Toby Carroll interviews key cast and crew members from the upcoming View Askew Production Big Helium Dog: Brian Lynch, Kevin Crimmins, Vincent Pereira, Bill Woods, Brian Quinn and Lorene Scafaria.

Toby Carroll: What did everyone here do on Big Helium Dog?

Kevin Crimmins: I was the prop guy, prop master. I was a little grip, an actor in it, small part. And assistant editor.

Brian Lynch: I did craft service. No, I didn't. I wrote and directed it, and co-edited it with Vin. Vin taught me how to edit. And I'm in it for about a second.

Vincent Pereira: I was the assistant director and co-editor, and I have a small part.

Bill Woods: Production coordinator and female lead.

Brian: Bill's actually the glorified cameo. You have to look for Bill in each scene.

Kevin: It's like "Where's Waldo".

Toby: So, how long had you had the script written for the movie?

Brian: Before we shot? Two years, right when I was dropping out of college. Instead of going to classes, I wrote the first draft.

Vincent: The first draft I saw was on the set of A Better Place, during rehearsals.

Brian: Well, you saw pieces of it, and I'd tell you about scenes. That was-

Vincent: '95.

Brian: So I started writing it in February or March of 1995.

Toby: Was that your first script, or-?

Brian: No. I wrote a science fiction one, which I think is every screenwriter's first attempt. (laughs) A really lame science fiction one, like "This is the next Star Wars!" And then I wrote a horror movie that we taped part of it in college. I still want to make that one; I want to go back and rewrite it. It's called Everybody's Dead. This is my third script.

Toby: Where do you guys all know each other from?

Kevin: Me and Brian met in college. We're fraternity brothers. (laughter)

Brian: That's not very arty.

Kevin: No.

Vincent: I met Brian in ninth grade, in high school. We became friends way back when.

Bill: I just work here. (laughter)

Brian: You have no connection.

Bill: No, I don't. How do you know everybody?

Brian: Let's turn this around.

Bill: Don't fuckin' ask us questions, man!

Brian: Here comes Quinn. Just so you know, this guy Quinn is the casting director of Big Helium Dog, and has a scene-stealing part in it.
(Brian Quinn entered, and people started to hug each other)

Toby: I'll just write in the interview, "Hugs happen".

Brian: Everyone, because they like each other so much.

Toby: Where did you get the idea to write it?

Brian: I always had ideas for sketches in my head, and I never knew how to connect them in a movie. I always thought that maybe I'd write for Saturday Night Live or something, and put them in as sketches. But I just went, and threw them all in one movie, and tried to find some really, really bare-boned way to string them all along, and that's what came about. I actually wrote another script... Miller Minogue was written a year later, two years later-

Vincent: Yeah, it was written during the production of Chasing Amy.

Brian: And Miller Minogue was essentially all of the sketches that didn't fit into Big Helium Dog.

Toby: So, how many scripts have you written in total?

Brian: Counting the two before Big Helium Dog, three, Long Story Short, four, Miller five, Muppet six, Beyond Big Helium Dog.... Six and a half.

Toby: Beyond Big Helium Dog?

Brian: Yeah. I'm doing a sequel before the movie's even sold. That's a smart idea. (laughter)

Bill: We see this not as a movie, but as a franchise, along with a list of commercial tie-ins and a potential network television series. Not with the same actors, of course-

Brian: Beyond Big Helium Dog, or Big Helium Dog 2, has all the characters that I thought worked in the first one but didn't have enough screen time; they get boosted up to co- starring level. That includes him. (Indicates Quinn) Brian was in it for two minutes- what was it?

Quinn: Yeah, two minutes.

Brian: Yeah. He gets boosted to a supporting character in this one.

Bill: And for the sequel, Brian has asked for twenty million dollars.

Brian: So we're going to replace him.

Vincent: He will be played by Tony Danza.

Brian: No, the guy from El Mariachi, what's the guy's name? No, the guy from the sequel- Antonio Banderas. That's who I want to play Vance in the sequel.

Kevin: Scott Baio.

Brian: Scott Baio will play Charlie, he'll be the lead. Scott Baio. We're trading up.

Quinn: Charles in Charge.

Brian: There will be a Charlie Osgood in Charge joke. That'll be funny. Charlie Osgood's the main character.

Toby: Yeah.

Brian: Did you read it?

Toby: I saw an older draft.

Brian: It's probably the same thing; I didn't improve on it or anything. How long ago did you get it?

Toby: Probably about halfway through Vulgar's shoot.

Brian: Oh yeah. I don't think it changed. Did you like it?

Toby: Hell yeah. It made me laugh.

Brian: Oh, okay. He- (indicates Vincent) played the Cigarette Fairy. Do you remember that part?

Toby: Oh yeah.

Brian: (Indicates Quinn) He played Vance, who's Chastity's live-in lover. (Indicates Kevin) He played one of the grips, that comes in and saves Charlie. (Indicates Bill) He had no real part.

Toby: Who'd you play?

Brian: Kevin Smith played the director in it, and I play his assistant-

Vincent: Just standing next to him-

Brian: And Kevin's talking to me, and I don't know who he is. It's so quick.

Bill: It's funny.

Brian: I didn't really want to act and direct the first time out. I can barely direct, and I can barely act, so the two together, it's not a good thing.

Toby: Did you have any acting experience before A Better Place?

Brian: I don't think so. I mean, I was in plays in high school, and we shot some stuff in college. We shot mini-movies in college all the time, and since I was the only one who I knew would be there every day, I was usually the lead. But, I think A Better Place was definitely the biggest thing. And Chasing Amy, I stole that film. I was good in it. I do want to act; I wish I'd acted in Big Helium Dog, I just didn't. I couldn't do everything. I'm not a god, Toby.

Toby: I know.

Brian: You do?

Toby: How'd you go about casting it?

Brian: A lot of the supporting stuff was people that I did little movies with in college, that I knew were funny. Kevin and Vin were in Everybody's Dead, Vin was in a movie called It Came from Uranus. One and Two, actually. He's also in A Better Place; I knew he could act. We did a read-through, years ago, before we shot the movie, and you were the Cigarette Fairy. Remember how good you were? It was in the Meadow Theatre. The female lead, Lorene, I gave her the script two years ago. She tried out for Vin's movie, and I met her there. I think I was trying to impress her, like, "Hey, I wrote a screenplay, wanna read it? I'm planning on making it". She was the only one of the original people that I wrote the parts for. I wrote the two other leads-three other leads-Huber, Charlie, and Ray-for performers from Red Bank. They just did readings, and for one reason or another, they weren't ready or right for the leads. They all have little parts in the movie. I cast the actual lead-he's in the comedy troupe of the guy who tried out and failed to get the lead. So we stole him from that guy.

