Your new movie The
Badger Game - in a few words, what is it about?
is about kidnap, extortion, torture, sexual
perversions etc. in a few words. It's also about loyalty, and where does
one's loyalty lie when certain lines are crossed.
were your sources of inspiration for writing The
Badger Game? And what can you tell us about the writing process
between the two of you?
TOM: Inspiration varied, and
changed throughout the writing process. Initially, we looked at gritty,
haphazard-caper films, in which the characters plan a crime but don’t
think everything through. Movies like Blood Simple and The
Silent Partner came to mind while we were writing it. As the script evolved, though, we
became less focused on the plot and more focused on the characters. Who
are these people? What motivates them? Is the audience always aware of
their true motivations? The goal then became to create real,
three-dimensional people, each of whom has a complex agenda, not aligned
with good or evil.
How would you describe your
directorial approach to your story at hand - and what was your on-set
JOSH: The directorial approach was to be as prepared as possible,
which meant controlling what we could beforehand. Having table reads
helped us know where the actors' heads were with the story and helped us
get on the same page. Arguing and confusion during production will only
slow you down. The same with our D.P. Zac Adams. We were usually
aligned on what the look of the film would be. I would cater more to the
actors on set and Tom would take care of the overall functioning of the
TOM: It was an equal split, for the most part – though I tend to
focus more on minutia and logistics. That’s just how my brain works.
We both settled into our roles naturally, with one picking up the slack
when the other was preoccupied with other details.
Badger Game features its fair share of violence - so what can you
tell us about the gruesome scenes in your movie, and was there ever a line
you refused to cross?
JOSH: We have a few key sfx
shots in the movie that took quite a while to get right, but are only
visible on screen for a second or two. Still, it was a lot of fun
designing them with the help of our sfx team Josh and Sierra Russel, and
we basically let them tell us the way to use and film their effects for
the best results. As far as lines being crossed, our kidnapped actor (Sam
Boxleitner), was pretty abused with his approval, but I felt bad. He got
the whole second week off of work to heal, though, so in that way he won
Despite all the nastiness, I also
found quite a bit of humour in The
Badger Game - would you agree at all, and if so, what can you tell
us about your movie's brand of comedy?
JOSH: Yeah, it's part of the ride and something I like to see in a
movie. We didn't want to take ourselves too seriously and want the
audience to know that it's ok to laugh (at certain parts) and be shocked
at others and not really know what to expect. No rules. We're both
influenced by the Coen Brothers and even in their darkest films there is
still plenty to laugh at. People have actually laughed more than I
thought they would, but at different things. There's a point in the
movie where people tend to just be comfortable with knowing they can
laugh if they want to.
TOM: I think a lot of the humor comes when the audience feels
awkward or uncomfortable. It’s a deliberately mismatched bunch of
characters, and it’s fun to see them squirm and try to navigate this
downward spiral. I think some of the best movies – whether they’re
comedies or not – solicit laughs as you become more familiar with
them. That was always in the back of our mind.
What can you tell
us about your cast, and why exactly these people?
JOSH: Our cast is awesome! We knew all of the girls (Augie Duke,
Sasha Higgins, and Jillian Leigh) from previous films. Tom and I
actually worked with Sasha on another film, Dark Fields. We still had
them audition and read together to see how their personalities would
gel. I must admit we didn't quite know which girl was going to play
which role in the beginning of the process. The guys (Sam Boxleitner and
Patrick Cronen) we met on an open casting call in Hollywood. Tom and I
seemed to feel the same way about every actor who read, good or bad, and
that made our agreeing who we liked come pretty easily.
