Couch Potatoes: Something Remote's Stars Talk Back
Series stars C/J Haley and John Selig talk about their time on the couch.
Two weeks ago, we heard from Alex Laferriere and Nick Allain, the brains behind the camera. This week, we take a seat on the big green couch with Something Remote stars Chris "C/J" Haley (Neil Trembley) and John Selig (Erik Goulding), and hear what they have to say about Broken Wall Films' pop culture storm.
Rick Desilets: So let's start from the beginning. How did you two first get involved in Broken Wall Films?
John Selig: Known Alex since third grade, C/J since sixth and Nick since seventh. We've all been good friends for years. We're all also vaguely artsy, so working on a movie sounded like a good time, especially a comedy written by Al, he was always the funniest one.
C/J Haley: I actually helped get it off the ground when we started out as Collective Studios and were filming Project Zombie. Needless to say, that name sucked and that movie never really panned out. There is some unused footage of Neil and Lisa getting intimate before Neil gets his skull cracked open by his own front door. Effing slumlord. No actually, I got killed off in the first scene but had some awesome special effect work that never really saw the light of day. Someday we'll use it for something.
RD: Haha, well Broken Wall Films isn't exactly known for its projects running smoothly. What was it like jumping into the lead role the day Something Remote filming began?
CH: Well, I've actually been acting since junior high and I went to college to study it, so it wasn't really difficult. Okay, it might have been a surprise, but the footage from the first day never got recorded anyways, so who cares? I definitely had the easiest time with lines, and getting in character pretty much involved being myself with less emotional engagement, and channeling my own ex-girlfriends. I already had chemistry with the rest of the cast, especially Rebecca, and so the sudden casting wasn't terribly disorienting.
JS: Ah, George. The part of Neil was originally cast as a guy named George. His last name is lost to history (or probably Nick's email archives). Anyway, he showed up day one for the cast read through, and seemed really into it. He was a weird dude; thick Rhode Island accent, short but had huge hair, and minutes after meeting Becca (Lisa) requested a sex scene. Classy.
Anyway, the next time we were supposed to get together, his truck apparently got a flat. And then he stopped answering everyone's calls... so when the first day of filming came, we had C/J fill in and the rest is history. George took a liking to me on that first day and had given me his phone number, so I called him once, halfway through filming. He answered the phone, "JOHNNYYYYYYY!" and when asked what happened to him working on "that movie" he just told me it "fell through. The whole thing fell through." Oh George.
RD: Once the ball got rolling though, things really started to take off. What were your experiences working on the Something Remote film?
CH: Working on the movie was pretty awesome except for the 9am wakeup calls. We got to go to Subway for John almost twice a day, hang out, practically live the script, and I got to do some sick parkour at the bookends of the movie that Jake Gyllenhaal eventually stole from me. There was an earlier draft where Neil actually uses the Sands of Time to go back to before he broke up with Lisa, but then we realized that would interfere with the web series too much, so it got cut. There was one day when we shot the entire Shannon and Scott scene during brief lulls in a thunderstorm, which was crazy. And we got to listen to a domestic dispute from the next apartment over. Really just being in Worcester put us in the right state of mind for our characters, and it was nice for us all to be able to talk for as long as we did while Alex had to stay silent behind the camera. I think my favorite aspect was that I got to sit on my ass for ninety percent of the shooting. Even though it was sweltering hot under those lights, I was still relaxed and got the crew to get me drinks whenever I needed them.
JS: It was great, honestly. No, we didn't necessarily all know what we were doing; day one, all the actors (particularly me) were terrible, because most of us hadn't performed on camera before. But all that didn't matter, since something somewhere messed up and all the "footage" we recorded was just empty computer files anyway, so we got a fresh start. Moments like that make it all the more epic that we finished this damn movie, but at the end of the day, working on a project with your best friends is a great feeling. It's not perfect, and that summer was anything but easy, but I think we'll all look back on it fondly. The web series summer though, a different story.
RD: Speaking of which, now that we're in our second run on the internet, how about we let loose. What was it like putting the web series together?
