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INT: Club Dread's Jay

02.12.2004

Jay Chandrasekhar (it's not as difficult as it looks) called during a quick lunchbreak while on the set of his latest directorial gig, the Fox TV series "Arrested Development." It only takes one look at the clock to see how busy he is - it's 5:00pm LA time and he's just getting a chance to eat lunch. By 5:00 I've usually got coat in hand and making a b-line for the door but Jay is hard at work. Even as we talk, people shuffle in and out of his office and the phone continues to ring. SUPER TROOPERS brought Jay to the attention of Hollywood. CLUB DREAD could make him a household name, perhaps the next John Carpenter. Or maybe he'd prefer John Landis. I was lucky enough to sit and chat with the busy writer/director/star to discuss Broken Lizard's next film, his future apart from the group and how the hell he talked Jordan Ladd into a nude scene. Read on...

So what's the deal with this injunction/lawsuit Club Med has announced about two weeks before the movie's release? God, you know, since I've been working I haven't really heard much. The bottom line is (laughs)...I dunno (laughs). I would think Club Med would be happy. My first thought was that it was a publicity stunt. I wonder. I wonder if it is. Shit, we'll go down there and publicize their place if they want us to. But I don't know. I don't know anything about it. I was surprised at how late it came out. We've had this title for a long time. I don't know... Do you see it posing any legitimate threat to the opening date? Uh...(laughs), you know man I really don't know. I hope not. The worst thing that happens is we change the name. But I just don't see that happening. We're really just having fun. There's nothing malicious about singles resorts in this at all. Aside from having a maniacal serial killer. Enough of that, let's talk a little bit about your start at Colgate University. Yeah, we were all at Colgate and I got a chance to start a comedy group. This guy who had a theater group was going away to London for a semester and he wanted four people to do one act plays. So he asked me if I would do a comedy group cause I had sort of been talking about it for a while. I'm from Chicago and I had done some sort of Second City spinoff called the Improv Olympic. It was started by a guy who was one of the founders of Second City called Del Close. I kinda just called up all my friends who were funny and asked them to audition and said I was starting a comedy group. So all these people who hadn't done much in the way of organized theater and comedy - some had done a little theater - showed up and they auditioned and we cast them and we chatted about ideas and sketches that might be funny and we wrote them. There was always about 20% that were videos that would go in between the stage sketches. Colgate didn't have anything like this at the time and for whatever reason, we kinda got a funny group and we got kinda lucky and it just really took off. Instantly. Instantly it was a hit. So we decided to give it a shot in New York. So we met and we tried the same kind of stage shows there. And down there there are so many Colgate alum we were able to sell out every night. They moved us to Saturday nights and Friday nights right away and it just kept gathering momentum and our short films just kept getting better and better. This was a time when Ed Burns and Kevin Smith and Rick Linklater were making indie films in New York and I was working for a lawyer who represented all those guys so I said, "Fuck it, I'm gonna try to." We raised money and wrote a little script that took place at Colgate and we shot it. We ended up getting in the Sundance Film Festival. It was a film called PUDDLE CRUISER and from there we were able to get money for SUPER TROOPERS and we haven't stopped since.