Vincent: And ended a friendship in the process.

Brian: Yeah, we ended a friendship. That's okay. The other lead came in and auditioned; Quinn and I went through head shots and called people that we thought would be right. Mike Linstroth. He was awesome. The other lead came from a movie called Puddle Cruiser, which was produced by our producer, and it's one of my favorite independent movies. It's really funny, it's a really sharp, well-written comedy.

Vincent: He was the best part of the movie.

Brian: He stole it. And he plays the devil, the villain. And the other guy who narrates it, Martin Huber, who's kind of the overseer of everything, he was played by Michael Ian Black, from Viva Variety and The State. Kim [Loughran] knows his brother, we sent him the script, he liked it.

Toby: Yeah, he was up at NYU right around the time he was shooting Big Helium Dog, so I mentioned it to him... He was like, "Oh, you know about that?"

Brian: Was he ashamed? (laughter)

Toby: Not at all.

Brian: It was funny-me, Vin, and Lorene went to his apartment in New York to rehearse with him. And he's got long monologues, like paragraph-long.... Paragraph-long, like that's a huge thing. For this movie, that's a long thing.

Bill: He has sentences linked together!

Brian: He's got four words at a time! He's not on screen with anyone; he just talks to the camera in a cowfield. He came and when we did the rehearsal, he didn't know one line. After half an hour, I was like, "This is getting us nowhere, let's just go. I trust you, you'll be funny, don't worry about it". And he called that day, asking us if he had lost the part, if we were mad at him. I said no, we can't fire the name actor in the movie. So he came in, and he was- Remember how great that day was?

Kevin: It was fantastic.

Brian: He did comedy monologues all day, and he would throw in lines. We'd use the best takes. His stuff... It's not even scenes, it's literally him doing stand-up. I can watch it over and over; I don't get tired of it. The rest of the movie, I'm sick of. I don't want any part of it.

Toby: How'd the shoot go?

Brian: Oh, it was great. Wasn't it? Everybody got along so well, and-

Vincent: I had fun.

Brian: I mean, it was a happy crew. It was great. It was like in college, when we shot movies.

Kevin: On a larger scale-

Brian: "I guess maybe we should film today", that kind of thing. I mean, it was tiring, we rushed through it, because we had nine thousand different scenes a day.... On the first day of shooting, how many scenes did we go through?

Vincent: We went through eight and a half pages.

Toby: Wow.

Vincent: A lot was interiors....

Brian: I think every scene that we shot on the first day made it into the movie in its entirety. We didn't edit one thing out of it. It was the grandparents scene, it was the Gen X scene, and it was the devil's arrival.

Vincent: We did take out that one long pan.

Brian: Yeah, a pan to a car. We'd have a bad day of shooting, and then we'd do one scene and it would make up for it.

Toby: You shot on 16mm?

Brian: Yeah, and color.

Toby: Who was the DP?

Brian: Tom Agnello. He did a music video that you and I (indicating Vincent) worked on. It was for Lizard Music-was that the name of the band?

Vincent: Yeah, Lizard Music.

Brian: It was called "Soft Focus AM", it was directed by Paul Finn, who produced [Vincent's] movie.

Quinn: And also had the cameo in Ghostbusters.

Brian: He's also in Ghostbusters, which was a big selling point.

Toby: How many days of shooting did you do?

Vincent: It was eighteen, and we had two days off, and reshoots-

Brian: It evens out to twenty. Looking at it now, I don't know how it was twenty.

Vincent: There was coverage. It looks like a real feature. It doesn't look like an independent.

Brian: And not only that, it's not like there's one long scene, and then it'll go on to the next long scene. It's so broken up. It jumps all over. It looks like Sesame Street; no scene lasts for more than two seconds.

Bill: It's a movie for the MTV generation, it really is.

Brian: You'll watch it and you may not laugh once, and then a couple of months later, it'll hit you all of a sudden, because everything came at you so quick. You're like, "Oh yeah, farting". (laughter) "Oh yeah, 'cause he's dumb". It's quick, and Kevin encouraged us to be quicker with it. We did an early cut-what do you think the first cut was? An hour and forty-five minutes?

Vincent: About that.

Brian: He wanted it to be 85 to 95 minutes. I think the final cut is 99 minutes, 98.

Bill: No, it's 89 minutes.

Brian: That's right. It was, and then it came to 99, and he said, "Lop off some more". So the final cut before the credits and animation is 89 minutes. I didn't expect to look at it this way; when I was looking at it, I was like, "This is choppy, this is smacking people over the head. It isn't funny or charming or cool". I hope it came through. I think it may have.

Vincent: I've been away from editing for a month or so, and then I came back and watched the cut, and there were things that I chuckled at before. But now, the way that they're cut, cutting when he goes "Cannibals, all of em", BOOM. I laughed out loud.

Brian: We lopped off a page. It was strong in the script-

Vincent: It worked on film. It makes you laugh-

Brian: End with the biggest laugh.

Vincent: The other one where we did that was with "I've been busy", BOOM.

Brian: You know what I like; this guy, Scott Mosier, plays an activist that goes on forever. He does this one thing where twenty seconds before the scene ended was the biggest laugh. Everyone laughed, and then there's a little thing that takes a while to get to. It gets a little laugh; it gets a chuckle. We cut the little thing, and it ends on the strong one. "Thank you, Carl"-it just goes out on that. It's strong.

Bill: It's rapid-fire.

Brian: We'll make up for it. The next movie will be really boring.

Vincent: I think we should go into it again and just cut out those jokes. Cut right before those jokes.

Brian: "And then you-" "But I've had se-"

Quinn: That's a good idea.

Brian: The script I just finished is 126 pages, and I don't think that it deserves the MTV cut treatment. I think it's kind of a story. It's going to have to be a little more cut up.

Toby: What's the plan with the film, now?

Brian: Show it to Miramax. We get Kevin's approval, do a temp sound mix, and then we show it to Miramax. If they don't like it, then we burn it.