TOM: Riffing on what Josh said, we saw a lot of great talent –
LA doesn’t have a shortage of phenomenal actors. But chemistry and
contrast was so important among the five principles, that we felt we had
to get the combination right. The one thing that I found very
interesting is that – across the board – we cast talent that brought
something unique to the character, something Josh and I didn’t see
when we wrote the script. They surprised us and added a quirky
film is limited to very few locations - so in what ways was that a
challenge and an advantage, and what can you tell us about your locations
JOSH: Yes, we had to limit it to few locations, hence the genesis
of the story, but in doing so we still shot at more locations than we
had planned to. The house in the movie along with the garage where Liam
is tied up, and the back yard, front yard and road leading up to it is
really like five locations. The whole first week though we were only in
the garage, which is my girlfriend Kim Snow's (location manager and
production manager), and that made it easy because after we were done
shooting I would just go to bed and wake up and go shoot. The second and
third week were more challenging because we fell behind and needed and
extra day and had to deal with finding exterior locations at the last
TOM: The interiors of the house belonged to RJ Gallentine and Leesa
Gallentine, who have a great decorating sense. When you’re doing a
low-budget film, you want the locations to stand out – and I think the
house is unique and eccentric, and a character on to itself.
Do talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set
JOSH: The on-set atmosphere was, in my opinion, pretty smooth
compared to some other sets I've been a part of. We kept everyone fed,
warm, and happy except a few whinny crew members, but you're always
going to get those people who thrive on stirring up drama instead of
thrive on doing their jobs. There's some people that think sets have to
be like that, but not if I can help it. I like a happy, healthy,
communicative set. We had a few onset romances as well, including our
brother and sister duo (Patrick Cronen, and Augie Duke). But there's
nothing like the end of a shoot day, I gotta say.
TOM: It was intense and difficult, in that we had a truncated schedule
and it was imperative that everyone do their job efficiently. We –
literally – couldn’t afford any delays, in that we didn’t have the
budget for error. That said, the cast and crew really rose to the
challenge and knocked it out of the park. Our actors, especially, had to
go to some dark, emotional places – both mentally and physically. And
we didn’t have the luxury of time on our side. I know how difficult
that is to do, and how taxing it can be, and I’ll be forever grateful
for their endurance and professionalism.
A few words about audience and critical
reception so far?
JOSH: Our audience and critcal
reception so far is overwhelmingly positive; I mentioned earlier how the
audince seemed to find a lot of humor in the movie. They even cringed and
gasped at the violent scenes. There's nothing like watching that kind of
reaction to a packed house. As far as the reviews go, these are people who
are watching it alone and still generating the same response. All I can
say is keep them coming. We're both waiting for those negative reviews
though, because you can't please everyone, but so far I think people were
expecting it to be amateur, considering the miniscule budget. But we're
getting a lot of “Wow, it felt like I was watching a real movie.”
TOM: Agreed – the thing I love most is that the humor is shining
through. This wasn’t a slapstick, toilet comedy. So the jokes aren’t
obvious. It makes me feel proud that we were able to retain the subtlety
of the script but still make people laugh.
Any future projects you'd like to
JOSH: Yes, there are quite a few. Tom and I have a script that
we've been collaborating on for many years that we finally both agree on
and we're looking to produce that next. Not sure if we'll both direct
that or not. I have a few scripts that have been optioned and waiting to
be greenlit, and a documentary about a former Gong Show winner who wants
to be a host of his late night talk show called Gong, But Not
Forgotten: The Original Johnny Blaze Story that've I just finished.
TOM: Josh and I actually have two projects we’re collaborating
on – one in the microbudget vein of The
Badger Game, and another a bit
more ambitious in terms of scope. I have a true-crime mini-series that
I’m shopping around to several networks, and another script entering
its third draft. Hollywood can be fickle, so it’s always good to have
a lot of things going.
How did the two of you first meet even, and what
can you tell us about your filmwork with one another prior to The
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
JOSH: Tom and I both met at The
Motion Picture Institute in Michigan and bonded over our love for movies
and The Grateful Dead. We've both worked on each other's projects since
then including my first feature and his first feature: The Sweepers and
Nevermore (featuring Judd Nelson), respectively. This is our first full on
Your/your movie's website,
Facebook, whatever else?
The website is
Also, we will be on I-tunes and Google Pay in June and Amazon
shortly after that, followed by DVD/Bluray release in the fall.