brian taylor interview

Did you let him and the other actors improvise on set?

The way that I’ve always been is, I want to do it the way that it’s scripted, one or two times, until I get it. Or three or four times. You know, until I get it exactly the way, and then I like to let them improv. I love improv and I usually end up using the improv. The whole hokey pokey thing was an improv. That was Nic just bringing something to the table, and it actually caused us some problems, because it’s so great, what we didn’t realize, at the time was that, hokey pokey is not a public domain song. You have to buy that song. So we ended up imposed with this moment that was obviously so cool, we couldn’t live without it. Then we found out that we had to go get the rights to it, which luckily we were able to. But, yeah the answer is, I love improv. When you have a guy like Cage, you’re really doing yourself a disservice if you don’t open yourself up to that. A lot of magic moments happen like that.

So much of your work has such a high energy to it. In the writing, shooting, and editing, what’s it like trying to get that pace and rhythm right?

It’s always hard, I don’t really know any other way to do it. I think a lot of that just comes from my own sort of ADD. You know, I get bored with things really quickly and I get things really quickly, so I assume everybody else does too. But then there are other moments that you really want them to slow down and take your time and let it land, you know. In Mom and Dad, in particular, there was a lot of … One of the things that I really love about the movie is the way that the pace fluctuates. For instance, it’ll be in the middle of just being an action sequence and then it just slam cuts you to something that’s very slow and measured, and it takes time and it’ll just slam you right back into it.

So something like that really excites me as a filmmaker. I love things where, you know, quick change of paces. I love tonal shifts. Creating tonal shifts. I love to go from straight drama to complete absurdity just with no chaser and no warning.

Like everything else in this process, it just kinda comes out of your own sort of idiosyncrasies and the way that you see your world and the kind of things that get you excited. You just hope that everybody else … Well not everybody, but you hope that enough people feel the same way and that people will enjoy it at the end of the day.

What were some of the initial reactions to the script? What sort of feedback did you get?

The initial reaction was complete horror and head scratching. My agents had no idea what to do with the script. They thought I was crazy. You know, my own kid when I told him about the movie, he was like “Dad, what the fuck is the matter with you?” So yeah, it’s one of those things where when you read the logline, it seems like it could be just so dark that no one would ever wanna watch a movie like that. But I knew that there was a fun movie in there, and it was just a question of finding people who kinda got that. Who got that humor and got the satire and could sort of see through the dark logline to what the movie would eventually be.

Luckily the actors, Nic and Selma got it right away. They really got the satire. They personalized it and they embraced it just from day one. They thought it was great. I was able to get those two on the page and then everything else kinda fell into place.

When people were scratching their heads, did you a part of you find that response encouraging? 

Yeah. Definitely ’cause the big challenges are to do something original, something that hasn’t been done before. You always feel that that’s the motivator. Often you run into a situation where you just hope this isn’t one of them where you find out really quickly why it’s never been done before. I know trying to get the movie financed, there were definitely moments where I was like, oh this is why nobody’s ever done this movie. I understand because people were just like completely terrified of it [Laughs]. On the other hand, anecdotally, whenever I told somebody about it, like a normal person, not somebody in the business, but just like a normal civilian, when I told them about it, no matter conservative they are, how religious they were or how sort of mainstream they were, universally, I would always get, “Ah shit, I would see that movie. Always wanted a film like this”.

You know, the reaction I got was always so positive and so not threatened by it. The only people that were really threatened by it were movie people. So I knew that there was something there, and I knew if we could just get the right group of people together to execute this tone in the right way that it would be a fun movie.

I think you raise a good point, too, that the business or film world sometimes can be in a bubble and not reflect what most audiences think. 

I definitely know what you mean. Yeah, you run into it a lot of times. Even like, I’m doing a television show right now [Syfy’s Happy!] and sometimes it’s amazing the things that they’ll let through, but then other things will scare them. I’m always telling them, I’m always saying, “Do you know what people are like out there? Do you know the kind of things that people are exposed to on a daily basis? This is nothing. You know the world is scary. Movies aren’t scary.”

The show doesn’t feel compromised or restrained, though. 

Yeah, wait ’til you see episode seven, that’s all I gotta say. If you feel that way now, just wait ’til you see episode seven.

[Laughs] How’s your experience been in television so far?

It’s been great. The great thing about TV is like it’s also making a new movie every week. The pace becomes so insane. Like the amount of work that goes into it, and the pace of production is so insane. We’re still in post on episodes that are gonna air in two weeks, so because of that chaos and because of that pace, you can actually get away with a lot of stuff. Because they just really don’t have time to notice. It’s just out the door. The pace makes it really difficult, but at the same time, it lets you get away with stuff. I like that.

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Mom and Dad opens in limited release and is available to rent digitally on January 19, 2018.

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