Bill: Yeah.

Brian: We take it to festivals and show it to people.

Bill: And then we're going to sell the frames; for ten of them, it's ten dollars. If you want to order now, you can probably take some with you.

Toby: Have you gotten any publicity on it so far?

Brian: Asbury Park Press did two articles on it.

Vincent: Ain't It Cool News.

Brian: Ain't It Cool Movie News just mentioned it, and called me a Nazi. A couple of weeks ago, they said, "Brian Lynch's movie's funny, even though the guy's a total Nazi".

Kevin: Neon.

Brian: Yeah, Neon. We got a pretty cool write-up in there. Then I wrote back to them. And another little British magazine that wasn't Neon got the scene totally wrong. "In it, the director claims that the boy was cured of cancer simply because he smiled". I was like, did I write that? (laughter)

Vincent: There was something like that in the Independent...

Brian: Oh, it was awesome. It was in the Independent, the thing that you get at the end of your driveway for free. Did you read the scene where the director screws up and puts Charlie in as the stripper?

Toby: Yeah.

Brian: Well, we shot it, and the lady asked me what the scene was about. And I told her that the director screws up, and the actor who plays Charlie is forced to play the stripper, and the stripper is forced to play Charlie. So I get the newspaper, and in it it says, "In this scene, the main character doesn't know if his girlfriend is cheating on him at the strip club, so he poses as a stripper to go and spy on her". I'm not making Three's Company. That's what it seemed like, a "wacky misunderstanding". That lady had no personality; I'd be talking, and she'd be like, "What? Okay, I don't understand a word you're saying." She asked, "What kind of movie is it?" I said, "Kind of like Kids in the Hall." "Oh, I don't know them." "Monty Python." "Who's he? What's this comedy that you speak of?" It's a cool picture, though. It had our lead in the stripper outfit, and Tom Agnello looking confused. Kris Van Cleave's in it, too.

Toby: Did you have any difficulties while shooting?

Vincent: Sound....

Brian: We had a location where construction was going on across the street from us.

Toby: Which location?

Brian: The lakeside.

Bill: And then it burning down...

Brian: Oh yeah, that's a good story. With reshoots, there's a little bonfire that's in a garbage can. We threw things into a garbage can. It was self-contained.

Toby: The cat?

Brian: Yeah, they throw the cat in and everything. (laughs) We left, and-

Vincent: Everything was fine.

Brian: The fire was out. Evidently...the fire restarted and took down the pier. And a bunch of trees. And a guy's boat.

Bill: Did it really take down the pier?

Brian: Yeah.

Vincent: Half the pier.

Brian: Half the pier's gone. You know what's funny-Lorene was driving away to go to school, and she saw all the firetrucks racing. She's like, "That's.....odd". Then she looked over and saw the fire coming from the house; she's like, "I thought that was weird". I go, "You thought that was weird? You were in the scene, you knew there was fire involved." She's like, "Yeah, but I had to go to school". Okay. So, it burned down the boat, the pier, some trees....

Kevin: She was still in character, Brian.

Brian: And if the firemen hadn't gotten there in the couple of minutes that they did, it would have taken down houses.

Toby: Jesus.

Brian: It would have been good publicity, sort of like Brandon Lee in The Crow. We would've wiped out a whole town. They were happy, the people, they got a new boat... Actually, they used the insurance money to get something other than a boat.

Kevin: He didn't want the boat anymore.

Brian: He was like, "Oh, good riddance". And you know what's funny-there's a reference to a fire at the lake written way before any fires at the lake.

Kevin: Brian's a prophet.

Quinn: There was one night during post-production involving an injured pigeon.

Brian: A cat attacked a pigeon, and we had to go help it. We thought it was making up for all the bad shit that we'd been doing during the movie. We took the pigeon and helped it. (pause) But there's got to be something.... Wasn't there something during the shoot?

Vincent: We had to reshoot an entire sequence, because it was just framed awfully. We got the dailies back, and it was terrible.

Brian: Oh yeah, the strip club where we had, what, fifteen pages of dialogue to do that day, and the strip club said, "You have to be out of here by five".

Toby: You shot at the Cabaret?

Brian: We shot at the Cabaret Go-Go and then Fantasies. But yeah, everything went well for such a big cast.

Vincent: Everything like that is not unusual at this budget. Locations pulled out....

Brian: Locations go up in flames.... You know.... These things happen.

Bill: That was covered. It's not like anything awful happened.

Kevin: A couple of personality conflicts, that's about it.

Brian: Some people didn't have any.

Vincent: Overall, there were the typical stresses involved with a film set. There was nothing major, nothing bad.

Brian: Yeah, but even the stresses weren't that bad; they were pretty fun.

Vincent: I think I had the most fun I've ever had on a film set.

Brian: Me, too. It's the most power I've ever had.

Toby: (to Vincent) Was it interesting for you to go from directing a film to ADing one?

Vincent: Yeah, it was. I had a lot of fun ADing; I dug it. You're in charge of the crew and keeping things moving, and I found that to be a lot of fun. And also translating between Brian and the DP, and really riding the DP, because Brian was busy with the actors. Really riding that guy as far as getting the shots framed up the way they should be framed, and so on, and so forth.

Brian: We also didn't have a monitor, so we had to trust the DP.

Vincent: I had a lot of fun; I really dug it, but then again, I kind of ADed A Better Place, too. It was because we didn't have a crew. I dug it, I loved it.

Toby: Did post-production go smoothly as well?

Brian: Oh, yeah. So far. Each time Kevin watches it, I guess it's our job to make him happy so we can get to the next step, and he's liked it more and more. It's gone long, but it's fun. It's the longest part of the process.

Vincent: We specifically went for a slow edit, though. I don't know about you, but my whole take on it that, when I made A Better Place, I kind of rushed through the editing in a way, and finished cutting in four months. And it took another two years for the film to be completed. So I figured, why should we rush it when it could take that long to get the funds and finish post-production? We should sit down with it and take our time with the editing. I think it worked out well that way.

Toby: How much of the cast was made up of people who weren't trained in acting?

Quinn: A lot of the people that he mentioned didn't have head shots. I know I didn't.

Brian: You mean people who had acted in school?

Toby: Training or prior experience, I guess.

