, really like Creed…
Carrie: Okay, I'm really wrapping up, for real. Everybody say bye.
Print just can’t convey the loveliness of the Bieber-esqe chorus of goodbyes…