For phone based interviews we try to present the conversation replies as close to verbatim as possible.
A staple I do in all interviews in order to start things off is to ask that you elaborate a bit about your work, and this particular film for those not familiar with it?
Jon: Okay yeah, so this is a Cary and Jon. We're directing duo that has worked on a few films.
Starting with Cooties. Our first, starring Elijah Wood and Rainn Wilson which was a horror comedy about kids eating tainted the chicken nuggets and turning into ravenous monsters and then our next film was Bushwick which was a film about Texas wanted to succeed from the United States and basically creating another civil war.
Which is insanely close to what we're looking at right now in the United States. And then now we're we are about to release our third feature film, which is Becky and the elevator pitch for that is ultra violent Home Alone with a thirteen year old girl as the protagonist.
One aspect of the movie that really stood out to me were the slick transitions. I really enjoyed seeing those as they compared characters during some key points. Where did the idea to use that style come from, and did you find it to be effective for getting the narrative and initial setting across?
Jon: Yeah, definitely I think. With something we developed in the script with the writers which were heavily involved with. Based on this idea that we really wanted this to come from the point of view of the thirteen year old girl. We wanted this story to really be almost as if Becky was telling it.
We almost at one point we had VO across the board, in the end we did we didn't use a voice over. That idea that she would be telling it so distinctly from her, her vantage point was one of the key driving factors across the board visually. Having things like transitions that kind of blended into each other and just the camera movement and palette, all these things were were strongly influenced from that idea. This is through the eyes of a thirteen year old girl.
Looking at this story, it’s definitely got a survival edge to it. What was it like trying to find a balance of prey versus predator?
Jon: For us it was it was a big part of just the whole idea of the movie and the premise and which is what attracted us to the film and the script was this idea of a thirteen year old girl getting revenge and how she could do this, well how and why she could do this.
So an important part for us was making sure she had motivation. Big part of the first act of developing the motivation for her to want to get revenge rather than just runaway. Then delivering on that aspect of the revenge.
How can this thirteen year old girl defend herself and survive versus the times when maybe she doesn't have any tools or a plan. She's going up against a hardened criminal. Could she really defend herself and for the most part we would say no, she doesn't she doesn't care very well when she hadn’t planned something or didn’t have help.
So I think for us that was the fun and the, Strike across the board with this film. Finding ways to have her overcome these challenges and also have her actually not overcome them.
This is a rather gruesome sort of film, it would be great to hear some of the details behind a couple of those graphic scenes, while also trying not to spoil things if possible for those engaging with the interview.
Jon: Yeah again; to us, that's the sales pitch for this movie. Is a, it’s a revenge movie. Anybody that likes a good revenge movie. Probably goes into it wanting to see some really intense violence exacted on the person who's deserving of that revenge. If you think of any of our favorite revenge movies. Kill Bill or the Korean movie Old Boy.
Bad stuff happens to someone at the beginning and you want them to make bad stuff happen to the people that did that at the beginning. It’s all about that catharsis of said thing that that. Bad stuff at the beginning is setup so that the end has purpose and meaning. More than just blood squirting or violence for the sake of violence it hopefully has more meaning in the exacting of the revenge. Taking that into the execution of the film we really focus on those moments because we didn't just want there to be a few punches or kicks.
Then just falling down, we wanted to see body parts getting torn apart or cut in half, or stuff that you haven't really seen and in a way you have to be, you have to take it to the next level because we have seen it all. Movies like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood are up for Oscar, so that's not even like a fringe genre “B” movie, that's like the top of the heat Oscar worthy movie and there is violence in that that it's kind of beyond anything you've seen. So I think it's just kind of what we love about watching movies, so what we wanted to put into the movie that we made.
We worked really closely with the make-up and special effect team. To find those moments, where we could get a macro lens really tight on an eye ball. Or show a tendon in a way you’ve never really seen it before. Also working with the sound effects team to add that feeling of, that sound of when the tendon is being cut. To get what that sounds like. You can’t really get that in a search in a sound library. Cutting tendon sound effect. You have to kind of creatively come to what that’s going to sound like, put that on the visual. The combination of the performance, make-up/visual effects. The way we shoot it with a macro lens, that all comes together in what is a nauseating, but awesome way.
