Posted on Thursday, May 2nd, 2013 by Peter Sciretta
On June 13th 2012 I visited the set of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg‘s This is The End. After the jump you will find a list 35 things I learned while visiting the set, including how the project was put together and the many similarities and differences between the real life Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, and the versions of they play in the film.
Even though the whole story takes place in Los Angeles California, the film was shot entirely in the other LA – New Orleans, Louisiana.
The movie was shot at a studio which has been converted from a big warehouse building that use to store coffee beans. They built James Franco’s house in the center of the warehouse.
The movie shot for 50 days. I visited the set on day 35.
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have been writing partners since the early 2000′s. Their first big gig was writing on Da Ali G Show. Superbad was their first produced feature film. This is The End marks their directorial debut.
The movie started as a fun short film titled Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse. The short was created because their friend Jason Stone was graduating from USC and needed a calling card film. The idea for the short film was how could we do the biggest giant movie for the cheapest possible budget. Evan came up with the Concept for the short film, and it turned out so great that they immediately began to discuss turning it into a movie.
The movie took nearly six years to actually happen because a lot of actors’s schedules needed to lineup for it to happen.
Danny McBride was surprised that a studio wanted to make the movie, saying the script was “insane” and unlike anything he’s ever read before.
Even though its a comedy the movie is “insanely violent,” says Danny McBride. A lot of celebrities die grizzly deaths, some have their faces and arms ripped out.
Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse was the first title of the feature adaptation, which has since gone through a series of changes. When we were on set the movie had a working title of “The Apocalypse”, but that was eventually changed to “This is The End” because Fox owned the previous title.
The first drafts of the screenplay had most of the characters being assholes, but they ended up rounding them out through the years of development of the movie.
The screenplay is written pretty loosely, giving the rules of the scene, but doesn’t give real dialogue. Most of the dialogue is improv’d on the set.
The story is set at James Franco‘s house warming party at a house that Franco designed and built himself. A large portion of the movie is set inside the house, but you do see some of what is going on outside .
All of the big actors in the movie play “heightened versions of” themselves, playing a bit into the celebrity of their public personas.
They rebuilt part of Melrose ave in New Orleans. It was cheaper to reconstruct Melrose in a parking lot in New Orleans than it would be to shoot on Melrose in Los Angeles.
Most of the scenes are shot with two cameras.
Seth Rogen calls action, even when he’s acting in a scene. At the end of takes Seth appears in, he’ll call over to Evan (who is sitting behind the monitors) to see of they “got it” before calling cut. Evan will sometimes suggest lines to go over again. Evan will also suggest new lines sometimes in the middle of a take, reminiscent of how Judd Apatow does on his movies. Seth will also offer suggestions during a take, they just keep rolling. (for example, Seth tells Danny “Danny, say Fuck noooo” and Danny goes with it in the middle of a take). It almost feels like an improv exercise.
Every take is very different with a lot of improv. The actors play off each other, finding out what works and what doesn’t, and they eventually re-record a take with all of the A material.
They shot a ton of footage, much more than they’d ever need, with the plan to play around with the edit and extensively cut to test audience responses (ala Apatow).
Everyone is playing a more grotesque version of themselves except Seth Rogen. “I don’t know how that happened,” jokes Danny McBride. Jay Baruchel describes it as being like Curb your enthusiasm in that they play versions of themselves.
Danny McBride plays a version of himself who is always in disbelief, but then later starts freaking out and making a lot of bad choices.
Jay Baruchel‘s character focuses on the holier than now aspect of his personality.
Danny McBride claims Jonah Hill’s character is probably the nicest of the bunch.
Jonah Hill‘s character is that he always sees the sympathy in every situation.
Jonah went to dinner with an actor the day before shooting and the actor had a big stud earring on which inspired him to ask that his character have one.
Craig Robinson claims he isn’t as whiney as his character. He would like to think he’s more “just bring it mother fucker”. Craig says that Danny is probably the most like his real self, and that Jonah is probably the least like his real life self.
Seth and Even told James Franco that he’s playing the version of himself that is the most distant from who he actually is. There are aspects like being an actor and liking art that the character shares with himself but pushed to extremely funny levels. Franco says his character is a bit more shallow than he is in real life.
The film version of James Franco collects art. In real life, James did collect art ,but he sold a lot of it before going back to school. He used the money to live off of while not working for a few years. The production designers asked James Franco what kind of art his collection should include and he suggested Josh Smith. James did a lot of the paintings together with Smith for the film, including paintings loosely “inspired by” Pineapple Express and Freaks and Geeks. He talks about and references some of the paintings in the film. For the other paintings, they went with big contemporary artists like Richard Prince and Shepard fairy. The characters in the film rip-apart Franco’s art collection, using it to help board up the house after the apocalypse begins.
Franco doesn’t have a big house in real life, instead living in “a small apartment” in the lower east side of New York City. He says he actually doesn’t even like houses, he prefers condos.
One of the biggest differences from their real lives is that most of the friends are getting married in real life but don’t have significant others in the film.
There are references to the films they’ve done, a considerable amount of shitting on each others work.
Jay Baruchel says his wardrobe consists of “the studio approved versions” of what he would normally wear. When I was on set, Jay was wearing a Zombie vs. Shark T-shirt.
James Franco has the most costume changes because it’s his house and he has his clothes. The outfit James is wearing in the scene I saw being show was a track outfit — sweatpants and sweatshirt, a bit ridiculous looking. The real reason he’s wearing it is a set-up for later in the film so that Seth’s character can wear the outfit.
In the scene we saw, Craig Robinson was wearing a t-shirt that says “take yo panties off!!!” in big pink lettering.
The guests at James Franco’s house warming party includes (spoiler invisotext:) Rihanna.
Jay Baruchel is a huge Fangoria fan and was most excited to work with KNB Effects on this film.
Seth Rogen convinces Jay to go to the party. In the film, Jay doesn’t like Seth’s LA friends.
James Franco’s character has a gun in the movie, a revolver from the movie Flyboys.