'Extra Ordinary' Directors And Cast On Bringing Their Sweet And Strange Supernatural Comedy To Life [Interview]

Extra Ordinary, a blend of low-key supernatural chills and offbeat Irish comedy, is one of the sweetest and funniest movies of the year.

/Film was able to sit down with writer/directors Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman and cast members Will Forte, Maeve Higgins, Barry Ward, and Claudia O'Doherty to discuss the film, which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival last year and is finally getting its theatrical release this weekend. We discussed the origins of the film, what other movies inspired it, and yes, we even took a diversion into MacGruber.

Extra Ordinary has a nice mix of comedy and the supernatural. What led to writing the film?Enda Loughman: Well, I guess we were really interested in a tiny haunting. We did a lot of Googling and stuff. We're watching a lot of clips online where you see just the chair falling over or something like that. We like the idea that ghosts weren't these big demons that you see in most horror movies. We started laughing at the idea of just tiny ghosts. That sort of what the inkling of the story was. We also like the idea of ghost hunters. We read this article about two ghost hunters who had a day job just working in a credit union and the other guy was a truck driver. At night, they would go out and do ghost hunting. We thought that it was really funny to kind of explore what their normal life would be like—their ordinary life. I guess that sort of was the foundation of where the idea started goingMike Ahern: Hilarity ensued.What films served as influences?Mike Ahern: There's a bunch. I think everything we've ever seen sort of.Enda Loughman: Made it in there.Mike Ahern: We had so many—Will Forte: Prizzi's Honor.Mike Ahern: Ms. Doubtfire.Enda Loughman: Slender in the Grass, in particular.Mike Ahern: The movies we're watching loads before, we love Raising Arizona and we just loved how kind of it's sort of crazy like a live-action cartoon but also has lots of heart and you really care about the characters in there but it has loads of stupid jokes.Enda Loughman: I think there's Simpsons stuff in there as well.Mike Ahern: Those kind of movies and then obviously the horror stuff that we reference a little bit in the movie like Ghostbusters and Evil Dead 2. But we weren't really watching horror as much before we made it.Enda Loughman: It was definitely more about being funny than being horror.What was the most challenging part of making the film?Enda Loughman: Dealing with Maeve.Maeve Higgins: Fuck you. (Laughs)Enda Loughman: See, we just clash.Claudia O'Doherty: He's been really stressed.Mike Ahern: The whole thing—we had a lot to do. So ambitious. I guess the time it took to shoot because you know there's lots of a big set pieces it and everything. It's a low budget movie so we were really, really pushed for time a lot of the time so I guess that was the hardest part.Enda Loughman: I was joking. The cast were just amazing and we just had so much fun making it so it didn't feel too hard at all.Maeve Higgins: Didn't you say one day when we were filming that Mike said this feels like a race?Enda Loughman: Yeah.Maeve Higgins: Trying to get everything done.Enda Loughman: Yeah, that's exactly what it was like. Yeah.Maeve Higgins: There was no spare day or anything.Enda Loughman: There was no spare second.Mike Ahern: The most ordered sentence was that doing post.Will Forte: Even though that was definitely I remember hearing several times, "I don't know if we can do it today" but it was never in a super stressed out way. You never felt rushed except for that very last day.Mike Ahern: We ran of time every day pretty much so you think actually we could have used another week but if we did it for another week, I don't know if it would be different.Enda Loughman: We're really happy with how it turned out.Will Forte: Did you at end of the day go, "Oh, we can just try to get that tomorrow?"Mike Ahern: Yeah, that happened every day. (Laughs) That's why the days is as it went on got way harder.Enda Loughman: We had one day that was probably the worst day of my life but other than that—Will Forte: What day was that?Enda Loughman: I think the last day at the castle.Mike Ahern: There were a lot of sets to visit.Enda Loughman: We did it about three days in a day. Three days worth of filming.Mike Ahern: I remember we had until 6 PM but at 3 PM, we just like, our list is about this long and I was like, I'm going to start crying. But I'd forgotten it all nowEnda Loughman: Until Charles reminded us that you don't remember trauma.What was it about the script that attracted you to the project?Claudia O'Doherty: I love that my character's name was Claudia. (Laughs) I wouldn't have to remember much and that was what helped me make my decision about taking the part but no, I loved the script and I knew that they were so good—geniuses so I was so excited to be in their movie. It was pretty sweet working with Maeve.Maeve Higgins: It was. We were on board from the beginning.Claudia O'Doherty: It was so boring. (Laughs)Maeve Higgins: They were always saying like, Claudia and Maeve, Claudia and Maeve—so I do think it was not very voluntary. It was just like we were always involved.Enda Loughman: We kind of bullied them into doing it. We just told them they're in it and they didn't believe it would ever get made. They're like, "Yeah, of course, we do it!"  And then eventually happened and they had to do it because we were talking about it for so long. The one thing about you guys together was that when we got to Ireland, I think we only realized then that there was no scene with both of you and this.Mike Ahern: They've been friends for years so we actually wrote the bit where you drive up to the castle and see Claudia just say you're in the same scene at the same time.Will Forte: I have to jump on to what Claudia was saying. The script is just so good. Not that I'm getting scripts all the time but when I do get a script to read, it's usually the same old shit. This was just so different and so specific—some of these jokes. I got really excited when I heard that the people who wrote that script that I fell in love with were also directing it. I knew that they'd be able to give me life to all these little moments that I love so much—just these teeny little things. I think you could watch this movie ten times and still be discovering a new little teeny things each time. It's really great so I suggest people watch it ten times. (Laughs)Enda Loughman: Put that on the postcard!Claudia O'Doherty: Preferably in the cinema where it costs more.So what do you want to see in scripts?Will Forte: Oh my God. We were even talking about it today. If you watch the teaser trailer, there is this little thing at the very beginning of it. They're talking about different things that can be haunted. It starts with you know pens, pen caps, and the third thing is a gravel. Little things like that are all over the script. The gravel is so dumb.Enda Loughman: No, it's actually the singular word.Will Forte: I didn't know that. It's a funny adventure that's also educationalWill, can you give us an update on the MacGruber series?Will Forte: We don't know. We're still waiting to hear. We pitched it a couple of weeks ago. We're trying to to see if we can blend MacGruber and Extra Ordinary together. The MacGruber Haunting and Prizzi's Honor. No, we're seeing if somebody will let us do it but we're crossing our fingers because we're all pretty excited about it.Enda Loughman: How many seasons have you done?Will Forte: Zero. It was a movie that we did. Actually, we premiered here at SXSW nine years ago so we're trying to do a TV version.Through your time with the Groundlings and later on SNL, what was the most valuable piece of advice that you received?Will Forte: Two things. Number one, somebody at the Groundlings—I can't even remember who it was—but I would get super nervous and they'd say just right before you go out on stage just find a place to muffle your face and yell fuck it. It really helps. It's kind of like the both because you're spending all this energy and also you're telling your brain to remember to just not care as much.

