Ethan Hurwitz is truly living the dream. In a recent Facebook post, he stated, “The trouble I got myself into is that I put everything I had into an art project, specifically, a independently-produced feature length satire/comedy. I have truly become a starving artist, so to speak. But with hard work, I can get myself out of that on my own. What I cannot do on my own is bring this project to its full potential, and this is what I am hoping some of you can help us with.”
I can’t put it better than Hurwitz, of local prog/psych/math rock outfit ONSLO, did. He’s been hard at work creating THE MOVIE, a “stoner” odyssey comedy that seems absolutely radical. Trouble is, he needs some of your help to make the movie as awesome as it can be. If you’ve got a little extra $ in your pocket, consider giving it here in exchange for some sweet swag. But act fast! This crowd-sourcing fundraiser end on June 26th, 11:59PM.
I got to chat with the man himself and the team about this most exciting project.
AS: Can you tell me a bit about yourselves? Who are you? What do you do? What brought you to the Boston area and why have you stuck around?
EH: We are a couple of righteous dudes who have been hanging out for a good, long time. As we matured, we were both lucky enough to have the minds capable of seeing how fucked up, evil, and oppressive the powers running the world are. Tony is a chef and I am mostly a painter/musician/teacher.
I have been living in Boston off and on for the past 6 years or so, mostly because of girlfriends, a truly smart choice… I have stuck around because my friends and I play a lot of shows around town, and I love good Asian and Iranian food.
AS: What made you decide to make this movie (or a movie period)?
EH: We had a lot of (what we thought was) really strong comedic material, just things we would joke about with our friends and would kill them. We thought somehow, someday, we could bring it all together into one monster. After a psychedelic experience in Ocean Park, ME, we said, “Well, what are we waiting for?”
AS: What is this film about? What movies and stories did you draw inspiration from? Are there any favorite movies of yours that influenced you making this one? It seems as though this film is going to be something like a “Stoner Bro Comedy Odyssey”? Is this accurate?
EH: This film is largely based on a personal experience of mine, basically, coming down to the wire trying to get rent money together. The day before it was due, somebody I had never met came out of the woodwork and paid the rent for us. Which ultimately solved nothing. It started all over again the next month, but the relief that we felt was so absurd, considering; it just seemed so ridiculous that we tied it in with all the other ideas we had. We are huge fans of the Coen brothers, I love Jodorowsky and Tony is a huge Scorsese fan. As with everyone, we have our favorite movies, but I wouldn’t say anything came into mind consciously as we were working on it. At least that I can remember.
You know, it’s funny, we wrote the script about 7 years ago, and some of the jokes and situations seemed a little silly and immature in retrospect. I think we are a lot more aware now, and some jokes we thought we funny at the time seemed problematic and small looking at them again, so we cut them out. I feel I have to address the “Stoner Bro” part of that description, only because of the negative connotations connected to those specific words currently. If it meant, “brotherly, caring, relationships between folks who are OK with cannabis use,” that’d be better, haha. I like “Comedy Odyssey” though, thank you! Overall, I guess with all the possible descriptions, “Stoner Bro Comedy Odyssey” is pretty solid.
AS: Your movie is called “The Movie”? What is the significance of this?
EH: That had been the working title for the longest time, and one night I proposed we just call it that. We thought that it kind of playfully summed up the attitude in the script, and also kind of made fun of the notion that everyone wants their art to be taken seriously. It seemed like a really funny idea at the time, but now I am having slight hesitations about it. It could go either way I guess. People might ignore it because of the title, or it might draw them in. I really have no idea, but I do think it will make it damn near impossible to find on the Internet.
AS: How did you go about writing the script? What were some challenges? What came easily?
EH: Well, we had the aforementioned quasi-mystical experience, which lit a fire under our asses in terms of urgency. We were lucky enough to be on vacation at the time, so the next day we wrote the full treatment in my mother’s little vacation house. When we got home, the dialogue and the script were fine-tuned and elaborated on. It could not have come more naturally, to be honest. I think a big part of that was because all the ideas were preexisting and we already had the whole story.
AS: How did you cast the film? What have the challenges been with working with non-actors and non-professionals?
EH: We cast the film mostly on our own, using some friends who were actors, as well as people we knew who we just felt would play the part well. We also made a few casting calls through New England Film, and Asian|Boston has also been a huge help to our process. We used almost 100% non-actors, with a few exceptions. The funny part is that some of them were professional and some of them weren’t, regardless of acting experience. Scheduling was by far the most difficult part of the production, no question. People would sometimes cancel, usually last minute and for no good reason, which is a nightmare when you spend so much time setting the shoots up. But the true professionals never let us down, not once. Interestingly enough, these were largely the folks who had to go the most out of their way.
AS: What’s your favorite scene? Either that you’ve written or shot. What is a scene that isn’t making it into the final cut?
EH: I think my favorite scene is one where our antagonist, for lack of a better term, is working as the host of a children’s television show and has a flashback, meltdown, and freak out all wonderfully rolled into one. He may or may not be dressed as a prehistoric animal at the time.
A scene that may or may not make the final cut would be one of the main characters losing his status and semi-fame at the local sperm bank, where he had been making a living. He seems beloved by the staff, but his “ejaculatory prowess” and constant need for new and exciting porn had become too much of a financial burden for the bank to handle .
AS: What has your experience been with using Indiegogo to fund your film? Why should someone give to support this project? How have your friends, peers, and families responded to this project?
EH: It has been fine. It’s unfortunate that they take a percentage of your funds, but I guess they have to make a living too. So far, people have been coming out of the woodwork in the true sense of the word and helping us. Some people who I have no idea who they are, and some people I know that I haven’t spoken to in years. I want to take this opportunity to thank them again right now.
AS: What advice would you give to other young artists looking to start working on a film?
EH: Seems like the best advice to give from my experience is to just go for it. The idea of waiting for everything to be perfect could mean the difference between making your film and not making your film. Like a recent fortune cookie reminded me, “Acting on a good idea is better than just having one.” Don’t doubt yourself, and be professional, gracious, and humble. You are going to depend (yes DEPEND) on a number of people to realize your goals, and the way you work with others can make or break it. Also to paraphrase one of my favorite films, BARTON FINK, always remember, “The whole world doesn’t revolve around whatever is rattling around that little head of yours.” Forget your ego, it isn’t helping you. And get yourself and your project out there without being obnoxious.
AS: Any ideas on what your next projects might be if this one is successful?
EH: I believe if society doesn’t collapse soon, we will be doing a number of films. At this point, success is going to be getting this damn thing thing completed. Then the film will do what its going to do, though I know we will be doing as many festivals with it as we can afford. We have plans for two more films, both comedies, but not as fun as this one.
Thanks so much for giving us the chance to talk about our film. I am a big admirer of what the Hassle is doing for the community and I am happy to be a part of it. I truly think Film Flam is one of the best parts of the magazine. If you see Ari out somewhere, shake his hand and thank him because there is nobody else in town doing what he does. (AS: I debated removing this from the article, but my vanity got the better of me. We’re LUCKIER to have filmmakers here than just me telling you about them.)
Much gratitude and appreciation. I wish the best to you all.
AS: Please consider giving to this awesome project here by June 26th, 11:59PM. It sounds like it’s going to be one part BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE and one part fun, original content. THE MOVIE is using Indiegogo, a platform that is extremely helpful for arts endeavors such as the Boston Hassle and Compass itself.
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