Bill: What's funny is that Matt and Linstroth had experience, and so did Lorene. But the supporting guys, like Quinn and Vin,-though Vin had experience on his movie-me, and someone like Scott Engerson... Those guys had no experience. But some other people had head shots, and lists and lists of stuff, and we'd just say, "Sit here and pretend that you're talking to someone".

Quinn: A lot of people from Howard Stern's Body Parts.

Brian: Body Parts?

Bill: They sent in a lot of head shots.

Vincent: You mean Private Parts. Body Parts was the....

Brian: (laughing) I think some of the people that had training, I didn't like as much as the people who did stuff off the cuff. His [Quinn's] part, as written, was funny, and it was fun to watch and all, but you wouldn't realize that it would blow up like that. And now, you're side by side with- I want to get pretty serious actors to play against you. I have more faith in you than I do in them. And Crimmins and Nick, having never acted at all..... I think it's fun to see people do it for the first time and do it that well. I think it's cool, instead of having the ninth movie on their resume be this one.

Toby: Was it difficult to deal with people with different styles of acting?

Brian: Did anyone have a different style?

Vincent: Well, we rehearsed for what? Two months?

Brian: It was really loose rehearsals, too. You just did your character until we thought it was funny; we worked at it. We said, "We'll do it more angry", or "do this line like Antonio Banderas would do it in Desperado". That's what I said to Nick a couple of times. But Linstroth, who plays Ray, the second lead, he had this list of why Ray is who he is, and what happened to him in his life to get him to that point. Why he loves Chastity-I remember it said "Big breasts" in quotes on his script, and I thought, "That'".

Kevin: He really studied it?

Brian: Yeah, and it worked. Whatever he did worked, and you don't even look at this guy as one of those types of actors; you just don't. He's so much fun-

Vincent: Such a nice guy.

Brian: It's just funny..... You don't have backstory to these characters. These characters existed for the five minutes that they were on screen, and they'll never exist again. There is no background.

Vincent: But some actors just do that.

Brian: They need it.

Vincent: I remember this one day on the set, his suicide scene, when you guys were trying to joke with him, and he just wanted to.... He was just sitting there; I remember some guy was giving Michael some shit, trying to joke with him or get him to respond, and he wouldn't respond. And I told them, "Stop. Just let him be".

Brian: And speaking of that kind of thing, Michael Ian Black would walk around, when it wasn't his time to go, and talk to himself, do the scenes to himself. A couple of people on the crew took that as him being snobbish. And I was like, "He's not being snobbish; he's trying to do the best performance that he can".

Vincent: Other people took it as psychotic.

Brian: And that's a different kind of acting style; he kept playing with it and playing with it. Me and him, and me and Kevin, had the same kind of thing. When they acted, they would throw in nine hundred things, and I'd be like, "'Leave that out', 'take that out', 'that's kind of too much'". But it all kind of meshed together.

Toby: How much did the actors stick to the script, as opposed to improvising?

Brian: I think everyone stuck to it-

Vincent: Except for Huber.

Brian: Except for Huber. And Kevin, Kevin went nuts with his. Kevin threw in a bunch of stuff, and I'd yell "Cut" and be like, "Maybe take that back", or "Why don't you try this?". For the most part, his stuff worked great; I remember a couple of people on the crew that day going, "Why's he doing it so over the top? It's annoying." I was like, "It may be annoying when you see it nine times in a row, but when you see the best one over the course of the movie, it's really going to work". But I think everyone stuck to the script, mostly. Linstroth had a couple of little things-facial expressions and body movements that just came out of nowhere, and are great.

Vincent: The look he gave for Ray in the Gen X scene.

Brian: And Vance, some of the stuff that Vance- (to Quinn) Did you ad lib anything? Every day that you were on the set, even when you weren't doing a scene, we'd play with Vance somewhat. We'd come up with such a story for him....

Quinn: No one would call me Vance; everyone would call me Brian. I mean, no one would call me Brian; everyone would call me Vance.

Brian: I mean, we were at the strip club, he was in the background of the strip club, and he had to go across the street to his car. And he went across the street in character, and would wave to cars....

Quinn: One car almost stopped.

Brian: It totally shows. And if we keep using that character, and I didn't intend to when I wrote it, but I want to now, that it doesn't overstate its welcome, that it doesn't overstate its welcome. Like the cheerleaders on Saturday Night Live. People would go, "Oh, it's that kid in the robe again".

Vincent: I think if you kept him to the extent that Kevin keeps Jay and Silent Bob...

Brian: Yeah, but he's a little more overbearing then them. And he's so likable, I don't want to push it. A lot of the characters in Big Helium Dog, and in most of the scripts, are one-joke characters. They're there for that joke and then they move on. I want to make sure that that joke isn't stretched out over the course of five years.

Vincent: That, actually, is my favorite scene in the film-his first.

Brian: That and the infomercial are my two favorites. And Joey Lawrence, and stuff.

Kevin: Mine's the lakeside with the grips.

Brian: I started writing a screenplay with Martin Huber in the lead, him interacting with people, and his backstory, and what happened to him, just because I like watching him so much. And I always said that, that I liked him in script form. Remember? I was really careful with Martin Huber; I like how sarcastic he is, but that he doesn't let you know that he's one above you. That's one thing that I'm really going to be anal about with that script. I'm finding it funny, but maybe if it's coming from such a personal place in me, maybe it's not.... Maybe I'm not wording that right. I just want to make sure that it doesn't overstate its welcome-any of the characters.

Toby: Is most of the stuff you've written comedy?

Brian: Yeah, I think everything I've written it. Everybody's Dead is a mixture of comedy and slapsticky horror; over the top, like Dead Alive and Evil Dead and Army of Darkness. Not nearly as good as them. It's fast comedy, that kind of stuff. It's not all the same type of humor. But yeah, comedy comes easiest for me, and I'm lazy.

Toby: So, how exactly did you end up getting referred to as a Nazi on Ain't It Cool News?

Brian: I don't know.

Vincent: I don't know, either.

Brian: Some people on Kevin's board don't like me.

Quinn: I think that's where it came from.

Vincent: The guy who wrote that had to be at Montclair, because that's where all the information came from, from my Q & A at Montclair.

Brian: A couple of people on the board.... I make fun of them, and some people get the joke-my friends get the joke-and some people don't. And when you see it written out, maybe a joke isn't as funny as when you hear it. You have to put some sarcasm, like a smiley face or a wink after it so I can make sure that people understand. I put "Snooch" or "Nooch" or whatever, and then they get it. But a lot of people think I'm just an asshole. If the wrong people don't like me, then that's fine. I don't care.

