Steve Little discusses the mind blowing new comedy from director Todd Rohal is in select theaters this weekend, and On Demand starting October 26th
In select theaters now, and coming to On Demand October 26th, is the strange new comedy The Catechism Cataclysm from director Todd Rohal. The film follows a young, unconventional priest known as Father Billy (Steve Little) who goes on a daylong canoe trip with a fellow classmate that he used to idolize in high school. To say any more about the actual film itself would be to give away its mystery.
We recently met up with Steve Little, who may be best known as Stevie on Eastbound & Down, to chat about this crazy movie and its unconventional ways. There are no spoilers ahead, but here is our conversation, where we try to find the true meaning in The Catechism Cataclysm.
I have to imagine that when various audiences see this movie, each individual has a different take on it. What are some of your favorite explanations from other people in terms of what the movie is actually about, and what its supposed to represent?
Steve Little: My favorite is...We did this screening at Sundance. We did a Q&A. And that first hand goes up. We go, "Let's take your question." And that person goes, "What was that about?" I have done some interviews, and they say, "Oh, you are really zinging it to religion." I didn't feel that way. Maybe that's what they brought to it. I think it's a good thing that everyone has their own take on what happened, or why they liked it. Or why they didn't. Why they think its funny. Or not.
I didn't think this was a take down on religion. Father Billy goes back to the church at the end of the movie. His faith is restored, and he is a better priest.
Steve Little: Yes. Exactly. That is my take on it too. It's a faith-affirming movie. There are miracles in it. Me and the director were talking at one point, and we were like, "Oh, yeah. We are making a movie for Kirk Cameron." It almost felt like that kind of movie. Your take is the same as my take. But it's interesting. A lot of people have a different view about the meaning of the film.
Those Kirk Cameron movies make a ton of money. Millions and Millions of dollars. Maybe it's okay if Catechism is mistaken for that. It can't hurt the film...
Steve Little: Yeah. Hopefully it will make millions and millions. I didn't know that those movies still made millions...
Yeah, one just came out a couple of weekends ago. They spent nothing to make it, and it cracked the top ten. Made close to six million dollars, or something crazy. That's an untapped market. There's not a lot of movies out their for those folks...
Steve Little: Ha. Wow...
What was it like for you to have the most popular member of the Twilight cast, between the 25-55 year old male demographic, on set for most of this shoot?
Steve Little: Wait, wait...The most popular member of the Twilight cast?
Amongst Fathers, I would say...
Steve Little: Who is the most popular member of the Twilight cast amongst fathers?
Steve Little: Oh! (Laughs) Okay. Rainier beer. It was pretty awesome. They were the only ones that would give us permission to be in the movie. All of the other beer people didn't give us permission. But Rainier, with this and Twilight...Their marketing people are really taking a step up.
They need that advertising. I'm from the Northwest, and I love Rainier beer. But you can't get it anywhere else. As soon as you see that white can, you immediately know where these guys are. It sets a certain mood.
Steve Little: I actually went to college at the University of Puget Sound, in Tacoma, Washington. We would drink Rainier beer. So you are right. I just love those guys. So, it's in Twilight, too, huh?
Yes. It makes a cameo in every Twilight movie. Even despite the fact that the directors keep changing hands, the Rainier can has remained consistent fixture. Its not a Twilight movie if there isn't a Rainer cameo.
Steve Little: That just tells you about the quality of that beer!
Being from Washington, are you a big beer drinker?
Steve Little: I only went to college there. I am a medium beer drinking. I'm not one of these guys that brews beer in his bathtub, or even understands the process of making a beer. When most people start talking about hops and barley, I kind of tune out.
Maybe this speaks to my own flirtation with alcoholism, but that moment, where there are only a few beers left, and you guys are stranded for the night, and you start to shake them, and throw them hard against the ground so that they explode...That is probably the most tense moment in the film. I was wincing through that entire back and forth between Robbie and Father Billy. It's a tough scene to watch...You draw a lot of real, raw emotion out of that very intense moment. It's a horrible thing to be in the woods without any beer...
Steve Little: That was one of those times where the sun was going down, and you have to hurry up. You have to get that shot off. Then, on top of that, we only had seven cans of beer left. I knew that I was going to throw one on the ground. If we ran out of beer at that point, we would just stop production of the movie. For real. We had fifteen minutes to shoot it. You know how the light is supposed to be? It was supposed to be getting dark. It was getting close to seven o'clock. We had to hurry. Plus we didn't have a lot of beer props.
That tension is real. There is a whole other element going on behind the camera...
Steve Little: Yes. What was nice about that scene in particular was that it was supposed to be tension filled. But, on top of that, you have the director and the crew telling you, "We have to do this right now! We have ten minutes! Let's get the camera up...Oh, no! We don't have it!" So people are being tense there. In a weird way, that helps. If you are doing a scene, and you are supposed to be nervous, and you are nervous in real life...Those things help each other...
Talking about this is making me think about the movie again. It's making me laugh...The first forty minutes of this movie are, honestly, the funniest thing I have seen this year...
Steve Little: Okay. Good. Thank you.
I couldn't stop laughing. And its making me laugh now, thinking back on it. On that note, I need to ask you about the trailer. I don't think I've seen a trailer like this since maybe Unbreakable. You give nothing away. I certainly haven't seen that happen with a comedy movie before. Usually everything is given away in the trailer...
Steve Little: One thing...(Laughs) Director Todd Rohal cut together another trailer. Maybe it's online. But its images from the movie with a Japanese voice-over. The idea is that it's an American movie, but it was shot in Japan, and it was only being shown there. But the Japanese voice-over was really just some guy's demo reel. He is just saying, "My name is Tamiko Masamoura." Or whatever. But about that original trailer? So many trailers give away so much of the movie. In promoting this particular movie, like we are doing today, it's best if you don't know a lot about the movie. I think that's the fun of it. Not knowing what you are going to get.
