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 wouldnt 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 Id 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 comedy you reference the Office, is this broader what kind of comedy are you going for here?
I dont know if I would say this is broader. Its certainly not going to be for everybody. Its a little more specific than when you say broad comedy and the movies that makes me think of. In a way its kind of like Foot Fist in that there are moments that are uncomfortable and this kind of stuff. And also, theres other types of things. Theres a lot of genuinely sad moments or action moments that I think people are going to come into this thinking were getting ready to see this comedy with Seth Rogen and when they leave, hopefully they wont know what to think. I think its going to break genre rules throughout.
Whered you get the idea for this movie from?
I dont 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. Theres a scene in the movie where Seth gives the guy a warning ticket because he parks in the loading zone and the guys a store owner. Thats 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?
Seths great. Im a big fan of films from the 70s and that keep the dialogue real lose and roll with it. Its more important about the character than the actual dialogue. Seth is kind of, maybe its because he comes from a comedy background, his style its just adaptable to mine. Ive never worked with Seth before but its been real easy because if Im like oh, well just go off on this topic and hes right there with it. Whats good is in this movie I think youre going to see a range from Seth that you havent seen before. Seths always been great, but here hes not playing its a much different type of roll than like the stoner-slacker guy. You have a guy thats trying to live by a code, hes focused on doing the right thing. Its kind of opposite than what hes done before.
How did you arrive on Seth for that because it is outside of what his usual thing is?
I dont know, whenever I wrote this I Seth in mind to play this role. We had made friends right before I pitched it and Id been a fan of his since Freaks and Geeks. I thought hed be good for the role, he kind of looks like a mall security guard. I thought hed be funny. Hes really good. He cries in this thing and theres parts where he and Ray Liotta have a genuine fight. I say it rivals any fight thats out there in terms of how hardcore it is.
Whats it like working with a studio budget versus trying to come up with money to fund the movie yourself?
Its kind of crazy. I think the rental fee on one of those cranes is more than what I made my first movie for. Its weird at night when they break out the lights. Youll look up in the sky and be like wow, those are ours, we did that. In one way its a lot different in terms of like when you look around and see the scope of it. But in other ways its 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 youve been here. Hows your weekend been?
Its been good. Ive 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 wasnt there so Ill give him the benefit of the doubt.
Youve 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 dont know if you guys saw Foot Fist, but the guy who does the demo and knocks the guy out, he plays the pervert, Randy you 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?
Ummm who doesnt like male nudity? The movies about a pervert in a Texas mall, and Ronnies here to save it. I didnt do it for shock value and I dont 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 is I dont know I 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, its almost like I had to put him in the movie just so I could see what that looked like. Its great. Ray Liotta though, I think people are going to like he yells at Seth and they fight. Its that angry Ray Liotta where you think he might murder somebody. Its 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. Well see. Its 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 know kind of. Im glad you ask that because that is kind of the thought process. Ive thought about doing a third one but theres definitely something similar. Im interested in doing something its more like average, ordinary people who are given a sense of power but yet dont have any power. Ive 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. Its that kind of guy, theres something tragic and funny about it. Ive 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 Im going to wait until this ones finished before I Im 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 elses stuff?
I like writing my own stuff. If a book came along I would maybe do that. I dont see myself making comedies always. I was never into comedies growing up. I dont 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 do but whos to say? I mean, if theres some great big summer blockbuster that seems cool maybe Ill do that, but for right now Im enjoying this.
Youve said youre making a movie that might not be for everybody does Warner Brothers know about that?
I dont know. Maybe a movie thats 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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