Toby: Has anyone outside of the crew and the producers seen the film?

Brian: SPIN magazine, a lady from that saw it, saw half of it. Playboy saw half of it. Asbury Park Press, the reviewer saw it.

Vincent: John Pierson, Bob Hawk. Did Pierson watch all of it yet?

Brian: No. He watched up until-

Vincent: He watched up until the lakeside.

Brian: Up until the eulogy. The response has been pretty cool. Getting back to Vance, I enjoyed that scene so much, I was afraid that I enjoyed it because I was friends with Quinn. After seeing people's reactions to it, it means that it shows through.

Vincent: You should mention Bob Hawk-his reaction to the script versus the film.

Brian: Bob Hawk read the script, and he was like, "Don't do this script. Just.... Don't do it. It's cruel, people are not going to understand the joke. It's not funny when you hurt old people, it's not funny when you throw cats in the fire. You can't get people this funny to do the lines". He said, "Maybe Jim Carrey could pull this off; you're not going to get, for your money, Jim Carrey".

Kevin: He said that?

Brian: Yeah.

Bill: Although we did approach him.

Brian: We tried. But his least favorite scenes were the grandparents with the clapper, and the cat being thrown into the fire. He said, "Get rid of them, or this movie's Lucifer. This movie's from Hell". And he watched it, and those are his two favorite things. He laughed out loud. And I called him on it; I said, "You didn't like that in the script". He was like, "No, I liked it, what are you talking about? You're insane!" (laughs) And Kevin was like, "No, Bob, you didn't". He was like, "Oh, well... You did well." He liked all of the performances, which was cool. He liked the film overall. He still doesn't like two lines- when Charlie says, "The only way I could make a significant impact on the world is if I was the first person to get a virus that would wipe out half the population; I'm just not that lucky". Ray goes, "You never know", and Charlie says, "No, believe me, I've tried- unprotected sex, using other people's needles..." [Bob] said that AIDS isn't funny. But we don't name AIDS. We don't say it's AIDS, and Charlie's so dumb.... If anyone takes one thing seriously.....

Kevin: The joke is him actually trying to do it. That's the joke.

Brian: It's the fact that he's going through the motions of having sex with prostitutes just to get a disease.

Kevin: The disease itself is not the joke.

Brian: But Bob and Kevin both said that if Charlie said it more deranged and cartoony, like I guess a curly mustache going like this, that people would know he's kidding. But if it's in that movie, you know he's kidding.

Bill: He does do a little hand rub.

Brian: Are people going to see it and go, "I liked that comedy, but it got real serious for ten seconds"? "I can't believe he was trying to start a virus! That was never picked up on again!" But I didn't take it out. I'm hoping they forget. I'll distract them or something. (laughs) Get little sparklers.

Toby: But then they'll see the interview...

Brian: Well, they're not going to see that part of the interview.

Toby: Okay.

Brian: I'll rip that page off, and be like, "You don't have to read that". If we're going to start cutting things because they're offensive, then the movie's ten minutes long. We can't start cutting things because one person finds it offensive. Someone who was Jewish and a woman didn't like anything referring to Jews or women.

Vincent: Or the Tourette's Syndrome one.

Brian: Yeah, and it's such a quick thing, when they're using the Ouija board. It starts saying weird names, and they go, "Maybe Ray has Tourette's". They said, "I don't know if I can endorse this, because my brother has Tourette's". And first of all, it was a secretary in an office who said this. What, I don't get your endorsement? "Oh no! Jane at the front desk says that..." And if you're noticing that it makes fun of women and Jews because you're a woman and Jewish, also notice that it makes fun of everything else. You can't start picking things out...

Kevin: It has Jesus Christ dressed up as a cop.

Brian: And isn't the main character the biggest insult to white males?

Kevin: It makes fun of the Catholic religion, with the fax machine...

Brian: And God misspelling, and Jesus with a gun....

Bill: It's not the type of movie that's going to raise any flags. No one's going to get pissed off...

Brian: Dullards who have nothing to do with their time and have posterboards and pens and want to go protest. If you're going to pick and choose....

Bill: Hey, man, bring 'em on. It's free publicity. (laughs)

Vincent: We should make a poster-you know how, with Last Temptation of Christ, they were up in arms because Christ had sex in the dream sequence? We should have the tag line be "See Christ fuck!"

Brian: Or it should just be Christ with a gun on the poster. I really want the movie to be "Finally, a movie for everyone. Except _____ ". Wouldn't that be great? The lead, in a field of flowers, smelling one, and looking nice, and "Finally, a movie for everyone. Except..." I'd go see it. I have a feeling that the poster's going to be something lame, anyway. It'll be Charlie like this. (makes a weird face) It'll probably be a Clerks thing- it'll say "From the producers of Clerks", and it'll have Michael Ian Black, Dickie Barrett, and Kevin all arm-in-arm. Oh, and I love the line, "If you loved Big Helium Dog, you'll love Big Helium Dog", and "From the people who brought you Big Helium Dog".

Toby: How'd you get Dickie Barrett?

Brian: One of the interns last summer used to work for him, and passed him the script. He was funny about it-he was like, "It's all right. It's not gonna change the world. It's pretty good". But the movie's not supposed to change the world, unless it's for the worse.

Quinn: He's a great guy, though.

Brian: He was so much fun. Every crew member wanted to take pictures with him.

Quinn: We were sitting there, and he was handcuffed, rehearsing his lines, and I was just like, "I'm thirsty". The guy got up and ran over to the cooler in handcuffs and got me a coke, opened it for me, and gave it to me.

Brian: He's just a nice guy.

Toby: Who's he playing?

Brian: He plays an inmate in the Law Bitch scene, where the girl's kind of incompetent. He gets to make out with a pretty decent-looking girl.

Quinn: He keeps in touch with her.

Brian: Yeah, they're friends. They made a love connection. We saw him at Saturday Night Live recently, and he was all excited to see us. I guess he didn't have too bad a time.

Bill: He came in a plaid suit.

Brian: Yeah, he came in a plaid suit. He just said how honored he was to be a part of it. I thought, "Christ, this is cool, having you in it. Why are you honored to be in it?"

