I recently interviewed filmmakers Andrew Schrader and Jordan Harris about their newest film, The Age of Reason (read my review here), as well as their earlier feature, Fever Night aka Band of Outsiders, their creative influences, and their recent success at the Independent Filmmakers’ Showcase.
For more information about The Age of Reason, visit www.ageofreasonmovie.com, or follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ageofreasonmovie. Andrew and Jordan also suggest to, “Keep your eyes peeled for it on the festival circuit later this year.”
Fever Night aka Band of Satanic Outsiders is available on iTunes and Amazon.
Bethany Rose: First of all, congratulations on winning Best Director at the Independent Filmmakers’ Showcase. What is the IFS, and what was your reaction when you’d found out you won?
Andrew and Jordan: The Independent Filmmakers’ Showcase is an annual film festival held in Beverly Hills. This year they gave lifetime achievement awards to Kenneth Anger and I think they honored Lars von Trier and James Franco. Also, Harmony Korine came and did an “encore” screening of Spring Breakers, so we were excited to be a part of it. The awards were a great surprise. We killed ourselves making this movie the last few years, so it feels great that people are responding to it.
Bethany Rose: What is the process like for being co-writers and directors? Did you start off knowing that you would be directing together?
Andrew and Jordan: We met in college about ten years ago. We basically worked in a hundred different capacities on each others’ projects – whatever needed to get done. After Jordan screened his silent film called “The Playmate,” I loved it and basically dragged him into this collective I started that was made up of artists and writers and musicians (which later became Bad People Motion Pictures).
So we decided to raise some money to make our first movie, Fever Nightinstead of getting full-time jobs or going to grad school. And the process just comes out of what we needed to get done. We both have different strengths, and fortunately, we almost always have the same idea of how something is supposed to feel. So it’s very easy for us to collaborate and co-direct. We are really, really lucky.
BR: The Age of Reason was part of a Kickstarter campaign. What materials do you make available on the Kickstarter page? What were some of the goals?
A and J: We first want to thank our Kickstarter backers; without them, we wouldn’t have a movie at all! At the time we thought we’d just make a small $20,000 movie, and we literally hit up everyone we could think of. We hope we made a movie they can be proud of.
Our Kickstarter got a nice plug from Indiewire who liked the prologue short film we made, called The Age of Bikes. And we ended up raising $25,000 total – the extra $5,000 from a last minute investor who wanted the executive producer credit, who has turned out to be a great partner (he was also executive producer on indie flicks Ping Pong Summer and I Used to Be Darker). Really, our only goal was to make another movie, mainly to get out the taste of Fever Night.
BR: I really enjoyed the acting in The Age of Reason. I’ve been a fan of Lochlyn Munro for a long time, and Tom Sizemore won Best Supporting Actor at the IFS. How involved were you in the casting process? I can imagine that as both writers and directors, you have a pretty specific idea of the type of actor you want for each role before it is cast.
A and J: Yeah, aren’t they great? They were always at the top of our list, long before we ever contacted their reps. We really did write the parts for them. At first we didn’t think we’d have the money, but as the shoot progressed and the investors liked what they saw, we were able to get them out to Texas.
We saw hundreds of actors total – it felt like we were casting forever – but we needed to find the perfect Freddy and Oz, or we knew the movie wouldn’t work. We eventually found Blake Sheldon and Myles Tufts. We modeled Oz after Joe Dallesandro from Paul Morrissey and Andy Warhol movies from the 60’s and 70’s… you know, minus the heroin. And we saw Myles’s video audition and said, “That’s the guy.”
BR: There are a lot of memorable scenes in The Age of Reason, and I don’t want to go into too many details about them here to avoid spoilers. But I will say “Baseball in the Wall” and “Monster in the Tree.”
A and J: It took us a long time to get the production under way, which actually turned out to be very fortunate. It gave us time and taught us the importance of rewriting. I think our shooting draft was somewhere around draft thirteen (after the tenth draft I think we stopped marking them with numbers and just used X’s – I think we shot draft XXX).
