Jesse Ray Boehm: So I opened up a copy of the Hollywood Reporter today and what do I
see on page five? A big score for the Lynch Man: you sold your
Muppets script to Jim Henson Pictures. So what's up, Brian, can you talk
about the project? What does it feel like to be the new man on the
Brian Lynch: I can't go into massive detail about the project, just that this is one
of my biggest dreams come true (if it gets made, that is) and I'm
Jesse Ray Boehm: When did you write the script and why did you write the script?
Brian Lynch: I wrote the script in two weekends last year. I had the idea in my
head, and whenever I tried writing something else, I always wanted to
try my hand at the next muppet movie (originally called WHEN MUPPETS
ATTACK! by the way...but I changed it before sending it out, as the
Muppets don't attack anyone in the movie), so I wrote it to get it out of
my system. Easiest and most fun I had as a writer. I've watched those
characters for twenty years, so it was a blast. Didn't think anyone
would ever see it. Wrote it for myself, really.
Jesse RayBoehm: Congratulations to you, is there anything you would like to say on
behalf of this project and your other projects. Words to the wise?
Brian Lynch: Just want to reiterate what an honor it is that the people at Henson
liked my script.
And as for other projects...soon, hopefully, soon...
Jesse Ray Boehm: Where did you grow up?
Brian Lynch:Born in Neptune, New Jersey...but spent the early years in Carmel, Indiana before moving back to New Jersey. Why'd we move back? I can't answer that; not that I won't, I just can't understand it...Just in time for first grade.
Jesse Ray Boehm: Who are your film influences?
Brian Lynch:Monty Python, Zucker Brothers, anything Muppets. Actually I think the kind of humor I try and write in my scripts is most influenced by certain television shows...endless viewings of Letterman, Saturday Night Live-- even the badyears...I remember the Anthony Michael Hall year with fondness, for Christ's sake! The Simpsons, Muppets--God, does that sound retarded! Kids in the Hall. The free-form structure of BIG HELIUM DOG was most inspired by--ready for this?--Sesame Street. God as my witness. Sad but true.
Jesse Ray Boehm: Sesame Street? I'm afraid I can't let that one go. What's the deal?
Brian Lynch:I watched Sesame Street for like five years. Nothing but Sesame Street. It's very inspirational. If I see it on now, I'll watch it. What do you want, when Vin was watching Dario Argento films at age five, I watched Jim Henson. Still think THE MUPPET MOVIE was one of the best movies in our nation's history. And if you disagree, I'll kill you where you stand.
Seriously, Big Helium Dog is completely structured like Sesame Street. See, Henson knew kids had short attention spans so his shows consist of quick jokes patched together, jumping all over the place before kids get bored. BHD is the exact same way. I blame Henson for my short attention span, by the way. When I realized school didn't teach the same way as Sesame Street, I immediately became bored. Seriously. If my third grade teacher would have simply said "A is for APPLE" and then immediately launched into a new topic with a hand puppet or something, I would have done better in school. I also think Sesame Street creating short attention spans is directly responsible for MTV's success, but that's a story for another time.
You can see Muppet inspiration in all my scripts; EVERYBODY'S DEAD, for instance, features an appearance by a fun-loving zombie cat. Another script, called LONG STORY SHORT, contains a supporting character who happens to be an eight foot tall pink gorilla. And in MILLER MINOGUE, the title character carries around a stuffed duck. I liked the surreality of it. Two people talking is fine. A person talking to a stuffed dog who talk back? That's more fun to watch.
Jesse Ray Boehm: Now I know that you used to make your own films on VHS back in the day. Could you share with us what the films were about? And how much did these films affect your first feature film BIG HELIUM DOG?
