How did you feel about watching someone else direct your script? ^ Not so hot. The Hillenbrands got the tone we were hoping for, so that was good. It could have gone really wrong if someone thought it was supposed to be like “American Pie,” but they saw that the script was an homage to old school screwball comedies. It was weird, though, to go from being in charge to being on the sidelines. There were missteps, I thought, but I was also envisioning a different film, the one we were going to make. I hate complaining about such things. All screenwriters complain about how “their” movie ends up. We chose to sell the script, knowing that things were going to be changed around and not done exactly how we’d want. So it goes. We didn’t have to sell it. Overall though, the film is funny, and parts that don’t work so well have a lot to do with budget and time constraints. Really, when it came down to it, I didn’t mind not being in charge. A lot of cool people worked on this film and it was a lot of fun to be on set everyday. Frankly, in the end, I wasn’t even paying that much attention to the shooting of the film. We were too busy eating the free food at craft services and horsing around with the actors.
How involved were you in the making of “Daze?” ^ Not much. The Hillenbrands told everyone the story of how the script was sold and people seemed sort of fascinated by how young we were, so we were known by everyone, which was cool. We weren’t stuck in the shadows or anything. But as far as decision making, it fell into what is probably the standard director to writer relationship. They’d ask our opinion and we’d give it and then they’d pay attention to it in no way whatsoever. Ah, that sounded really bitter. I’m not though. I don’t blame them at all. If we were in their position, we wouldn’t have listened to us either. They never saw any of our films. I’m sure they thought we were just these fresh faced boobs hot out of college. But really, we’ve made way more films then they have. We’re just young, so no one thinks we know anything. We think it’s somewhat humorous that Stabbing Me, released the same month as “Dorm Daze” was in limited theatrical release, is getting glowing reviews, while “Dorm Daze” is getting rather scathing ones. But truth be told, Stabbing Me would probably suffer the same fate with those critics as “Dorm Daze” did. They were theatrical critics, and they were watching a film we originally intended to be straight-to-video when we wrote it. Most of their comments seemed very closed minded. They couldn’t look past the low end production values and that seemed to influence how they saw the jokes, that everything was so cheap. I still like “Dorm Daze,” and I think it will find an audience on video. It’s not really a big screen kind of flick, ’cause it is so weird and wacky.
How did it end up in the hands of National Lampoon? ^ We don’t really know. It’s a mystery to us. All we know is that they were screening it for the big studios, and at some point Lampoon got wind of it and I think requested a screening. I wish I could supply a better answer than that, but we’ve never been told a real clear version of the story. But I think they came to us.
You talked about perhaps putting together a documentary about going on the road with “Daze.” Any chance we’ll get it on the eventual DVD release? ^ It all depends on when the DVD release is. I have a bunch of good footage from during the shoot and some hilarious antics from the press junket we did in Minneapolis (actors drunk? Gold!), and I know the Hillenbrands want me to edit it all together for the DVD. So time is the only issue. If they call me up while we’re shooting our next film and say they need it in two weeks, well, chances are it won’t see the light of day. So hopefully they won’t spring it on me.
Now that you’re big Hollywood screenwriters, you’ve landed your first writing assignment. How’d you get it and what’s the film going to be about? ^ Actually, it’s technically our second. The Hillenbrands gave us some peanuts and pie to write them a quickie movie called “Game Over.” We informed them about “Spy Kids 3,” but the title has not changed yet. We wrote it in late winter 2003, and they’re going to start shooting this December. Hopefully it’ll be good. The project you were referring to is called “Ditch Day,” and it is about freshmen who decide to skip school on senior ditch day. We think it’s funny. It’s a movie for broad audience teens, which we’ve never really tried before, so it’s a little weird to write. Getting the job was easy. Jim Henrie of 120 Degrees Films, the company that financed “Dorm Daze,” his son is David Henrie, a child actor who was on “The Pitts,” and the film is designed as a vehicle for him. It was Jim’s idea and he brought it to us to see what we thought. We’ve wanted to write a kid’s movie for a while and we thought the idea had a lot of potential. So, naturally, we turned it down, because we’re insane and we were trying to get another project off the ground. Fortunately we came to our senses, canceled our other project and got back into touch with 120 Degrees.
Any advice for other screenwriters moving out to LA? Have you landed an agent yet? ^ Quit now! Ha ha hahahahhahahaha… The best advice I can give is to try and make features. That’s what we tell everyone, especially high school and college kids. If you don’t produce the scripts you write it is hard to tell what works and what doesn’t. Trial and error is the best film school around. What works on paper might not work on screen and what seems only sorta funny on paper might kill on screen. The better you figure that out the better your scripts will be and the better your chances of getting someone’s attention. Also, short films are useless, especially when it comes to honing your screenwriting skills. They can be good for directors, but not really for writers. They say that luck is when opportunity meets preparation. I think that’s essentially true. Everyone in Hollywood is clawing around for something they can exploit. If you move out here and meet some people, an opportunity will arise eventually. The question is whether or not you’ve got the goods to deliver when it happens. And as of yet, we still do not have an agent. We keep meaning to seek one out, but it has not been a problem for us just yet. Trust me, it will, soon enough. Hopefully we’ll have enough credits at that point that it shouldn’t be too tricky.