In early August, I met up with my longtime friends Brian James O'Connell, Justin Ware, Neil W. Garguilo, David F. Park and Sean Cowhig, collectively known as the improv troupe Dr. God, to discuss their fantastic workplace vampire comedy Bloodsucking Bastards. I've known these guys for years, from hanging out at iO West in Hollywood, where they perform as Dr. God, so I thought it would be great to get them all in one place to talk about their movie, which hits theaters in limited release and on VOD September 4 through Shout! Factory. So, we all convened at the Mud Hen Tavern in Hollywood to talk about Bloodsucking Bastards, over a Bloody Mary-filled brunch. Part of me wants to just print the entire 90-minute, tangent-filled "interview" below, because there is just so much hilarity in one place. But, instead, I'll just present a lengthy rundown of our afternoon, which will give you a taste of their unique brand of humor.
I was fortunate enough to catch a March screening of Bloodsucking Bastards in L.A., and you can see in my review here, that I just love this movie. If you haven't seen the amazing Bloodsucking Bastards trailer yet, the story can best be described as Office Space meets vampires. Fran Kranz stars as Evan, the only employee at the office who takes his job seriously, as he eyes a promotion to sales manager, a job that gets snaked out from under him by Max, played by Pedro Pascal. After a spate of workplace deaths, Evan and the rest of his co-workers (the ones who are still alive), realize that Max is turning the entire staff into vampires. The cast is rounded out by Emma Fitzpatrick, Evan's ex-girlfriend Amanda (the reason they break up may be the funniest thing I've seen all year), Joey Kern as the slacker Tim, Joel Murray as their boss Ted, Marshall Givens as the Red Bull chugging security guard Frank and Yvette Yates as the receptionist Zabeth.
Justin and Neil play Andrew and Mike, who, like most of their co-workers, would rather be anywhere else but the office. David plays the overly-nice, and therefore, overly-annoying Dave and Sean plays the unnamed Janitor. Brian has no actual lines in the movie, but he's seen in a few office meeting settings. One of the many great things is that, even in a rapid-fire 86-minute movie, everyone gets a chance to shine, no matter how big or small the role is. While Bloodsucking Bastards was written by the entire Dr. God team, with Brian directing, the story originally came from a young writer named Ryan Mitts, who received both a story and a screenplay credit in the film. Justin, an established screenwriter who makes his producing debut with Bloodsucking Bastards, revealing how they sparked to this unique story that combines the workplace comedy with bloodsucking vampires.
"The basic thing we were drawn to was the core concept, which was one of those thing that, when you read the script you're like, 'This is such a no-brainer. I can't believe nobody has made this movie before,' because the undead in an office setting, people feel like they're walking around like zombies or vampires or undead already, in cubicles. You know, the tagline, 'Work. It sucks the life out of you," is real. They were initially just going to bring us on to write it and so forth. I was like, 'Look, we've got the whole package. We've got the director, we'll all be in it,' and I came on as a producer. I just said, 'Let us do what we do,' and they were super open to it."
Sean explained that a lot of their work with the script was simplifying the story. The movie is almost entirely set within the office, but the original script featured multiple locations that weren't really necessary to the story. Brian added that the original script had scenes where the cops would show up, which complicated matters even more. One might think that five people working on one script would be a complication in and of itself, but, their differing schedules weren't a major issue. While the scripting process was under way, both Neil and David created the AXS TV series MOCKPocalypse, which just started airing its third season on Thursday nights at 11 PM ET. Here's what Neil had to say about their writing process.
"We do a lot of divide and conquer in our journey. We have a couple of different platforms that we have content getting out there. This was sort of the perfect storm when things started to take off. We got a show on Mark Cuban's network, AXS TV, called MOCKPocalypse, so Dave and I were running that series when the script came in. So, Sean and Brian started plowing through that with Justin in tandem, while Dave and I were working on the show. It creates a great workflow, which is what I think makes this thing work very well, that we're able to go back into the world, bring a project back in, and then we all just circle around it."