Kevin: It felt like we rented Home Alone.

Brian: "Yessss!" "Hey, can you play my little sister's high school prom?" "I'd be honored!" The wheels are turning. I thought that all of the people who I expected to be pricks weren't at all. There's one guy who has a cameo... He was one of the coolest people that I've met, and he still sends me letters and stuff.

Quinn: He calls once a week to see how things are going.

Brian: We were talking about Dexy's Midnight Runners on the set, and he was just like, "I've got their first two CDs on tape." I asked him if he could make me a copy. He's like, "Sure". I never expected to get it. Then one day in the mail, I get this long letter saying, "These songs are good". I was like, "Wow". It was handwritten.... He's just cool. And Michael Ian Black calls and asks about the film, and he was great. Who else? Well, Kevin, he's a name. JJ North, of Attack of the 50 Foot Centerfold. She was the lead, and you can see her-

Quinn: JJ North is in the Howard Stern studio, on the bathroom door. A poster of her.

Brian: So, everyone that we expected to be pricks, weren't.

Quinn: Freddy Bender.

Brian: Freddy Bender. We got a bunch of tapes that got sent in-actually, they were sent in for Vulgar, because we didn't take out any of those spiffy ads in Backstage or anything. We got these tapes that were public access, these little mini-movies. It was about this guy who was super-suave; women dropped trou at the sight of him, were just like, "Oh God, I'm so in love with you" instantly. And the guy was sixty-five, he looks like Ed O'Neill. But he was funny as hell in the movies. He got you through it.

Bill: His acting was so bad...

Brian: It was over the top. I don't know if it was bad....

Vincent: He wrote and directed them...

Brian: He didn't write and direct them. Dave Gold did.

Vincent: I thought he wrote one.

Brian: Dave Gold wrote 'em all. But he brought his own stuff, too. (laughs) It was stuff like, someone would get shot, and they'd fall back- If the camera was shooting right here, they'd fall back a couple of feet off of it, and then move over to the camera. They'd trip over mic wires. The guy suddenly became rich over the course of the movie, and you saw that he became rich because he had a new chair in his living chair. More like one extra chair-the other two were still there.

Kevin: It wasn't even a living room. Don't be fooled. It was a curtain.

Brian: He needed to drink coffee at all times. A girl got shot in front of him-he goes, "Oh god, Oh god," he goes to the phone to dial 911, but he drinks coffee before it. You've got to get the coffee in. And he calls the operator, and goes, "Yeah, operator? Someone's been shot. Yeah, Maple Avenue". Then he hangs up. (laughs) And the line, "I never thought I'd make it to the top, but deep down, I always knew I'd make it to the top". That was one of the lines. "Oh, what a tangled web we sling". The Spider-Man reference. What was some of the other stuff?

Vincent: The bit with the slides.

Brian: He had slides of naked women, and he'd just look at them and go "Awoooo! Awoo wooo!!!", and we didn't understand why. And he'd be drinking his coffee the whole time, and he'd go "Ah, blackie," because he drank it with no sugar or milk. He'd say it over and over again. And once he said it to a girl-he was serving it to a girl, and she was gorgeous, an Amazon, and she was in love with him instantly. And we quoted him every day. He was our hero. His name's Freddy Bender, and we posted on the View Askew board every day, "Freddy Bender is coming-get ready". They were like, "Who the hell is Freddy Bender?" Everyone had their own theories, like, "Isn't he on the Mallrats laserdisc?" (laughs) We had him come in for an audition, and we has Lorene read with him. It's the funniest thing-

Vincent: This guy walked in the door, said nothing, and we were all on the floor laughing.

Brian: He was funny as a lot of the stuff, too-like Kendrick and as Anton.

Quinn: He was my first pick for Kendrick.

Brian: He was insane. And eventually, he got a really little part-he's the guy who Charlie talks to in the bar. He's also the dead husband, because we wanted to bring him back. We needed an excuse to bring him back. So he's walking around as a corpse, and he's got the purple makeup on his whole body, and he's in a little bathing suit. And he's hitting on the women in bikinis. He's like, "I sure hope you give ME mouth-to-mouth". (laughs) But don't ask him if these women had eyes, because he was right on the silicone the whole time he was talking to 'em. We shot at Lorene's house, and she went, "Hey, where'd Freddy go?" She went upstairs and he walked out of the shower, and the floor was all purple from the makeup. She went, "Oh..... Freddy....showered in my house". He was nuts-remember how he'd fall asleep in the middle of the strip club? And I went and slept next to him? (laughter) Everyone took pictures with him. The guy is.... We've got to get you a picture of him. There's one of Vance and me and him. I'll get it to you. He was great; he was the best part of the movie. (to Quinn) You wrote a part for him in yours, right?

Quinn: Yeah, I wrote a script, and I've got a part written for him.

Brian: He's so funny. He had a line in the movie where he was supposed to go "Ya see?" and he just did it like "Ya see there?" The way he does it makes Kevin and Scott ask me to rewind it when they're watching-"I want to see that funny old guy again!"

Kevin: I love that line, too.

Brian: "My friends are all.....dead".

Vincent: "I had a...woman once. One I didn't have to pay".

Brian: He came for rehearsal, and we told him what part he had. And he came with the script in his hand-"Oh, I'm Charlie?" And I'm like, "You're here for one day of rehearsal. You think Charlie gets one day?" And he's just like, "I dunno. He has the most lines". I'm like, "Yeah. You're getting the most lines". I think he kind of figured that, since we laughed so hard at his audition. I guess he thinks that we laughed at everybody like that, because he got a five-line part. It was great.

Vincent: He was reading for Anton, and Lorene was reading next to him, and he did a line, and Lorene just started cracking up. He just did it in character-"Ho ho ho!"

Brian: The line was.... She goes, "What would you say if I told you that I found your movies offensive in virtually every way imaginable?" And his line was, "Marlene, I'd say you were a lying whore". But he goes, "Merlin, I'd say you're a lying whore! Ho ho ho!" And you could hear her breathe and try to do the line, and you could even hear you going, "Okay, Lorene", trying to move it along. He just joined in with her. The guy's got a party in his head, and he's the only one invited. He's great. We also cast someone else from that; we cast one of his love interests. She plays the jock's mom. She has one line in the final cut, not because of anything she did. She was great. I have a part for her in something else I wrote. And she knits.