Brian Lynch:In high school, I worked on a movie (with Vin, actually) called BAY O' WULF, which, in its thirty minute span, featured parodies of just about everything, from TWIN PEAKS to BACK TO THE FUTURE. In college, more parody movies, the first being THEY CAME FROM URANUS: forty minutes, tons of parodies,dragging everyone I knew in for a part. I followed that up with THEY CAME FROM URANUS 2: ALIENZ N THE HOOD--hour and a half of more of the same. Next came the original version of BIG HELIUM DOG, which was forty minutes long but still pretty much the same stuff; actually, the only thing different from the new BHD and my high school/college movies is better acting and a bigger budget. They're pretty damn similar, sadly. After that was DIABOLICAL! and my first jaunt into horror, EVERYBODY'S DEAD. I rewrote EVERYBODY'S DEAD recently and it's currently gathering up some interest. So that's pretty darn cool.
Jesse Ray Boehm: Have you considered re-issuing any of your old video shorts?
Brian Lynch:Nah. Shot on video. Edited on two VCRs. Not a good move.
Jesse RayBoehm: So then you are planning to remake EVERYBODY'S DEAD. Will this be your next film?
Brian Lynch:Well, I never finished the original "ED" so this won't be a remake...but the script I shot (or at least tried to shoot) in college was an extremely primitive version of the script now. If I tried to get the first one made, I'd have to kick my own ass outta the industry. Will it be my next film? Possibly. LONG STORY SHORT and MILLER MINOGUE are also being considered, so who knows at this point. BIG HELIUM DOG is my primary concern right now.
I just finished a rewrite for Fox Searchlight on a project called FAG HAG. They seemed to like it, looks like that one's going to get made. I won't direct it, but I DID GET PAID. And that's what it's all about: selling out.
Jesse RayBoehm: What exactly is FAG HAG about and how did you come across this job?
Brian Lynch:FAG HAG is based on a book by Robert Rodi about a young woman who's in love with her best friend...sadly, a gay man. She goes out of her way each time he has a new boyfriend to destroy the relationship, until one day the object of her affection gets a boyfriend who's as possessive and crazy as she is. They square off in a madcap comic misadventure.
Did I just say "madcap comic misadventure"? Dear Lord.
I got the job through a comedy scout at Fox Searchlight who thought I might be good to do a rewrite on the first draft, by a guy named Matt Miller. He did a great job with the structure of the script,they just wanted me to flesh out the characters and punch up the comedy. Going well so far.
Jesse Ray Boehm: When did you decide to make your own feature film?
Brian Lynch:I always wanted to be a writer and/or director, Kevin read my script and gave it the go-ahead.
Jesse Ray Boehm: Can you share with usthe financing issues you faced shooting Big Helium Dog?
Brian Lynch:The biggest problem was that I wrote a movie that would oh-so benefit from a larger budget, what with seventy speaking parts and endless locations...it's loose-structured sketch comedy, so the damn thing jumps all over the joint...and we had to do it for about fifty thousand in less than twenty days. Everything had to be planned (the whole thing was story boarded, even simple dialog scenes) and I had about a month of rehearsals with the immense cast beforehand. That helped.
Jesse Ray Boehm: Now, if Kevin Smith didn't give you the go-ahead on Big Helium Dog, would you have pursued financial support somewhere else, or would have you just rewritten the script?
Brian Lynch:I would have made it work for Kevin. If he only had problems with certain scenes but liked the movie as a whole, we'd probably work through it together and flesh out a movie we'd both like. He's great about that, working with me to make the scene funnier.
Jesse RayBoehm: Now you had a pretty large ensemble cast for your first film. How was it directing Kevin Smith? Word around the View Askew Message Board is that Gary Dell'Abate (of the Howard Stern Show) plays a very meaningful role in your film, could you tell us a little about that?
Brian Lynch:Kevin Smith plain-and-simple steals whatever scenes he's in. He was a joy to direct...he and I would go over the scene for a while and play around with it, adding some stuff, scaling back a bit. The result was a high-energy performance that surprises everyone who watches it.
As for Bababooey...I cannot confirm nor deny anything at this point. Sorry.
Jesse Ray Boehm: Are you thinking about going with such a large ensemble on your next project or do you think you will be toning it down from the BIG HELIUM DOG structure?