JS: Stressful. We arbitrarily gave ourselves a really strict schedule for the web series, which was a blessing and a curse. Usually a curse. But, we learned a lot, especially Alex; if you look a lot of the cinematography is head and shoulders above the film itself. Although the times when it's not, it was usually due to the time crunch. Writing took a hit because of the time too, keeping in mind that Alex is just one dude doing almost everything, banging out an amount of material comparable to the film in a lot less time is pretty harsh. All that considered, I think the webseries has some great moments and when looked at as subordinate to the film, it's a nice thing to have.
CH: The webseries was certainly a bumpy road. Some episodes were really fun to shoot, whilst others were tedious and slightly directionless. The scripts were written almost on a weekly basis, and we'd find outrselves rewriting them at the shoots. Of course, because we did that it also gave more creative license to the actors. Playing Neil again was like putting on and old suit that you didn't really want to wear and hoped it wouldn't fit anymore, but your mom really liked it and so you wore it for her anyways, and then you found it wasn't as bad as you had remembered it to be, and wearing it one last time put a smile on her face. Yeah that's what the webseries was like.
And as much as others bitched about the laser tag episode being tiring as hell, I was actually in shape, and so I thought it was a blast. No one should ever go to that accursed farm ever again though, and it should be razed to the ground. Bad stuff happened there, I'm telling you. Whose idea was that location? Honestly, aside from the scripts being given to us a day before the shoot (ironically, I received the movie script the day OF the shoot because I was a recast) the only bad parts were finding different locations and moving out of our niche in the apartment. It was a learning experience however, and I think that the bad episodes aren't terrible, but the good ones are hilarious.
RD: For the folks out in internet-land, let's put on that old suit just one last time. In what way would you say you're most and least like your character?
CH: I'm most like my character in that as much as I hate being around my friends and listening to them, I do need and value their opinions. I just don't want to hear them. I'm the least like my character though in that if my friends really were at extreme ends of either side of the spectrum, I would have probably beat the crap out of them. I have a lot in common with Neil's relationship in that I've been there before. The difference is while Neil's almost happy being unhappy, I killed all of my exgirlfriends. You can see their graves on the Special Features disc being released with the Something Remote Special 2-Year Anniversary Edition.
JS: Alex said it best I think: Erik is John, but John isn't (just) Erik. There's definitely parts of me that have Erik tendencies; we'll call it Erik Mode, when John is in Erik Mode, he gets shy, awkward, or makes vacant comments. But John has lots of other modes, like Obnoxious-Subway-Restaurant John, or Road-Rage-John. Erik is just a part of the horrifying tapestry that is John Selig.
RD: Terrifying. Before we finish up here, let's take a look back. If there was one thing you could change, what would it be?
JS: That's a tie between the Erik getting pissed scene toward the end of the film (I kinda went zero-to-sixty there), and the extra baggage I'm packing during the web series. The camera adds ten pounds, but hanging with Alex adds forty.
CH: I'd have nipped the web series in the bud. I would have demanded we hold off on releasing them until at least half were finished. It would have been a lot more polished that way and I might have had incentive to write an episode or two. We jumped the gun on that one because certain persons thought it would be better to have something now and get people excited than keep teasing them until we were ready and have people lose interest. I don't know, I didn't agree with that and wish it had gone differently but after all was said and done it's a nice addition to the movie and an interesting concept of spanning different media to get our product across. As it is, I'm now in negotiations with a major motion picture company to buy the rights to creative control to the entire franchise and begin gearing up for Something Remote 3: Something Remote 2. We've got Danny Trejo signed to play Mat and are in negotiations with Sean Astin for the role of Eric. Mat gets married. Neil become CEO of his company. Eric gets a puppy. Lisa comes out of the closet. I'm not saying any more.
RD: I think you just sold three hundred tickets. Nice. Well, it's been awesome talking with you guys, and it's been a BLAST getting to work with the both of you. Here's to fudgicles!
C/J Haley is a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and John Selig is a graduate of Harvard University.
Tune in this Sunday as the Three Guys return home and find themselves unstuck in time in this week's episode, Something Lost in Time!