In a dystopian future, a relentless turf war rages. Two rival gangs feud for control of rural wasteland Frazier Park (The FP) in the deadly arena of competitive dance-fight video game "Beat-Beat Revelation." After hometown hero BTRO is slain on the dance platform by thug leader L Dubba E, his protégé younger brother JTRO (Jason Trost) goes into isolation, vowing never to duel again.
One year later, The FP is in ruins, and JTRO must find the courage to return and restore order in a ruthless battle for revenge that can only leave one man dancing. We recently caught up with co-writer, co-director, and star Jason Trost to chat about this cult-hit in the making.
Here is our conversation.
Did you wake up one morning, take a look in the mirror, and say to yourself, "I just look like someone that needs to be in an apocalyptic movie?" You really do have that perfect Mad Max persona...
Jason Trost: Well, thanks! I don't think I was looking in the mirror at all...It's funny that you say that. I wasn't even going to be in this movie. I wanted to be an actor for years. It did seem like if there ever was going to be a movie where the eye patch, and everything else, was going to work, it was going to be this one. So...Yeah, this is definitely where I chose to start...And perhaps end...My acting career.
No way! You are great in this movie. And the way you work with the language. This mix of urban slang and the future morphing of current popular phrases. You find that perfect balance in not making the dialogue cheesy or annoying. A lot of people can't pull that off...
Jason Trost: I think some screenwriters just write things to be offensive, for the sake of being offensive. That was never our number one goal. We wanted to do something that was funny, and faithful to this town we grew up in. I don't know about you, but anybody that has grown up in a small town...You usually have this group of kids who think they are wiggas, who think they are bad asses, because they watched Bad Boys, or 8 Mile, and suddenly they think they are tough kids now. They don't know how to talk Ebonics. They just make shit up. I've seen that. 80% of the dialogue in this movie is stuff myself, my brother, or my sister have actually heard at a party or some thing in Frazier Park. It's this weird vernacular that the kids come up with, where they are trying to be smart, but they don't know how to do it. They are like baby snakes that don' know their venom. They spit whatever out of their mouths. That is what we tried to capture in the movie.
I just saw what you described at the gas station about twenty minutes ago. There were three teenagers, and they were driving me nuts. Just pulling words out of the sky. They sounded ridiculous.
Jason Trost: Yeah, that's what happens. You're at a party, and you look around the room, and suddenly someone says, "Fuck you, lampshade." That doesn't really work. But I appreciate the gesture.
Back in the 80s, we saw a whole string of apocalyptic movies. You look at what they pulled in from the past to make their dystopian futures, which all had a very similar look and feel. You guys have kind of done the same thing, playing to that atmosphere...Only here you are pulling everything in that happened between the span of 1982 and 2012. How did you go about orchestrating the production design on this film?
Jason Trost: It's one of those things...We grew up on all of those same movies, too. The Mad Maxs, the Rockys, and what have you. We always wanted it to look like that. It was actually quite serendipitous. Our father is a special effects supervisor, so he has all of this weird, random machinery junk just strewn across this massive plot of land up in the FP. None of that looks like brand new stuff. Basically between that and the thrift store in town, which also has a bunch of junk, we were able to make these mountains of trash, and we ended up doing exactly what we planned. I could tell you that was initially the plan. That was the initial design. Lie to you a little bit...But we really only had a bunch of Mad Max junk, so we went with it. I think it worked out in the end.
Then you drop the video game aspect into it. Were you guys directly inspired by The Wizard?
Jason Trost: Oh, yeah. We were even inspired by Super Mario Bros. the movie. Those weird video game-inspired things from the early 90s. Then, with the costumes, like the Jtro and Btro costumes? They are the exact same, but the colors are influx. Its like the twin brothers in Double Dragon, or like in Street Fighter. Early 90s video games were a big pull for this. I think those games pulled from Mad Max. So we were kind of pulling from the same stuff they did.
