INT: Jody Hill
Regardless of how you feel about FOOT FIST WAY, you have to respect Jody Hill. He was so confident in his ability to write and direct a movie that he basically put everything on the line to make his dreams a reality. How many of us can say that? So it was with great anticipation that I sat down to talk to him about his films and his experiences so far in Hollywood.
At first glance, you probably wouldnít think much of Jody. With raggedy hair and a the beginnings of a beard, he walked up to us wearing an old, ragged t-shirt and a pair of warm-up pants. Basically, he looked like I used to look when Iíd actually attend my 8am classes in college. But through his young face and relaxed apparel, you could see a sparkle in his eye, especially when he started talking about Foot Fist or any of his upcoming projects. After talking with him, I was even more convinced this film is going to be hilarious and Jody Hill is going to be a big time director, probably sooner rather than later.
With FOOT FIST WAY, the comedyÖyou reference the Office, is this broaderÖwhat kind of comedy are you going for here?
I donít know if I would say this is broader. Itís certainly not going to be for everybody. Itís a little more specific than when you say Ďbroad comedyí and the movies that makes me think of. In a way itís kind of like Foot Fist in that there are moments that are uncomfortable and this kind of stuff. And also, thereís other types of things. Thereís a lot of genuinely sad moments or action moments that I think people are going to come into this thinking weíre getting ready to see this comedy with Seth Rogen and when they leave, hopefully they wonít know what to think. I think itís going to break genre rules throughout.
Whereíd you get the idea for this movie from?
I donít know really. My dad used to own some stores, these coffee stores that were in malls and I saw him fight with a security guard one time. I always remembered that so I thought that would be funny.
What were they fighting over?
Warning tickets. Thereís a scene in the movie where Seth gives the guy a warning ticket because he parks in the loading zone and the guyís a store owner. Thatís kind of the fight there because my dad kept getting warning tickets and he was a store owner.
This is clearly going to be rated R, so can you talk about the freedom working with Seth, who clearly adlibs a ton in between takes and working in that R rated environment?
Sethís great. Iím a big fan of films from the 70ís and that keep the dialogue real lose and roll with it. Itís more important about the character than the actual dialogue. Seth is kind of, maybe itís because he comes from a comedy background, his styleÖitís just adaptable to mine. Iíve never worked with Seth before but itís been real easy because if Iím like ďoh, well just go off on this topicĒ and heís right there with it. Whatís good is in this movie I think youíre going to see a range from Seth that you havenít seen before. Sethís always been great, but here heís not playingÖitís a much different type of roll than like the stoner-slacker guy. You have a guy thatís trying to live by a code, heís focused on doing the right thing. Itís kind of opposite than what heís done before.
How did you arrive on Seth for that because it is outside of what his usual thing is?
I donít know, whenever I wrote this I Seth in mind to play this role. We had made friends right before I pitched it and Iíd been a fan of his since Freaks and Geeks. I thought heíd be good for the role, he kind of looks like a mall security guard. I thought heíd be funny. Heís really good. He cries in this thing and thereís parts where he and Ray Liotta have a genuine fight. I say it rivals any fight thatís out there in terms of how hardcore it is.
Whatís it like working with a studio budget versus trying to come up with money to fund the movie yourself?
Itís kind of crazy. I think the rental fee on one of those cranes is more than what I made my first movie for. Itís weird at night when they break out the lights. Youíll look up in the sky and be like Ďwow, those are oursí, we did that. In one way itís a lot different in terms of like when you look around and see the scope of it. But in other ways itís kind of similar where you talk to your DP and your main actor, then everyone uses the walkies and it spreads out from there.
FOOT FIST WAY opened on Friday and youíve been here. Howís your weekend been?
Itís been good. Iíve been on the internet when I can looking it up. We did good though. We had like 3rd highest per-screen average, which is good. Next week it will go bigger.
Have you had feedback from studios or audiences?
The critics seem to like it, except for Roepert and Ebert. Ebert wasnít there so Iíll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Youíve been able to bring a lot of the same people from that film onto this one, is it important to you to have the guys around you, friends?
Yeah, definitely. I think maybe 10 or 11 from the crew are all from North Carolina School of the Arts, where I went to college. Tim the DP, Matt the camera operator, our sound mixer Chris. Even a lot of the actors, like I donít know if you guys saw Foot Fist, but the guy who does the demo and knocks the guy out, he plays the pervert, RandyÖyou have some of his nudity to look forward to.
Speaking of nudity, we heard that you guys are going to have male nudity in this one. What do you think all of a sudden all of these movies are pushing that? What do you find so great about it?
UmmmÖwho doesnít like male nudity? The movieís about a pervert in a Texas mall, and Ronnieís here to save it. I didnít do it for shock value and I donít know what other people think when they do it. But for me it just seemed like, we have a pervert in the movie, you might as well show the pervert flashing people. That was about as much as I thought about it.
Can you talk about casting Ray Liotta and what he brings to this?
Oh, Ray Liotta isÖI donít knowÖI grew up watching Ray Liotta in GOODFELLAS, so when I heard he wanted to do it I just jumped at the opportunity. Plus, something about Seth Rogen and Ray Liotta just sounds so crazy, itís almost like I had to put him in the movie just so I could see what that looked like. Itís great. Ray Liotta though, I think people are going to likeÖhe yells at Seth and they fight. Itís that angry Ray Liotta where you think he might murder somebody. Itís really going to be cool.
You had a hard time selling Foot Fist domestically, what about Internationally?
We sold the UK rights right after Sundance and then we sold the worldwide rights. Who knows? I guess if it makes money then you might see it in Brazil. Weíll see. Itís up to Paramount Vantage I guess.
Foot Fist was also about a mall culture with the chain dojos. So do you have a third part of the mall culture trilogy?
You knowÖkind of. Iím glad you ask that because that is kind of the thought process. Iíve thought about doing a third one but thereís definitely something similar. Iím interested in doing somethingÖitís more like average, ordinary people who are given a sense of power but yet donít have any power. Iíve always been fascinated by the guy you meet, no matter what he does, like the ticker taker at the movies who like, will yell at you for being five minutes late because he can. Itís that kind of guy, thereís something tragic and funny about it. Iíve been talking to Danny about maybe doing a third installment.
Do you have any other ideas, anything else in your back pocket?
Yeah, I have a few, but Iím going to wait until this oneís finished before IÖIím going to write the next one before I set it up anywhere so I can kind of keep control of it.
Is that sort of the plan for your whole career is to be writing your own stuff or do you ever see yourself directing someone elseís stuff?
I like writing my own stuff. If a book came along I would maybe do that. I donít see myself making comedies always. I was never into comedies growing up. I donít come from an improv background. I just kind of fell into it because I had an idea for a comedy with FOOT FIST WAY. I probably will end up writing most of the stuff I doÖbut whoís to say? I mean, if thereís some great big summer blockbuster that seems cool maybe Iíll do that, but for right now Iím enjoying this.
Youíve said youíre making a movie that might not be for everybodyÖdoes Warner Brothers know about that?
I donít know. Maybe a movie thatís not for everybody is what everybody wants to see at this point.
What did Danny do on the set?
Danny is a gang member and he plays a father.
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