There are some interesting actors in this one, such as Joel McHale and Kevin James. What was the pitch to them, and what was the process like in getting them involved?
Jon: Well the cool thing with both of them is that we wanted to subvert the characters that they had previously played.
With casting them in this movie by just pretty much the easiest way to say this casting against type. Neither of them had ever done anything remotely close to this.
That was kind of where we were going and then once they showed interest we had the these conversations and opened up a dialogue of finding that that perfect tone that fits into a movie like this and from the start they were both just willing and amazing collaborators.
I also wanted to highlight Becky (Lulu Wilson) in this. I thought she was great, what was the process like in getting her ready for the more combative and or physical segments of the movie?
Jon: Interestingly enough she basically just exceeded all of our expectations on every level. We knew she was amazing we've been following her career forever and we were excited to work with her and expected a lot of her but at every step she would just blow our mind. With the range she could express, the intensity she could go to. Whether that's inflicting pain or showing rage or showing sadness or emotional depth. From showing how much she loved her mother to how much frustration she had with her father to anger in the antagonist doing things to her family.
Across the board she could go to all those different places in ways a more mature actor probably couldn’t or would have difficult. At the same time we had a great stunt team with amazing stunt doubles. Like always, like on every film set you plan for the stunt doubles to do the majority of the stunts.
You create a schedule based on that and in many cases we would film some of the close-ups or some of the performance parts of the scenes with Lulu, thinking that we would need to then bring in the stunt double to do more of the physical elements and in just getting into the scene Lulu would just end up getting thrown around and jump around and roll around in the mud.
And you know squirt blood all over her and just take it to next level and she kind of actually saved us a lot of time by not having to use the stunt double in some cases. Really just whatever we thought, she was able to exceed.
Were there any challenges behind the scenes? Perhaps a day where the weather wasn’t agreeing, or something to that length.
Jon: Oh my god there was, it was like a running joke that there was an unexpected challenge, at least a handful on every day just because we were we were checking off all the boxes of difficult things to do on a film set.
Like child actors; dogs, you know working with animals on set. Doing stunts, doing stunts in the water, working at night with child actors. So all these things are things that just take up a lot more time on set. You have to make sure you’re safe to do a stunt so spending that time letting the stunt crew wire things and setting up pads.
All that just takes time and then you add a dog in there and the dog doesn't do what you want or and so that takes time so all these things kind of added up to a lot of challenges, but one of the funniest stories that we like to tell which is so ridiculous is that we were filming in the car which again has additional challenges because it takes a lot of work to rig a car to film around it. On the day we were doing a very emotional scene, between Lulu and Joel McHale (daughter and father). In the car, we had two dogs.
They just had to sit in the background, they just had to be in the background so that you knew they were coming on the road trip. One of the dogs was in heat, so during the whole emotional acting scene between the two actors. In the background there’s a dog trainer hiding behind the back seat, trying to stop the two dogs from getting busy. It was comical, and hilarious. At the same time frustrating and difficult since there’s a lot to get done and dogs having sex on set is not on the agenda.
In your opinion, what aspect of Becky do you feel most makes it stand out in the crowd?
Jon: We really think it’s the premise, we’ve never seen anything like a thirteen year old girl exacting revenge in this way. We also think it’s the end of the movie, where it ends up with the main character and some of the action she does.
We like the idea that it’s a fun movie, you can watch it and just have some cathartic release and just have fun. If you were really paying attention, and you think about what she does at the end hopefully it just makes you think.
For us, that’s what we hope really makes this movie different. It’s not such a clear cut and dry, the protagonist wins in the end and it’s off to the rainbow in the end. It’s a little bit more complicated, and hopefully that makes you think a little bit, to have something to discuss at the end of the movie.
Lastly I would like to leave a spot for you to say something or go over anything I might have missed during the interview?
Jon: I think you covered a lot of great stuff, guess you’re in Canada so you won’t be able to see it in drive-ins. But it’s playing in some drive-ins here, if it does open up there in drive-ins we recommend people getting out and seeing it safely, but with a big crowd on a big screen. It’s really fun movie to see in that way.
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