It's always weird to me, when I read a quote for a movie like this, and it says, "Ready made cult hit..."
Jason Trost: Yeah, that is ridiculous to me. I don't know that anybody should go out and say that...But it is awesome...
It brings a different mindset walking into something like this nowadays. Back in the day, we didn't have anyone telling us it was a cult hit before we saw it. We saw it, and then the cult formed around that viewing experience. Now, its like a Scientology recruiter screaming, "Here is my cult, come join or else!" Do you ever think that kind of "cult" hyperbole is potentially harmful to a movie like The FP? Or do you think its such a different landscape that what anyone says about a movie doesn't really matter?
Jason Trost: Yeah, no doubt. Back in the day, when a movie like The Road Warrior came out, it wasn't called a cult hit, it was just called a movie. That's how things worked back then. Now, you make a movie like this, and its automatically a cult hit, or a throwback, it's a this or a that. It now comes with that level of anticipation that you need or don't need. I think most people are having a problem understanding that this is just one big sarcastic joke. A lot of people think we are being serious, and that we actually made a terrible movie, and that we are trying to be sincere. Which doesn't make any sense to me, but it happens a lot.
Yes. I have heard some people question the film and its true intentions. The perception is a little off...
Jason Trost: I love all the bad comments. My favorite one is, "This movie proves that God doesn't exist." Another one was, "I want a terrorist to fly a plane into this movie." There have been a lot of comments like that, "All the filmmakers involved should be publicly executed." I was like, "Alright, we are hitting somebody." I'd only want to make a movie where people either love it or hate it. I hate that terrible grey area, where you ask someone, "What did you think of the movie?" And they go, "Eh, whatever, I don't know..." It's the worst thing, to spend years on something, and have no one give a shit. I love that people hate it. And I love that people love it. That's why we made it in the first place.
bold It's weird that anyone would hate it that much, to call out your public execution...Seriously, come on, that's a little harsh...
Jason Trost: People have strange tastes, and the internet is just filled with such hate. Its ridiculous.
Its Dance Dance Revelation...How can you be mad at that?
People make fun of it, but outside of the American culture, I have witnessed real dance offs. People settling disputes in this manner. Some see it as a joke, but did you look outside our own dance movie clichés to see how other countries really do go to dance in resolving an issue?
Jason Trost: It definitely does happen in other parts of the world, but we never looked too much past America, because I wanted to keep the joke, that we are making fun of Americans, basically...With the whole movie. Its making fun of my own generation. So I didn't want to stray too far into other cultures. Not until we decide to make a sequel. Here, we just wanted to keep the joke nice, and big, and solid. These people aren't going to fight, but they are going to dance about it!
So, there will be an FP 2?
Jason Trost: We are definitely planning sequels. There is going to be a trilogy at the least, and perhaps even a Part VI twenty years down the road, ala Rocky Balboa. Definitely, part 2 and 3 are already plotted out.
If you do Part VI in twenty years, you have to then come back and do Part 5 maybe seven years after that.
Jason Trost: Yeah, I guess you are right. We might as well just make six at that point.
I know The FP was a real family affair. You co-directed and starred with your brother, your sister was in their doing the costumes, and your dad helped out. What kind of dynamic did that bring to the film?
Jason Trost: The dynamic is...I think, because we are family, we can push each other harder than you can push other crews. And we had to. We had a limited budget and limited resources. We trust each other. I don't see how we could have made this any other way. It had to be a family affair, because we had to ask too much of people. With family, you can beat the shit out of each other, and then say, "I love you! I love you!" "Okay, fine!" If you do that to regular people, just on the hours we had to do, I don't think they'd be happy. They wouldn't do it for free. I think family is always better in the face of adversity. I think its why people end up making really shitty movies. Steven Spielberg used to be really cool. He was great. But now that he can have whatever he wants, he just makes such blah things. All of those older guys. It always ends up happening to them. Like Eddie Murphy, he used to be funny. But he doesn't care any more. There is just nothing left to fight against.