What's great about these guys, besides just being hilarious, fun-loving guys to be around, is they're all willing to go to bat for one another, just like how Justin wanted to make sure everyone in the group would write and star, with Brian directing. Just after Neil talked about their writing process, Brian made it clear that nothing would go out unless "all five eyes were on it," while Sean added that the great thing about all five of them working together is they don't hold anything precious. Brian wanted to make it clear that Neil and David had just as much to do with writing the script as everyone else. Brian also made sure to acknowledge his hard-working crew, most notably cinematographer Matt Mosher, gaffer Kevin Campbell and key grip Casey Slade, for pulling off an 18-day shoot that averaged 28 setups a day, which is no small feat by any means.
As the afternoon goes on, and more pitchers of Bloody Mary's are consumed, topics vary wildly, from David's ridiculously flawless impersonation of Joel Murray, the art of crafting a movie trailer, and the next movie they plan on filming in the spring, which they will only describe as an action-comedy with supernatural elements. They actually planned on filming this untitled project before Bloodsucking Bastards, but now that movie will be next on deck for these filmmakers, which actually worked out perfectly because it has a tone similar to Bloodsucking Bastards. Then, things got weird(ly hilarious), and I'm kind of surprised it didn't happen sooner.
After Neil finishes talking about the untitled project they want to film this coming spring, Dave starts dishing details on their "passion project.' Right away, I could hear some of the guys trying to stifle their laughter. A "bit" was on the horizon, and, like a finely-tuned improv machine, the rest of Dr. God laid in wait, as David starts discussing a "project" I imagine no one else at the table had ever heard about before that very moment, entitled American Boner Academy. Take it away, David.
"Down the road, we're looking to do our passion project. It's kind of like a campus-based, sexual shenanigans movie called American Boner Academy. We're talking, $100 mil, easy, budget-wise. We can't talk too much about it, but it's American Boner Academy, so you can kind of fill in the blanks."
A millisecond later, Justin chimes in, talking about CGI boners, and the inevitable sequel, European Boner Academy, while David mentions the World Boner Alliance. Without literally missing a beat, Neil jumps in, stating they all plan on starring in American Boner Academy, while they are also using "very similar characters" from the Police Academy franchise. For instance, they want the "new Michael Winslow," whoever is at, as Justin puts it, the "front end of mouth sound effects." Neil started laughing so hard he almost choked on his cantaloupe. When the laughter subsides, just when it seems the bit is over, David jumps back in.
"The tagline for American Boner Academy is, 'American Boner Academy: The World Is Your Boner."
After random discussions about where the guests would sit, if Sean and Brian (who are both straight) were to get married (consensus: 200 people would be literally standing in the aisle...), the Ronda Rousey fight, and a fake social media contest where Sean gives away his "virginity," we get back on track. Brian went on to praise Emma Fitzpatrick and Yvette Yates' performances, and Yvette's incredible social media savvy. They all marvel at the amazing life Pedro Pascal has had, on and off camera (his family fled Chile when he was just a young boy after a political uprising), while speaking the highest praise of Fran Kranz, and how dedicated he is to a role that isn't easy to pull off, playing the "straight man" in a room full of comedians.
Over the course of the afternoon, just like how every character in the movie gets, at the very least, an awesome line, or a great death, the stand-up guys of Dr. God are constantly telling stories about how wonderful each and every cast member was, making sure no one was left out. It didn't strike me until the end of this unconventional interview that I realized how unique these filmmakers really are. Unlike many of my interview subjects, none of these guys really want to talk about themselves, individually, at all. When I asked who came up with the hilarious catch phrase "bam snap," (which is actually the movie's official Twitter handle @bam_snap) no one is can remember who came up with it, or if the original writer Ryan Mitts did. That may be true. Maybe they don't remember. Or, it could be, they know it doesn't really matter who came up with the line, as long as they all agree it's funny. And then, out of nowhere, after Brian finishes explaining how Bloodsucking Bastards is really about friends taking care of each other "when the chips are down," Justin brings it home with the best fake tagline ever... or at least of this particular afternoon.
"When the chips are down, they rise up. American Boner Academy."
You can watch the talented Brian James O'Connell, Justin Ware, Neil W. Garguilo, David F. Park and Sean Cowhig in Bloodsucking Bastards, debuting on VOD and in limited theaters September 4. You can visit BloodsuckingBastards.com to see if Bloodsucking Bastards is playing in a theater near you. Check out my official review here, and let us know what you think of Bloodsucking Bastards after you see in this weekend. If you want to learn more about Dr. God, you can visit DrGodComedy.com and @DrGodComedy.