I heard you had left your original name behind at Colgate so that incoming students could continue the tradition. It's still going, yeah. I meet a lot of them. I have a couple of them - one of them is in SUPER TROOPERS in a very small way, delivering a very huge cotton candy to some of the guys. And some of them as extras in this film. Some of them end up working on films that we make and my plan is to get a little more involved with them and go back and coach them in a direction that, in my opinion, they should be going in. Have you ever been up there to see what they're doing or watch their show? You know, I've never seen what they're doing. They've contacted me a lot more lately so I think I'm gonna start getting involved. But I would love for it to continue and it has. There are better years than others but that's to be expected. If you wouldn't mind now just giving us a short, little blurb about CLUB DREAD for those who aren't too familiar with it. OK, The plot of it is basically, Bill Paxton is a rock and roller like... Like a Jimmy Buffett-type? Exactly. Like Jimmy Buffett. And he owns a resort near Costa Rica that's devoted to his lifestyle of smoking grass and drinking margaritas and getting laid or whatever. So we play the staff of his resort. I'm the tennis pro and one guy is the dive instructor, one guy is the masseuse. So the Broken Lizard people are playing all those parts and one by one we get horribly murdered. We're trying to make a film that sort of slots in with those late-70s/early-80s horror movies. I've heard comparisons to AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. Like you've got funny people in a scary situation. Yeah, that's certainly the intention. We're all big John Landis fans and we were actually able to become friends with the guy who produced and edited most of the classic John Landis movies, George Folsey. We talked to him and we said we were trying to make a horror movie and we ended up being funny. We couldn't help ourselves. We're trying to make a comedy that's also a horror movie. The sort of effects you see are all in camera and they're of a style you had in the late-70s/early-80s. The blood looks like real blood. We never really make that much fun while the killing is happening although there are jokes sort of attached to that too. But plotwise we're trying to have a film that can really be FRIDAY THE 13TH or HALLOWEEN or one of those kinda movies. As a director, how different is it to film a movie like this which has a lot of horror elements to it as opposed to a straight-up comedy? It's different. The rhythm is different in directing horror scenes. It tends to be that longer shorts work well. Where you're able to build up the creep factor. The key thing was to balance them. You didn't want the horror scenes to feel all slow and the comedy scenes feel quick so we just watched a ton of horror movies and saw what scared us and then tried to design our scares around that. You start to see a pattern. In HALLOWEEN you'll see the actors and then there will be open window frames. So even if nothing's gonna happen there's a sense of dread that, oh shit, something's gonna come through that window. It's those kind of little tricks that you start to recognize and learn about. Besides HALLOWEEN and AMERICAN WEREWOLF, what are some of the films CLUB DREAD is modelled after? We watched THE SHINING. We watched FRIDAY THE 13TH, which... You know it was a great film when I was a teenager. It doesn't quite hold up as much. It's of course so fabulously influential, I'm not trying to slam it, it's more... I dunno, anyway, it helped with HALLOWEEN to create this genre. We watched AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. We watched SCREAM. We're not doing a self-referential thing. We don't ever refer to horror-comedies or to pop-culture so the structure is different, but I think SCREAM is a really funny, really scary movie. I think we're trying to do more of a Monty Python thing in general so our films have to be weighted a little more on the funny side than the horror side. But when we scare people, we're hoping they jump. The goal is to sort of scare them and then out of that, hit them with a laugh so they'll keep going from scared to laughing, scared to laughing. Was the role Bill Paxton plays always written for an outside actor or were one of guys originally supposed to play that character? Well, Bill always has his eye on who ever is up-and-coming so he's one of those stars who has his agents looking for somebody who shows promise. His agent told him about us and he watched SUPER TROOPERS and he read the part and said, "God this is the perfect part." He called us and said we wanted to play the part and once he did that we said, "Sure no problem!" He turned out to be the perfect guy. You can't underestimate how important it is to have somebody who wants to play the part. It makes the entire shoot a lot more pleasant and they're really, really up for it and not doing it just for some paycheck or whatever. They're doing it because they believe in it and they love it and are excited about it. Bill got down there and we all just loved it. He's just like an older version of us. We're all really good friends with the guy now. He's just a kick-ass guy.

