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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Talking Creepiness With Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice of Creep

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2015 at 11:30 AM

click to enlarge Josef (Mark Duplass) knows that a wolf mask makes any situation that much creepier. - COURTESY OF BRIGADE MARKETING
  • Courtesy of Brigade Marketing
  • Josef (Mark Duplass) knows that a wolf mask makes any situation that much creepier.

Anyone who's regularly used Craigslist to meet prospective roommates, buy a sofa, or book outcall massage, can boast at least one odd encounter with a stranger. But probably none as creepy as struggling filmmaker Aaron (Patrick Brice)'s face to face with Josef (Mark Duplass). Josef hires Aaron to document his day-to-day at a remote cabin in the woods, but nothing is what it initially seems. If you want the whole gruesome story, horror movie Creep comes out today on Netflix.

SF Weekly chatted with the film's writer-stars Mark Duplass (Safety Not Guaranteed, The One I Love, The Lazarus Effect) and Patrick Brice (The Overnight) about their true-life Craigslist encounters, how they met offline and why creepy storylines are so much fun.

Any creepy Craigslist encounters to share?

Mark Duplass: I did have one experience when I was living in New York City, where I went to buy a loft bed from a gentleman who was living in deep Queens. I noticed right away that he had some awkward sense of personal space and was very, very close to me. Within a half hour, he was telling some very personal stories about himself and beginning to cry. I began to feel excited that you could get this close to someone after meeting them for a half hour. Actually, I got really scared that if I stayed too long, something bad would happen to me. I love that dynamic, so that feeling is part of the movie, for sure.

Patrick Brice: There wasn't any specific occurrence for me. It's just mainly every single time that I've ever had to interact with anyone that I've met through Craigslist, whether it be selling a coffee maker or going and looking at a '98 Subaru Outback, it's always an interaction that both parties are trying to get done with as quickly as possible. And there's this inherent awkwardness in being thrust together when there's no other reason for either of you to be there. You're kind of beholden to each other in that interaction. I just thought there was an interesting tension to be found in that. 

Thankfully you two met offline through a friend.

MD: Yeah, a mutual friend of ours put us together. She's a producer friend of mine. Patrick just moved to Los Angeles with his now-wife, then-girlfriend, and she was our nanny for a little while. Patrick and I became friends because we share a lot of similar sensibilities. And from there, we started talking about how we might make a movie together and talked about Patrick's love of documentaries and how good he is at interviewing people, and we thought, 'What if that scenario went totally wrong?' That's kind of how Creep was born.

You came up with the story in late 2011 and filmed in early 2012. Why did it take three and a half years to release the film?

MD: It started as an arts and crafts project that was not very results-oriented. We thought it was a 50 percent chance that no one would see what we were trying to make, but we wanted to go into something with a loose outline and see if we could build it as we went. 

You had a very small crew of three with the addition of editor/co-producer Chris Donlon. What were the greatest challenges you faced?

MD: Well, it can certainly be a boring film when you only have two people in it and one of them is onscreen most of the time. So we were certainly aware that we could be boring people to tears. Otherwise, it's very liberating for us to do things we want on the fly and not have a big crew of 50 people to communicate with. It means when you have an idea, you can film it instantly, because there are only two people moving. So when you're traveling light like that, I see it as a positive. 

There was initially talk of this film getting theatrical distribution, but it's become a straight to iTunes and Netflix release. Does that matter?

MD: There were a lot of different conversations about how this film could come out. There was a minute where we thought this might be a 3,000-screen Universal/Blumhouse movie like The Purge. But there's a certain thing you have to do for a movie to do that. It has to satisfy four quadrants of audience members and it can't be as specific and rough-hewn as Creep ultimately is. And so we made a choice with the movie that we wanted it to be raw and vital and strange. And when you do that, you don't want to spend $20 million marketing that movie on 3,000 screens, because it's just going to lose money. And so, in our opinion, the way we're releasing it, is a perfect way to make the movie exactly the way we wanted to make it, still get paid for it and have a company with extreme muscle behind it like Netflix, which arguably has a lot more muscle than a Universal 3,000-screen release when they're doing a day and date worldwide release. This was a way that we could have our cake and eat it, too.

Patrick, you've said that between Creep and the creepiness of The Overnight's humor, a certain creepiness permeates your projects. Mark, between The One I Love and The Lazarus Effect, you're definitely at home in Creepland. Why makes creepy so appealing?

PB: I think it comes from what I think is funny and what I'm interested in, where I'm able to find tension when it comes to making something. Both of these films, if you give into them as a viewer, they can just be incredibly entertaining and rewarding. I know that people have a lot of options in terms of what to watch these days, and I don't like my time being wasted as a viewer. So when I see something, I usually appreciate when it's a tightly concocted piece of filmmaking and something where I feel I'm being taken on a ride for 80 minutes. So it was fun to, in the process of making Creep, learn how to do that, and then in a film like The Overnight get to apply all that stuff. 

MD: And as for me, I'm just a creep, so I like creepy stuff.

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Joshua Rotter


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