We were really able to try a lot of things out and make scenes build and connect, which is why I think those two scenes work. The monster was there from early on, though, because the script started as very surrealist. We brought it more towards center at a certain point, but still wanted to maintain some magical realism.
BR: Who are some of your filmmaking influences, and what are some films that inspired you as an artist?
A and J: Maybe it’s best just to list some titles (in no way comprehensive): The Good, the Bad and Ugly, Rio Bravo, Blow Out and Carrie (most De Palma, even if he’s boring), Taxi Driver, The Road Warrior, Ashes and Diamonds, The Passion of the Joan of Arc, Before Sunrise, Strangers on a Train, Hard Boiled– basically very style-heavy, camera-oriented movies. Also, “Casual Fridays” from TV Carnage really helped deprogram our brain from mainstream movies and television. Oh, and Kubrick, of course.
BR: I am a huge fan of horror, so I was excited to see that the two of you worked together as co-writers and directors of Fever Night aka Band of Satanic Outsiders, which is labeled as a mix of drama, fantasy and horror. It is also listed as your first feature film. What was it like going through that process of making your first feature?
A and J: Yeesh. It was hard. As DIY as you can get. Jordan came up to me before we even had an idea of what the movie was going to be, and said he wanted to light the whole thing with flashlights. I immediately said yes because I love the movie Detour(the original one, from 1945), and they had done that. In fact, when we started, the only other things we knew was that it would be about Satanists, and that the last shot would be the reveal to the entire movie.
The three main actors and our crew of three (including us) slept on a concrete floor, shooting on a nocturnal schedule. It was beyond exhausting, but I’ve never had more fun. We had little money, and ended up shoestringing production and post for another year or two. All of the psychedelic sequences were introduced in post… I think the script just read something along the lines of “Trippy Acid Sequence.”
It’s something you have to be somewhat young and stupid to do, because we doubt we could handle it again. We’re glad we had no idea what we were getting into, or else we wouldn’t have made it.
BR: Andrew, you attended UCSB and had some amazing mentors while there. Can you tell me about your time there and its overall influence on you as a writer?
AS: UCSB was great for me, because I studied film theory and history and analysis. They offer some filmmaking opportunities, but it didn’t have much of a screenwriting program when we were there. Most everything had to get done by students. Jordan and I ran a screenwriter’s co-op that met once a week to read work by anybody who wanted to workshop their writing. We also organized three-day seminars once a year, bringing in writers like Bob Gale, Scott Frank, Jeff Nathanson, Gary Ross, and Allison Anders. I was fortunate enough to win a screenwriting mentorship from Tom Lazarus, who has worked in the industry for decades. He really impressed upon me the importance of rewriting, and was always 100% honest. If he hated what I wrote, he told me. But he gave me the best compliment I’ve ever gotten, to this day, which was “You’re a good writer, and you could be better.”
BR: You also started the company Bad People Motion Pictures. The logo is made up of earth worms slithering in the dirt, and I find it very stunning! What is behind the name and the logo of the company?
A and J: Thanks! Yeah, we liked worms for some reason, I don’t know why. But there’s references to “eating worms” in both Fever Night and The Age of Reason.
Bad People started out as a collective of artists and writers and musicians living together in Isla Vista. We all played in three or four bands together and worked on each others’ films and scripts. I think the name came up when we were joking about how disgusting our house was and that we were “bad people.” Then we screenprinted some “We Are Bad People” decals and that’s the name that stuck.
BR: Do you have any upcoming projects?
A and J: We are currently finishing up an adaptation of a young adult book called How to Say Goodbye in Robot by bestselling author, Natalie Standiford. Wally Hall (Ping Pong Summer, I Used To Be Darker), our executive producer on AOR, optioned the book and asked us to adapt and direct. We’re gearing up to shoot in Baltimore in Spring 2015, so we’re excited about making another movie. We’ve also moved into writing specs, so we have a lot of projects in different stages of development.
Interview by Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Bethany Rose