Brian Lynch:Well, all three scripts that I want to do feature pretty large casts. EVERYBODY'S DEAD is about a fraternity versus a legion of zombies, and that's got like six or seven main characters. LONG STORY SHORT is a kinda Monty Python-take on relationships and that follows about five or six people (but has an immense cast of supporting characters)...MILLER MINOGUE is about an agoraphobic who leaves his house for the first time in thirteen years only to run afoul of the Jewish Mafia...that too is pretty stocked with characters. I like to give people lots to look at. If they get bored of one character, there'll be a new one along to try out seconds later. And it keeps me interested as a writer/director.
Jesse Ray Boehm: As a writer, do you find it easier to write a script with many, many different roles? If yes, why?
Brian Lynch:Yes. Definitely. Many characters means I won't get bored at any time during the writing, and the audience always gets plenty to see when they watch it. Look at DAZED AND CONFUSED, or MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL...things keep moving because there are so many people to keep up with. Only problem is when I'm in the home stretch, last twenty pages, I have to tie up all the characters' plot lines. That's when it gets a little messy. And that's also why most of my scripts are too damn long.
Jesse RayBoehm: When can we expect to see BIG HELIUM DOG?
Brian Lynch:Not a clue. Post-production is moving slowly but surely. We have a cut of it, but I think I want to jump in with further edits. I want the movie to cook more--keep the frantic pace from beginning to end.
Jesse Ray Boehm: You also worked with your old high school friend Vincent Pereira, director of A BETTER PLACE. What was that like?
Brian Lynch:It was a trip. Vin is a film Zen Master. If Hitler created the master race of filmmakers, the result would be Vin. I was honored that he asked me to work on it and have a part in it, and I think the end result blows away most of the big budget crap that's out there. Except for BASEKETBALL, which even Vin would admit is the reason film was invented.
A BETTER PLACE was a stressful set. Hottest summer in New Jersey's history, humidity that could kill a man, plus some personality conflicts made for high blood pressure. But that's why Vin's such a pro. When I watch the film now I forget I was behind the scenes, all the problems that occurred, and just get involved with what's on the screen. When somebody gives him a proper Hollywood budget, people will be quaking in their pussyshoes at the end of the movie.
Jesse RayBoehm: Was A BETTER PLACE your first real acting job?
Brian Lynch:Yep. It was also my last real acting job. In CHASING AMY, you can see me next to Joey Adams on the minority panel, but that didn't require any real acting. I'm in BHD for all of twenty seconds, and I don't say anything (wanted to concentrate on directing). However, Vin's next movie features a return of my character from his first movie, and if we do EVERYBODY'S DEAD fo' cheap, I'll have a prominent part in it.
Jesse Ray Boehm: What was that like andwhat did you think of yourself on the big screen?
Brian Lynch:It was a kick. Vin was fun directing actors, he gave me lots o' room to improvise. And as for watching myself, well, the first time was at the Hamptons Film Festival, and I got so nervous I was in the bathroom during my first scene. Had to ask Vin and my girlfriend how it was received. What can I say, I have a nervous stomach and a face that doesn't belong on the big screen. Until EVERYBODY'S DEAD, which is a horror movie so people are expecting to be scared.
Jesse Ray Boehm: What is the approximate running time to-date of BIG HELIUM DOG?
Brian Lynch:About ninety minutes, though I think it would benefit from shaving a couple more off (gotta keep the pace frantic).
Jesse Ray Boehm: Was BHD shot on 16mm?
Brian Lynch:Yes, sir. Parts were shot with a special 3-D camera that--wait--that was JAWS 3. Sorry.
Jesse Ray Boehm: What type of camera was used?
Brian Lynch:The kind...that shoots, shoots the...picture, and...Hell, I don't know, Vin's the technical whiz, bother him.
Vincent Periera:The camera was an Arri-SR1, and the sound was recorded on Nagra. I can't recall what lenses were used. We edited on film, on a 16mm Steenbeck.
Jesse Ray Boehm: Which equipment did you enjoy the most? Or hate?