That's what's so great about it. I saw the trailer, and it made me want to watch the movie. But I'm thinking, it's just a camping trip comedy with a priest and a metal rocker in a canoe. That's funny. Then, watching the actual movie, you get to that point where they are out there in the woods of Washington, stuck for the night...And the tension starts to build...And you haven't been privy to any of this yet. You have no idea what's going to happen. I don't want to say it turns into a horror movie, but its scary. Its like that great twist in the middle of From Dusk till Dawn. You're watching one genre of movie, and then it turns into something completely different. But you never see it coming.
Steve Little: Its good. Its weird. Sometimes you watch a trailer, and you will see a building blow up. Then you are sitting through the whole movie, and you are just waiting for the building to blow up. You know what I mean? Maybe it's the last explosion in the thing...I don't know...I was rambling right there...
Having no reference point for anything that happens after Father Billy and Robbie get lost brings a unique tension that you wouldn't get had you revealed even one tiny other aspect of the film. It's a great reveal and a great trailer. We're clueless.
Steve Little: Yes. That is correct.
I don't really want to ask this next question. But I feel like I have to. Spoiler for anyone listening...But is the Robbie character real? Or is he a figment of Father Billy's imagination?
Steve Little: Oh! I thought he was. I think Robbie is real. And these are miracles that are happening. Robbie was always a storyteller. He went off his path to become a spotlight operator. My character is going off his path, but through his faith, he finds his way back on that path. I took this as Robbie being real. That is my take. But that is an interesting question. I think the movie is about faith, and having that crisis of faith. Then, also, there is an interesting relationship there between my character and Robbie, with Robbie being somebody who turns out to not be as good as Father Billy imagined him to be. This guy has just been beaten down by life, and he got on the wrong path. That is part of it, for sure.
Like Father Billy says at the end of the movie, this is a story that you have to sit and really think about, and come to your own conclusions on. What does it all mean? That plays into whether or not Robbie is an actual person or a manifestation of all the things Father Billy loved before he entered the Priesthood. It's a story that can be interpreted in a number of different ways.
Steve Little: That's one of the things I like about the movie. Yeah, you can take different things from it. Its sticks with you. Everything is not all wrapped up nicely. One of the things that director Todd Rohal said, was that one of the things this came out of was...He was pitching a lot of ideas for movies to studios and various people. He wanted to make a movie that he didn't have to pitch. Something that people didn't have to approve. He wanted to make a film that his friends would want to see. He didn't want to compromise.
It's the type of movie that opens up a discussion. This is the type of movie that sends you to Denny's afterwards to contemplate it over a plate of waffles with your friends. It's a great film in that sense, and maybe a little old fashion. It doesn't just go in one ear and out the other like, say, Green Lantern. Do you think it's hard in this day and age to convince people that really great movies do still exist?
Steve Little: What's interesting is that this went through the festival circuit. It was interesting to watch people go into this blind. They had no idea what it was about. They just knew that they had tickets for an 11 o'clock show at Sundance, or wherever...They would go. You'd see them in there, and you wouldn't think this movie was tuned to their demographic. You don't think that a sixty-year-old woman with five kids will respond to it. But to have them go, "Oh, I love that movie!" It's interesting. It's like what Todd Rohal talked about. Its fun to discover a movie. To have someone hand you something, and say, "You've got to see this!" Like Pink Flamingos. Something, as a kid, that someone handed you. I think its okay to be one of those movies. To be a movie that isn't for everyone. That's okay. Even that Rotten Tomatoes thing is crazy. It shows you what percentage of critics like a certain movie. Yeah, you want to get 100%. But what happened to liking one guy's opinion, and going off of him?
That's what the movie is about in a lot of ways...isn't it?
Steve Little: Maybe...You mean, to follow your own voice?
No. You have this character in Father Billy that loves the artistic output of this one man, Robbie. He is a super fan of Robbie's short stories, and his music. Then, you have these two girls, and this other dude, that don't like Robbie's stories. They literally give him a thumbs down. It's three against one in critiquing Robbie's writing. That plays into the sense that 1 guy is going to like this movie, and the other 9 are going to give it a thumbs down because, like Robbie's own stories, it doesn't have an ending. There is a parallel there.
Steve Little: Yeah. That is a good point. I didn't even see it like that. That is an excellent point. There is something fun to that. Some people will respond positively to the movie. Then you have other people that don't. Yeah. Exactly. I don't know what to add to that, but I like your synopsis there.
How is Stevie doing? We've got a lot of folks excited about Eastbound & Down Season 3...
Steve Little: Season 3 will be coming out, I think, sometime in the winter. February, March...Maybe January. We just finished shooting. Actually, we have about one week left. And Stevie is still around. I don't know how much I can say. He will be there. And I am excited about it. I think it's going to be a really good season.
Kenny is coming back to the states. Can you give us a hint as to what else we can expect in upcoming episodes?
Steve Little: You will be seeing a lot of Myrtle Beach. And all its glory. You can watch the show, then you will go there, and you will say, "Those guys hit it on the nose." There will be a lot of that. Like someone said, "It's like Vegas with none of the class and all of the trash." We shot about half the time there, and then we shot in Wellington, North Carolina, too.
We know that Will Ferrell is returning to the show this season. Are there any other guest stars, or returning characters that we might expect?
Steve Little: I can't give you any hints. But we'll be back. That will be fun. I don't know who else is coming back. I'm not sure. I can't really say anything else about it.