The Overnight made its debut earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival. And there was so much going on, that it was unfortunately one of the movies I missed seeing the first time around. So I’m glad the film is getting a theater release and that I got to finally see it. It’s an interesting film because it combines comedy with certain aspects of horror films’ creepy, suspicious of characters kind of feel.
Director Patrick Brice, who shows a lot of potential with this film, took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to me about The Overnight, his inspiration for writing, and how he came to start working with the Duplass brothers. You can check out the entire interview below and be sure to check out The Overnight, in theaters June 26.
Congratulations on ‘The Overnight’! And you have another film, ‘Creep’, as well coming out soon as well, right?
Thank you! Yeah, and they’re coming out the same day, which is crazy!
What were the challenges of writing ‘The Overnight’ and directing two different kinds of films?
Well, Creep was improvised, so The Overnight was my first scripted film. For me, one of the challenges was, and this may sound stupid, but during the writing process I accidentally deleted the first draft of the script when I was 70 pages into it. I didn’t save the file correctly and it was completely gone. Luckily, I was working on an outline, but still at the same time it kind of created this exercise of going back and writing again. I was really paying close attention to what needed to be in the movie and what didn’t need to be in the movie. So that was difficult [laughs]. And emotional, having to deal with that. I just really set out to make a movie that would make me laugh as much as possible, but also I wanted something that while you’re laughing, there’d be an emotional connection with the characters. As an audience member, you feel like you’re going along on this crazy journey into this night with them.
I had no idea what to expect going in. But you hit the nail on the head with the awkward dinner date situation and being new in a place where you’re unfamiliar with everyone. The film was funny, but also creepy in a way. Was that what you’d always had in mind?
Yeah, absolutely. I learned a lot from making Creep, and working with narrative tension and how to dial that in, and of ratcheting up the situation. Audiences kind of enjoy being played with in that way, you know? There’s definitely a bit of a masochistic element about being a moviegoer and liking these kinds of movies, like horror movies and horror, so I thought it’d be fun to interject moments of that in a comedy. The idea of a movie where you’re laughing but you’re also wrapped up in the plot and you’re really trying to figure out what’s gonna happen next. And it’s hopefully coming from a direction you didn’t expect.
It’s a social analysis kind of film and suspenseful in a lot of ways. Where did the inspiration come from to write this film?
It came from thinking a lot about what friends of mine are going through right now as young parents and trying to reconcile being a parent and taking care of your kids, but also having a social life and maintaining a concept of your individuality. So that was a cool jumping off point in terms of trying to find a reason why Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling’s characters are staying at the house all night despite all the weird things that are happening.
I also love and am completely understanding of the craziness that is Los Angeles and I thought it’d be a fun chance to poke fun at the city I live in. Then I wanted to make something that was contained. Because we had such a small budget, I knew that the film was primarily going to take place inside this house and involve these characters. And from moment to moment thinking, “what could keep this situation dynamic?” and trying to prevent it from feeling claustrophobic.
And because of this isolation, the film gets to explore these characters in their humanity and inadequacy and how we feel about ourselves in regards to other people, which was a nice addition to the film.
Yeah, yeah I wanted there to be this running theme of self-acceptance going through the movie. I think this feeling of inadequacy molds his [Adam Scott’s] character in a lot of ways in terms of feeling insecure and he can’t make friends because he’s insecure. And he’s also having his sexuality challenged a little bit and I just thought those things were so interesting. I also wanted to have this cathartic moment between Adam Scott and Jason Schwartzman’s characters where Schwartzman’s character does really help Adam Scott overcome this thing he’s been feeling his whole life, and actually help him through something in a real way.
I also wanted there to be a bit of ambiguity there that kept them in the house. And you want him to overcome his issue, but at the same time you’re nervous for him because you still don’t know what these people are about. So it’s just another layer to play with. And still when I watch the movie, the fact that 20 minutes into it, you realize this is the crux of the main character, and I think it’s interesting and new and I can’t think of other movies with that being the case.
Both films you’ve worked on involve the Duplass brothers [Mark and Jay Duplass] in some way. So how did you get involved in making these films together?
Mark and I were friends and he’d been helping me navigate coming out of film school. Mark Duplass saw my thesis film and really liked it a lot and we were having conversations about what the next project should be. And that’s where the idea of Creep kind of first came out of, of wanting to make a movie that had no crew and just had two actors who were also physically making the film at the same time. So that’s what we ended up doing with Creep, Mark and I writing a ten page outline and going off into the woods to make this movie together. It was a really great experience. More experience overall than being in two years of film school in terms of practical, hands-on filmmaking. And what was great was being able to take all that stuff and apply it to The Overnight, in the writing process and the production.
Do you look to continue working with him in the future?
Absolutely! I know how rare it is to find someone who’s willing to support you as a filmmaker, and someone whose sensibilities I’m so aligned with and whose sense of humor I share completely. It’s an absolute dream and I feel extremely lucky to have found those guys.
You’ve done short films in the past. What was the biggest change when it came to shooting a full-length feature film?
Any film that I made before this, or all the shorts I made before this, were either documentaries or were experimental films. The biggest difference was that I’d never made a narrative before. Even Creep was somewhat of an experiment. So that was the biggest difference. It felt like my first dramatic film and I was doing it with well-seasoned actors and a seasoned crew and a big part of it for me was acknowledging the expertise and power of each cast and crew member. And trying to shine a light on that and create a tone on set so that everyone could feel free to do their job to the best of their ability.