Have you thought at all about life after Broken Lizard? You know, yeah... Besides Broken Lizard I've been doing all this "Arrested Development" stuff, which, this show is so good, it's just fun making a Broken Lizard movie. The writers are so good and the actors are so great [on "Development"] it's unbelievable. But I don't know, I only want to do stuff that is great. It's hard to direct stuff that you don't really believe in and good scripts are hard to come by. That said I've been writing some things with friends of mine who aren't in Broken Lizard. We want to make another six movies together. But after that we'll see what happens. I know everyone else would like to do other stuff. Just because somehow doing other stuff validates you (laughs) in a peculiar way. Well if you look at Monty Python, they eventually went off to do other things. Terry Gilliam was directing and John Cleese took new acting projects -- The guys in Broken Lizard are all really funny guys and motivated and I imagine if we're lucky we'll all get to continue on. And if we're not, we'll just continue to make movies by ourselves. Cause we can make low-budget movies. We're all guaranteed parts in our movies. Can you tell us about your next movie with Broken Lizard? I heard it's got something to do with Plato and Socrates as teenagers? They're actually in college. But yeah. Did you hear what it was all about. Not really, no. Basically, Plato is a freshman wrestling recruit at Athens University. It's big time wrestling so they've given him a chariot to wrestle there. They want him to wrestle in the Olympics but he's failing his class "Basic Thought." Socrates is a senior and a hot-shot philosopher and the school asks him to get him through so he can wrestle for them. Now Plato's a little thick and he does some cheating and passes his test and the two travel to Mt. Olympus in the chariot. Along the way, Zeus, Poseidon and Hades, who are all wrestling fans, make a bet between each other as to whether he'll make it. It's a big Greek epic. It's based on a stage sketch we did in New York a while back which was really funny. Is that lined up to be the next one or is that just one possibility? That's the one we want to make yet but we haven't set it up yet. I think we're going to wait and see what happens with the release of CLUB DREAD. But we've got two or three other scripts we could make as well. We were lucky in that, as we were coming up, we had a fair amount of time to work on scripts and we've built up a nice little library. If you wouldn't mind, before we wrap up, some fans wrote in with some questions for you. Lynn Minmei writes, "Do you feel pleased or unhappy with the comparisons Broken Lizard has had with other comedy troupes such as Monty Python?" Well Python is the group we are all trying to emulate. They made, I dunno, five films and then the TV show and they were just so damn funny. I get nervous, frankly, when people mention that cause I don't want people to think that we think we're like that. By the same token, we modeled our group after them in some ways. There are five of us and there were five of them. We all write together and we have an internal director. The structure of it is the same. The style and the type of joke is different. The Kids In The Hall we really good but besides "Brain Candy" they never made any more movies. There are a number of great comedy groups that are on stage right now. You could make the argument that "Saturday Night Live" is a new comedy group every year. But we're happy to be mentioned with those guys (laughs). There haven't been that many who've been able to make films, bottom line.

TheJadedGamer asked "On the CABIN FEVER 'Girl's Commentary,' Eli Roth asks Jordan Ladd why she didn't show her boobs in Cabin Fever, and why she is showing them to the Broken Lizard crew in CLUB DREAD. How does it feel having Jordan Ladd naked in your movie and not in CABIN FEVER?" That's a funny story but (laughs) I'm friends with Eli and he joked about it and we laughed but he's not that mad. Yeah, he was joking about it on the commentary of the CABIN FEVER DVD with Jordan Ladd. She was on the commentary too joking about it? Yeah. He's a great guy. Super smart and I think his movie was hilarious and scary. Jordan did it because it was right and fit in with our movie. Nah, I dunno if it fit in with our movie (laughs). She was decomposing [in CABIN FEVER] and I don't know if she wanted to have her top off while that was happening.

Jay had to run and get back to "Arrested Development" (look for the upcoming two-episode arc where Julia Louis-Dreyfus guest stars) but it was great of him to put some time aside on his busy schedule to talk. For more on CLUB DREAD, check out the interview with the rest of the members of Broken Lizard here:

Paul Soter - Cinema Confidential
Lycos - Kevin Heffernan
iFilm - Erik Stolhanske
Hollywood.com - Steve Lemme

Source: JoBlo.com
Tags: Hollywood

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