Lorne gave me good advice about just getting out of my head. I would be pretty committed to things that I would write myself but if other people wrote things, I'd be nervous. As a writer before I became an actor, I would always be remembering times when I would write stuff and people would maybe do them differently than I thought. When I was acting somebody else's thing, in my head I'd be going, Oh they're disappointed with the way I'm doing it right now. It just messes with your mind. So he just said, Own it no matter if you're write or not and that was the other piece of advice. Back then—ten years ago—they said there's going to be a movie called Extra Ordinary. These guys are going to approach you about it. Make sure you say yes to it!

Claudia O'Doherty: That was Lorne?Will Forte: Yeah. He's got supernatural powers.Can you imagine being on SNL during this administration?Will Forte: Oh my God. There is some fodder.Claudia O'Doherty: They're doing a good job.Will Forte: They are! We thought we had it good with the Bush years.I couldn't help but notice in the credits that you thanked Dog Eggs You Found On The Beach and Billionaire Space Pricks?  Can you expand on this?

(At this point, the room starts roaring with laughter)

Enda Loughman: You don't believe you're the world's biggest nerd—that you actually read the credits.Barry Ward: What do the credits say?Enda Loughman: I'm delighted you read that. I was so happy you read that. We thanked two groups that helped get this film made. Basically, the Billionaire Space Pricks were a band we were in called Warlords of Pez and it's basically ten of our friends from art school who had this band for a long time. I think a lot of the humor and stuff in the movie comes out of the gang of friends and weird artists and musicians and stuff. The composer of the film is one of them.Will Forte: Were they called the Billionaire Space Pricks?Enda Loughman: We were called the Warlords of Pez but we were the Billionaire Space Pricks. We're from a different planet. We're pretty rich. We're zillionaires. Dog Eggs You Found On The Beach is the current incarnation of that. It's a group.Mike Ahern: It's an email thread basically.Enda Loughman: It's the name of our e-mail thread that's been going for about 8-9 years.Mike Ahern: I'd say there's over 30,000 e-mails at least. 50,000.Enda Loughman: It's basically just like a place to send jokes to your friends but not gross toxic mens group jokes just really stupid jokes like gravel.I'm reading the credits and I'm like, are they actually thanking rich people?Mike Ahern: I wish we had a billionaire to thank for it because we would have had a lot more money. Maybe next movie.