Bill: Some people may doubt the veracity of her knitting.

Brian: Kim watched it, and she said, "Brian, her bad knitting is bothering me". Some of the other stuff just really worked out, like the scene where Charlie switches with the stripper. As written, it's pretty funny, but the girl we had do it has a thick Argentinean accent. I think that she thinks that whenever she has a line, it's going to be a close-up, so she does her best to draw it out. Her line is, "But he was my best friend." She goes, "But he was....... my... best.....-"

All: "friend......".

Vincent: The one that kills me is when she's like, "I thought.... that if I came here...... it would help me..... forget.... what's troubling... me.....but I was wrong".

Brian: And each time she did it, Agnello would be like, "Film rollout!"

Kevin: In her audition, she nailed it because of the accent.

Brian: There were only a couple of people where we knew right away. It was Miss Stack, the lady who's Charlie and Ray's boss-

Quinn: A part written for a guy, too.

Brian: Yeah. I had pictured an old fat guy, and this lady came in-

Kevin: She rocked.

Vincent: She did real well.

Brian: She's the only intelligent person in the movie, I think.

Vincent: And she's a black woman.

Quinn: Michael Linstroth, almost immediately.

Brian: Especially because the only other guy we had for Ray was the guy right before him. He was okay, but right after he was done, he was like, "I really don't want to be here. I'm out of here!" He was in the room next to us, and I said, "God, what a fuckin' prick! The guy's auditioning for us, and he's a prick!" And you were there, saying, "Bri, he's right next to you". And I said, "I know he's right there! He's a total asshole!" And he wrote me a letter, saying "I had a really good time, and I'm really looking forward to working with you". I was like, "All right.... You can pull my car around, I guess".

Kevin: Michael Linstroth looked a little bit like Zack from Saved by the Bell.

Vincent: Well, that's what you called him initially.

Brian: Oh, yeah! "He looks like Zack!" You know what's funny-our lead has big, bushy, curly hair, and he's got the blonde hair, and they look like Screech and Zack. Speaking of Screech-

Quinn: We tried to get him to do it.

Brian: And he wouldn't, because we didn't have enough money. We couldn't fly him out. He's a spoiled actor. Now he's doing Kung Fu Shoes, a straight-to-video movie with Cynthia Rothrock. So, who wins? We win. Who else didn't we get? Craig Kilborn.

Vincent: You tried for him for a while.

Brian: He was cool about it; he was like, "I have no doubt that this movie will be successful".

Quinn: I went to his show, I met with him.

Brian: He was like, "I'm not about the money; I'm all about the art".

Quinn: He was really serious-"I'm an artist". And I started laughing, and he said, "You do know I'm an artist, right?" And he's really funny; he's a really nice guy.

Brian: I get emails every day asking me if I know I look like him. Colin Quinn was the best-he was doing a night at the Roxbury, so he couldn't, but he was so cool about it. I want him to be in the next one. You know what the funniest thing was? David Lee Roth. We asked him to be in it, and he said, "I'm real honored, but I'm not an actor".

Toby: Where'd you get the title?

Brian: One of my film teachers in college, somebody asked him what he thought of John Hughes movies. He said, "I think the early ones are funny, but the newer ones all bite the big helium dog". So I ripped it off. And he wrote the script, and taught me how to direct. Want to know how I came up with the title Everybody's Dead?

Toby: Sure.

Brian: Everybody dies. It makes more sense than Big Helium Dog.

Toby: What are your plans for shooting in the future?

Brian: I have a bunch of scripts that I'd like to do; I just don't know which one is the most ready to do. Long Story Short would be cool to do, because it's smarter, and it shows that I can do something more intelligent. But it's 126 pages right now. Miller Minogue is the exact same type of movie, so maybe I could try that. Everybody's Dead would be a good stretch. I always wanted to do Everybody's Dead more than anything else; Big Helium Dog was just to make Everybody's Dead, I think. I mean, Big Helium Dog's good, but-

Vincent: It's no Everybody's Dead.

Brian: Everybody's Dead will be good.

Kevin: Epic.

Brian: What are your plans?

Toby: Huh? Like what?

Brian: What do you want to do with your life?

Toby: Write.

Brian: Do you write scripts?

Toby: I've finished one, and I did some rewriting of a script of my roommate's.

Brian: Do you want to direct?

Toby: Maybe.

Brian: That's cool. Are the scripts cheap? Can you do them cheap?

Toby: The one that I rewrote is more of an action movie, but that's his thing, not mine. The one I wrote is smaller.

Brian: So it's possible to do it for...

Toby: Yeah.

Brian: The first script that I wrote in high school, Rook-

Vincent: The opening sequence is "We are hurtling through the cosmos. We come upon a planet. There is a sixty-foot television screen on the floor or an auditorium full of aliens". (laughs) "A little man floats out on stage".

Brian: There's a reference to what year it's set in in the screenplay. I wrote it in '89, '88. I thought, "Well, I have to make it realistic-I'll make the year around '91. This'll take me a couple of years to get the budget". What had I done before that? This was a hundred million dollar screenplay. I still think that if I rewrote it, that it would be pretty good. It's pretty goofy; it might be better animated. Or not done.

Vincent: Deny that it even exists.

Brian: Yeah, but at the same time, it helped me to get to this point in terms of writing. Actually, this is a good story. I started writing a Gen X movie in college, totally inspired by Kevin-"Oh, if he can make it in a convenience store...". I did twenty pages of it, and I showed it to two of my friends, and they were like, "This is horrible". "This is the most derivative piece of crap on earth; why don't you do something original, like you've been doing in college? Don't go for the mainstream". That weekend, I wrote Big Helium Dog. A couple of ideas from that screenplay-the one I trashed-are in Long Story Short.

Kevin: So, you stayed up for three straight days writing?

Brian: Actually, I think I drank, and then skipped class, and then I went home, told my parents I got an A, and then wrote on my dad's computer.

Toby: How many drafts did you go through?

Brian: Five?

Lorene Scafaria: Five.

Brian: I don't think there was much of a difference; it was basically just cutting stuff out.

Vincent: There were lots of little changes, too.