Brian Lynch:Smoke machines rocked. I don't think anything sucked, although on A BETTER PLACE the squibs were annoying.
Jesse Ray Boehm: You want to tell everyone what a squib is?
Brian Lynch:It's a small packet of fake blood that explodes from someone's chest/arm/back/leg/wherever it's supposed to look like someone got shot. Had to trigger one on BETTER PLACE, ruined the shot when I didn't do it correctly. Gonna have to deal with LOTS o' them when and if we make EVERYBODY'S DEAD.
Jesse RayBoehm: What is the hardest part about post-production?
Brian Lynch:Hands down, hardest thing about post is the waiting.
See, to get to the next level during post, we had to get Kevin's okay on everything. Finish the editing, have to wait untilhe approves of the edit before we transfer it for sound mix. If hewanted more changes, had to make them--the ones we both agreed on, he was very trusting as an exec producer. And then wait for Kev to watch it before we can advance. The sound mix had to be approved before we sent it out to festivals, etc. It was, hands down the busiest time in Kevin's life when we had to get his approval (knee-deep in Dogma production) and I had to take a train out to Pittsburgh to have him watch a shitty VHS copy in his hotel room during the few off-hours he had shooting. The plus side is he let me stay with him in the hotel room (didn't sleep together though, damn...maybe for the sequel) and he took me around the DOGMA set.
Also, taking an ax to scenes you like is kinda difficult. Keep in mind I wrote and rewrote that damn thing for three years and was attached to the words, so getting rid of certain things is like lopping off a finger.
Jesse Ray Boehm: If there is footage that you had to cut from BHD, will we see that missing footage on say a DVD special edition in the future?
Brian Lynch:Hopefully. Or, twenty years from now we'll see the BIG HELIUM DOG special edition with all new special effects.
Jesse Ray Boehm: Where did you come up with the name BIG HELIUM DOG?
Brian Lynch:Well, in the context of the film it doesn't mean a damn thing, but I heard it on the first day of my current cinema class in college...one of the students asked the teacher, Mr. James Irwin (a great man, by the way) what he thought of John Hughes' movies. He replied that he liked the earlier ones, but his more recent efforts have "bit the big helium dog"...name kinda stuck with me.
Jesse Ray Boehm: So what were your thoughts when you hit the Dogma set for the first time? Was this the largest production you have been on the set for? What were the major differences between a film of DOGMA's scale compared to the other indy films you have been around? And don't say hookers & drugs.
Brian Lynch:I'd say hookers and drugs - Oops, wait. Big budget movies were a lot of people doing one job, as opposed to one person doing nineteen jobs. See? Just dumbed down the entire process for you.
Jesse Ray Boehm: Would you prefer to go the Non-Askew route on your next film, to quicken the production pace?
Brian Lynch:Well, I don't know if VA will have me back for the next one anyway. And it wasn't they that held things up, but the low low low low low budget. They've been as supportive as humanly possible, though, and I doubt I'll have such a positive production experience again. Hope so, though.
The entire experience was a dream. I mean, I was directing a bunch of my friends, the assistant director was one of my best friends, the locations and prop guys were close friends/frat brothers...my exec producers were good friends, the female lead became my girlfriend during rehearsals. Even people we met during production contributed to the overall "Hey guys, wouldn't it be fun to make a movie" feel.
Day in and day out, it was an experience that was too good to be true. I'd go over the shots with the DP and Vinnie, make sure the actors were ready and try and stifle laughter during the takes. At the end of each day, the producer, Rich Perello, who stayed at my house ,talked with me about the shoot, and then I'd go upstairs and unwind with the lead actress, Lorene, and we'd have this incredible day that we just shared together to talk about. I'd fall asleep exhausted and get to wakeup and do it all over again.
If I could, I'd make movies like this for the rest of my life, but nobody has it that good.
Except for Spielberg.
No, wait...he made HOOK, he can't have it all that perfect.
Okay, I've babbled enough. Thanks for listening.