picture source: Drafthouse Films
According to Brandon (right) and Jason Trost (left), the sibling filmmakers behind The FP, it’s a film that’s been eight years in the making. After shooting it as a short in 2007 (though there was always a feature-length script, Jason assures), they shot the full version (on a budget of less than $100K) and took it to SXSW last March, where it was picked up by Drafthouse films (it opens in 26 markets today and is available for fans to vote to create their own screenings through Tugg.com). By the time they got to the screening I hosted at SF Indie Fest in San Francisco this past February, they were already veterans of the festival circuit, having played Fantastic Fest, Fantasia in Montreal, the Rolling Road Show and a handful of other places.
After screening the film to a raucous, largely drunken crowd (what do you expect when you let a site called “FilmDrunk” get involved), Brandon and Jason, joined by their sister Sarah (The FP‘s costume designer and a former Project Runway contestant), Lee Valmassy (L Dubba E in the movie), and Art Hsu (KCDC), took the stage for a Q & A. Valmassy, a seemingly soft-spoken, slightly-built eccentric who’d apparently just gotten back from China, addressed the crowd in fluent Mandarin, then took a backseat for most of the rest of the Q & A, bearing bizarrely little resemblance to the manic screaming Mr. T he plays in the movie. People at the after party walked right by him, having no idea they’d just seen him in the film. Meanwhile, the Trost siblings (Brandon the reserved eldest, Jason the brash youngest, Sarah the glib middle) showed that the hardest part of moderating a discussion with them isn’t getting them talking, but getting them to pause long enough for people to ask questions. They’ve got that sibling shorthand thing in spades. All the while Art Hsu, the glue holding the film together and the lone person on stage not from Frazier Park, competently played the role of professional actor like the professional actor he is. The dynamic was much the same the next day when I met Brandon, Jason, Sarah, and Art for this interview, trying not to sound like I’d woken up that morning with a wallet full of singles from a late-night trip to a strip club (no comment). Read our chat below (thank Adam for transcribing) or scroll to the end for the mp3 version.
“A studio would never release a movie with these numbers.”
Vince: Where else have you played?
Brandon: We did SXSW, FantasticFest–
Jason: We went up to Montreal for Fantasia. We’re at it in NY for the Friar’s Club. We had The FP screening at the Rolling Road Show thing. And it’s playing at a bunch of other film festivals that we haven’t made it to.
Brandon: It’s been playing around. It’s always fun just to see the movie with an audience, regardless.
Jason: It’s funny, like the difference of audience where you have one like last night that really gets it and they’re into it, and then you have the one where it’s kind of like 50 people who are just like…
Sarah: Or the test screening where 10 people walked out.
Jason: Yeah, the test screening was great.
Sarah: That was rough.
Jason: Essentially we had a test screening to see if we could even go to SXSW, because our Paranormal Activity producers wanted to make sure if was financially viable to go out there and all this. So they got us a test screening where 10 people walked out. It got like a 52% positive rating, and I remember the producer, Jason Blum, said “A studio would never release a movie with these numbers.” And then we went to SXSW.
Sarah: And now here we are
Vince: This doesn’t seem like a movie that’s a test audience movie.
Brandon: And that’s ultimately our point. It was awesome to have a test done just to see the whole process.
Jason: We still have to make a coffee table book of all those comments. The comments on it are insane.
Brandon: But, you know, it just proves to us this isn’t a wide release studio type movie. It’s the kind of movie that needs to be discovered by people.
Jason: Which is crazy when we’re playing in like 26 cities. Which is nuts that it actually got to that point. We were just hoping, “God, I hope maybe we could only play for one theater in LA maybe or something.” That was our dream back when we were making it.
Brandon: We were hoping we would get a DVD deal.
Jason: Now it’s like ridiculous.