Exclusive interview of Patrick Brice, director of Sundance hit 'The Overnight'
In theaters now is a hit independent film titled, "The Overnight." In this exclusive, in-depth interview Brice talks about how his early childhood experiences influenced his career choice to becoming a filmmaker, his self-proclaimed "late bloomer stage" and about the film that has become a hit with audiences throughout several film festivals.
Patrick Brice was born in Grass Valley, California. It's a small gold mining town just about halfway between Sacramento, California and Lake Tahoe. With a population just over 10,000 people, the town is a strange mix between blue collar folks and hippies. Brice was a child from the latter.
Brice's parents, both in their own way helped to shape this budding filmmaker. His mother was a therapist and his father was a high school administrator.
"I fell in love with movies at a very young age. I was enamored about them as far as I can remember, but I think it I started dream about make movies by the time I was 11 or 12 years old," stated Brice. He continues, "Because I grew up in such a rural place it was a big deal to see a movie, it was a real window to another world. When you are isolated, a film can become a real fantastic escape."
Brice's mother was not too happy with Brice watching television, "we didn't watch a lot of TV. My mom thought what was on television was trash. I think my mom tried to regulate what I watched on television more than my dad did."
And it was while his mother was away that Patrick and his father had a tradition that would forever change the way Patrick viewed the world, "My mom would have group therapy sessions and on Wednesday nights. So, on those nights my dad and I would get fast food and rent a movie. We rented anything we wanted. My dad's taste, for the most part, were really silly comedies. I was raised on the 'Naked Gun' series, 'Airplane' and the 'Blues Brothers.' I was able to find real bliss watching comedies like that."
By far, Brice's favorite film was "The Blues Brothers," "It was the first 'R' rated movie I was able to watch and that was a big deal to me. The humor in that film is so dry. The filmmaking is kind of interesting too. The first twenty minutes of that movie is quiet and subtle. The whole sequence of Dan Akryoyd picking up Jim Belushi at the prison and taking him to his home, is a quiet and really long quiet sequence. You get to discover these characters, their world and Chicago at that time. I have a very visceral experience every time I watch that movie. My dad and I would imitate the blues brothers in the car. As a result of that I developed a real taste of absurd, witty and sarcastic humor."
It was a much different film that made Brice think about film as a career choice, "I knew that I loved movies at the point in my life and I knew I really looked toward every week, but in terms of my own self-discovery, watching David Lynch movies and seeing "Wings of Desire" when I was 13 years old, by myself on VHS. I had an out of body experience, I had never seen anything like that movie before. It even seems crazy that I would even have that much attention span at that age. I was an only child, maybe because I was a reader, I predisposed to cinema that might seem difficult to other teenagers."
Brice grew up with a gang of five guys, who he calls, "My 'Stand by Me' crew. Strangely, one of these friends, Jason Sussberg, became a documentary filmmaker. But beyond this small group of friends, Brice didn't feel like he fit in during his high school years, "I was bored in school. I was a straight "C" student. My dad saw how bored I was and because my Dad felt the whole high school system as problematic, he was incredibly encouraging to me. He supported me to leave during my junior year, get my GED and attend Junior College. It was a huge leap of faith for all of us. In retrospect, I am really grateful that my parents trusted me enough to support me in doing that. I was forced to become an adult quickly."
Even though it might seem like Brice got an early start in life, he had trouble finding himself in his twenties, "It was a long road, I don't know if I would recommend it for everyone. It took me a lot of time to get my stuff together. From a storytelling point of view, having nutty adult experiences was good preparation for becoming a filmmaker. I seem to analyze people. As a younger person, I analyzed people as a means of survival. And I think my work as a filmmaker shows that."
Brice was the personal assistant to Robert Mailer Anderson - a writer, philanthropist and a filmmaker, "He would be the first to call himself a eccentric. He was making a horror film, that he wrote called 'Pig Hunt.' It eventually would cost $8 million to make.
"The next 3 years of my life, was this real life film school. I was his personal assistant, but I also took on a lot of producing duties. I was thrust into the world of independent filmmaking. We were all learning how to do it as we went along. It was an intense and wonderful time, but I got to a point when I wanted to move on and I applied to CalArts.
"I knew I didn't want to go to a traditional film school as I wasn't yet solid on what I wanted to do and what aspect of filmmaking I wanted to study. I thought CalArts was a good place to just immerse myself back into movies. My wife had just graduated from Berkeley and we moved to Los Angeles together."
Brice felt right at home, living in a town full of budding, young filmmakers and going to his new school, "I can't think of a better entré into living in LA than CalArts. It was nice to thrown into this lovely community. CalArts is this super International school and there are kids from all around the world that attend. The film program was very serious about movies. It had great professors and it was the perfect experience for me. The last three months of my education at Cal Arts was spent in France. I got a scholarship to study at La Femis in Paris. That was where I made my first documentary short 'Maurice.'
"'Maurice' was my first big project. I was happy with the film. It was the first time, I could really see the film in my mind and bring it to completion. It was nice to come home from that and I was already living in LA, ready to start my career."
Brice studied hard to become a filmmaker, but it would be his wife's first job in Los Angeles that would lead Brice to meeting the perfect mentor for his career. "The first job my wife had was as a nanny to Mark Duplass. I just starting hanging out with Mark and Katy and Mark became a mentor to me.
"Mark has a unique approach and his wiliness to role with the ever changing landscape of independent filmmaking has been a huge inspiration to me. He anticipates change."
Brice's next film would be a collaboration with Duplass. They set out to make a film called "Peach Fuzz," which was about an odd connection between two characters. The film had only a five page outline and was acted out by Duplass and Brice. But the film took a strange turn and became more sinister. Duplass and Brice changed the ending of the film and gave the film a new title: "Creep."
Now, Brice has his second feature film out in theaters now, "The Overnight. Brice wrote and directed this feature film on his own.
"The Overnight" is a sex comedy. It a relationship comedy with narrative tension and takes place within a 24 hour period. The film stars Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling and Jason Schwartzman.
Brice comments on his film, "I set out to make something that was purely entertaining. It is a bit of a roller coaster ride. But at the same time, I feel that the film is saying 'come have a good time with us.'
"I also feel it's a real good film on relationships - about long-term relationships. This is a movie in which four characters have to deal with a lot of relationship issues and the way they deal with these issues, I think becomes a model for acceptance. I am excited about that."
Now Brice is working on a sequel to "Creep," and feels that the positive reaction to "The Overnight" has helped to validate his career path.
All in all, Brice is looking forward to making films that show the nuances in human, honest, truthful and loving relationships. It's easy to see how a therapist and a caring father were able to influence their son, yet let his voice be his own. Perhaps, one day, Brice will bring his own story of growing up with two loving, yet very different parents into a story for the silver screen. And of course, it wouldn't be complete without a scene of a father and son, sitting in front of a television and laughing at a couple of blues brothers.
"The Overnight" is rated R for strong sexuality, graphic nudity, language and drug use and has a run-time of one hour and 19 minutes.