What started out as a fake trailer starring Aaron Paul Y Olivia Wilde where they explored parts of the singer’s life Al Yankovica specialist in making parodies of famous songs, soon gained more and more strength thanks to the singer showing the trailer between his concerts, making his fans ask for more.
Years later, Yankovic contacted the director of said trailer again -the singer appears in the false preview- and they arranged to take that little sketch of funny or die to a feature film that mocked the cliché of musical biopics and incidentally tell a story that is not entirely true and has a lot, but a lot, fantasy, action sequences, madonna And till Pablo Escobar.
We talked to the director Eric Apple who, among other things, explains to us how it was possible for them to shoot the film in less than twenty days and even achieve an action sequence in just four hours.
Spoiler Time: When was the first time you heard a ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic song?
Eric Apple: I think I was four when my mom showed it to me on MTV. And she loved me from a very young age. I loved these absurd images, perhaps more than I understood her words. The song that I liked the most was Smells Like Nirvana, I was like 12 years old, and I was a big Nirvana, like all the kids, and the funny thing was that when the song came on, you thought it was the real song, that’s the best part and it takes you by surprise, which is more or less what we tried to do with our film. Like when you watch it it feels like a real biopic, and it starts to get crazy.
ST: But first it was a trailer, right?
EA: Yes, it was a trailer. Because all biopics tend to mythologize someone who’s been dead for 20 years and they’re not always that accurate with the facts. I thought it would be fun to make a fake biopic trailer about someone who was still alive where you could easily check the facts just by asking them and make it all a completely made up story. That’s how the idea of doing it about Weird Al now came about. It seemed convenient to me to get Al’s approval to do it and his answer was “I want to collaborate with you”. I worked on it and ten years later he emailed me saying, “Have you thought about making this into a real movie?” He showed the trailer during a show and people would come up asking how they could see that movie and saying it wasn’t real. So I was very interested in doing it.
ST: How much time did you spend creating this script?
EA: We spent a lot of time with a draft that was like twenty pages long, that was the whole movie. Once we got to writing the script, the way we broke it down was we took the draft and broke it up into parts, each one was five to seven pages long. So I wrote the first one and sent it to Al, and then he would revise it, rewrite it, and send it back to me. So, we got to have like twenty drafts of the script because we kept rewriting everything and you added the new part, but that made you think about something else. Once we get to the final draft, we go through it three or four times and you know what’s in there is what’s going to be very close to being the movie. It is a first draft in quotes.
ST: How complicated was it to make a feature film where humor could well lend itself to something smaller?
EA: That was the biggest challenge, as when filming we had to make some of the jokes dumber and bigger. We tried to make everything feel very earthy and emotional in an exaggerated reality, the idea was to play with these absurd concepts. That was the biggest challenge for everyone and the question as to whether the public was going to respond to it, and the response has been incredible. Sure it works, people like it, but we tried to thread the needle, we wanted the emotional beats to fit, we wanted it to be a unique story and not feel like a parody of something specific.
ST: What did you think when you found out you only had 18 days to film?
EA: Well, we wanted 22 and then it was 20 and then 18. In the first week that we started to prepare we realized how much time we had and that it was quite a challenge. Fortunately, all the actors were prepared, especially Daniel. He learned to play the accordion enough to be able to simulate it. We did fight choreography. We had dance choreography a couple of weeks before while we were getting ready. I had to think about the editing before I started shooting the cameras, to know every shot I had to do and what I needed. You usually go with a million other options, which is why post production takes so long because you wonder which shot you should use. Now, the post-production was fast because we had little time and we had the scene and it was just a matter of cutting and putting them together.
ST: Tell me about the fight sequence that takes place inside a restaurant, is it true that you only had four hours?
EA: Four hours… although we wanted a little more. It should have been six. The place where we were shooting in Burbank, they didn’t allow shooting past a certain hour, and we thought we could get away with it and the police told us to pick up. And that was very complicated.
ST: Any other that was complicated to do?
EA: There were a couple, for example the one with the concert was shot the same day that he broke up with his band, we spent about eleven hours doing that. But the one that worried the most was the pool party, for many reasons. One of them is because the whole cast was there, with a lot of cameos and I had a lot to juggle. The other was because the weather wasn’t helping, there had to be people swimming by now and it was the coldest day of the year in Los Angeles. Every time we said “cut off”, everyone got under the heaters. It was cold and windy and it was supposed to rain. They were extremely difficult, but it ended up being one of my favorite scenes in the movie.
ST: While you were writing the script, did you have Daniel in mind for the lead or someone else?
EA: We didn’t really have anyone in mind, we were just creating our own unique, dramatized version of Al. It wasn’t until after we finished the script that we started talking about actors and Daniel was above everyone. Obviously, we have a lot of love for Harry Potter, but all the decisions he’s made after that have been amazing, like Swiss Army Man, Guns Akimbo. We thought it would be the perfect balance and that he would achieve what we were looking for because he would play the dramatic scenes without pushing the comedy as much.
ST: Lastly, what is the place in comedy right now in an age where superhero movies are dominating?
EA: Yes, it’s funny. But he is safe and we are talking about it. It’s interesting to see how comedies are emerging from strange places, as is the case with Everything Everywhere All at Once. I’m not saying that my movie will save comedy, but the response so far has been incredible. I never expected people to say that this is the funniest movie I’ve seen all year, although that’s the best I could hope for. This ignites a spark for others’ movies to be greenlit, and to see a resurgence of action movies that also have fun, light-hearted, and above all funny dialogue.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is an exclusive release and the first original film The Roku Channelwhich can be seen from this friday november 4 free of charge for all users who have a device roku.