Brian: Vance was one. Vance was late in the game. Do you know the story behind Vance? I wrote Ray for somebody else, and he was terrible as Ray in the first read-through. So, then I gave him Kendrick, and then realized that he was too young for Kendrick. So I totally wrote Vance to appease him. I thought, "Well, he can do Vance, it's five lines, he'll sleepwalk through it". Quinn had been doing the Vance read-throughs whenever someone auditioned for Ray. So, we gave it to Quinn. That other guy just kept getting knocked down the ladder. He was Ray, the lead; then he was Kendrick, who's a really prominent supporting character; then it was Vance; and now he's got one line. He did it really well, though.

Vincent: He sells that line.

Brian: I even thought that Vance would get trimmed down in the final thing. I just did that to make it up for that guy.

Toby: So, what do you see happening with Vance in the future?

Brian: There's two things that are going to happen to Vance in the future. In the sequel, he's really prominent, and he makes a new friend, and he pals around with him. I'm not going to say who the new friend is, because we probably can't get him anyway. The other thing that's going to happen to Vance is... He lives with Lorene's character in Big Helium Dog, and she kicks him out, and he goes off on his own thing. He-I really want to write this script, but I don't know if it's a good idea-he may team up with somebody else. I may plug him into another script that I did, because the character that I wrote in it needs something, and it would be really funny if it was Vance. It would involve Vance with a lot of guns. Killing aliens. Hunt the Wumpus, but with Vance.

Toby: Hunt the Wumpus? Oh, shit!

Brian: Okay, maybe I won't do it.

Toby: No; I remember Hunt the Wumpus, and periodically I get the title running through my head, even though it's been ten years since the last time I played it.

Brian: The title's not copyrighted; we looked into it. It's about a guy attacking a lobster, a big alien lobster. There won't be alien lobsters in my movie; we're just using the name.

Quinn: We'll have alien crabs.

Brian: Alien sheep. And Vance will kill them. And that will be the end of my career. Vance on a horse, delivering a letter.

Vincent: That'll be your suicide note.

Brian: It's a science fiction satire, but the characters are so blank, I think we need to put a colorful one in there. I just like the idea of him going around with a big gun, in the robe, killing people and laughing at the same time. I think that would disturb people.

Vincent: It'd be funny.

Toby: I've got two more questions. One is, how did craft service prepare you to direct a film?

Brian: I don't think it really did. How'd it prepare me? I knew what movies were like.

Vincent: I think it was more along the lines of, in December of '95, Kevin read Big Helium Dog. He called me up first and was like, "This script is fucking hysterical, and I'd like to do it". I told Brian, and he was all excited. Then Chasing Amy rolled around, they needed craft service, and Brian was like, "Okay, if he's going to fund my movie, I'd better do something for him".

Brian: It did help in a couple of ways. The very first day of shooting, Kevin's like, "Can you go take Ben Affleck to go find a McDonald's?", because I'm from the area, and I know where all the McDonald'ses are. And I'm like, "Sure". So we were in the car, and he asked, "So, how do you know Kevin?" And he totally didn't want to know how I knew Kevin, he was just making small talk. I go, "Oh, I wrote a script that he's going to produce". And he goes, "Oh, that sounds neat". Totally wanting me to shut up at that point. And I thought, "Yeah! This'll prove myself to Kevin!" He's like, "Oh, great". And I go, "Do you want to read it?" And he says, "Uhhh....yeah". So I brought it to him the next day, and he said, "Oh, thanks". And the next day, he comes up to me and goes, "I totally didn't want to read that. I get scripts all the time from craft service people. That was the funniest screenplay I've read in the past couple of years". And then Kevin comes up to me and says, "Yeah, he was talking about it in the car, he's pushing me; he said, if you don't produce it, I'm going to take it from me and he's going to produce it". And then Joey came up to me and said, "Yeah, they were quoting from it all morning. It sounds annoying". And I said, "Thanks". And she said, "No, not the script, just how they were doing it".

Kevin: Wow. That could be the tag line.

Brian: But you'd have to press the poster, so you could hear her voice do it. Ben agreed to play the devil, and pushed Kevin to do it, and if not for that, I don't think it would be done this soon.

Kevin: I thought he was going to be Ray.

Brian: No, he was never going to be Ray. But he had to do Armageddon, so he couldn't be in it. I think he'll be in the next one.

Vincent: I remember that once, too, he was like, "If you guys aren't going to do it, then fuck you guys-I'm gonna take this script and do it for fifty thousand".

Brian: I remember that; it was Easter Sunday, at the actor table. If you knew the director or were an actor, you could sit there. And he was like, "Come on, Lynch! You're coming to my table!" I'm like, "I haven't gotten food yet". He said, "You don't need food". So he wanted to do it, but had to drop out. He and Matt and me, we're going to do this thing we're talking about over the phone, a UPN sitcom, about a diner in space. It's gonna be really good. It's going to be Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Shirley Hemple is going to be the waitress. It's a diner in space-they get all sorts of aliens coming in. It's going to be good.

Lorene: She's good.

Brian: It's going to be called Space Diner. They agreed to do it. (laughs)

Toby: What's the animation that you were talking about before?

Brian: We have a couple of scene changes-you know in the old Batman TV show, they had the Bat-symbol running up? We've got the big helium dog coming at you. We had a talk show in the film, to introduce these offensive sketches. We dropped the talk show because it was really long, and now we have a cartoon introducing the offensive sketches. So it's to make it look a little different; a little more like Sesame Street.

Bill: And as we said before, this is a franchise. So we're hoping that enough life is in the animation to spin off its own series. The dog will make its way onto hats, keychains, pencils, that sort of thing.

Brian: Bustiers.

Lorene: Cut-offs.

Vincent: Silk underwear.

Brian: You know what I like? Color changing cups. Like when you drink, Charlie loses his clothes. I would like that kind of thing. Or pens, where when you go like this (tilts pen), Huber loses his clothes.

Toby: Like Hypercolors?

Brian: Yeah, Hypercolors would be excellent, but when you touch it, it's the same color. Or when you touch it, it falls apart. I would like that kind of stuff. I like weird stuff. Or the Revenger-it's like, "Fuck you! Fuck you!" Not even from the movie, but it would say Big Helium Dog on it. Snoogans hats.

Kevin: That's not yours.

Vincent: It would just be Charlie saying, "Snoogans".

Toby: Anything to say in closing?

Brian: No.

Toby: Okay.

Bill: It's a closing. Be happy.

Brian: Yeah, you watch The Simpsons.

Interviews Askew