Images by Sophie Caby
Editor: Holly Grigg-Spall
“I feel like all cinema is being presented with a set of problems.
Each director solves them in his individual way.
You’re still answering questions while you’re making the film.”
— Patrick Brice
Born and raised in Grass Valley, California, Patrick Brice is a writer and director who gained traction with his 2011 documentary short Maurice. His first feature film, Creep, which he also starred in alongside Mark Duplass, was released in 2014. Brice’s most recent film, The Overnight, premiered at Sundance 2015, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize.
Born in Paris, Judith Godrèche is an actor who has been a presence in French cinema since her first role at age 13 in L’Éte prochain. She is known internationally for a huge array of films, including L’auberge espagnole, The Disenchanted, The Man in the Iron Mask, and Ridicule.
A comedy written & directed by Patrick Brice and produced by Mark Duplass, The Overnight stars Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godrèche. The film centers on family “playdate” between two couples and their children, which devolves into an absurd and hilarious escapade as the night grows later.
A director, producer, actor and screenwriter, Mark Duplass is known for The League, The Lazarus Effect and The One I Love. He and his brother, Jay Duplass, make and support many films through their production company, Duplass Brothers Productions, including The Puffy Chair, Skeleton Twins and Safety Not Guaranteed.
Starring Judith Godrèche alongside Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling and Jason Schwartzman, The Overnight is writer-director Patrick Brice’s second feature film. Godrèche was enlisted with the help of the film’s producer, Mark Duplass, who also starred in, co-wrote and produced Brice’s 2014 feature debut, Creep. Premiering at Sundance 2015, The Overnight came away with a nomination for the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize. The film, set in the Silver Lake neighborhood of LA, is a comedic escapade between two married couples on what began as an innocent parent-child sleepover planned in the local park, and escalates into a nearly erotic all-nighter.
Brice and Godrèche sit down and discuss filming The Overnight in just 11 days, writing a script about sex that never happens and their preferred directorial styles.
Judith Godrèche: You don’t have kids, right?
Patrick Brice: No, not yet.
JG: But you’re married.
JG: You wrote two scenes in the film in which kids walk in on adults having sex. Do you have a fear that this is going to happen when you have a child? Because this is not your experience, right?
PB: Right. This is the psychoanalyst in you coming out! I mean, obviously it’s what kids do in the movie, and so maybe it is projecting the future a little bit. Also, it was a way to break the tension.
JG: But it also has do with this theme [in the film]—when something is about to happen between adults, there is a young person who just puts an end to it.
PB: Right, and this is just the most blatant version of that happening. It’s funny because it actually speaks to another facet of the movie, which is that it’s a movie about sex but no one… cums.
JG: Yeah, exactly.
PB: It’s kind of inevitable that it ends up in this middle space. As a parent, was there anything in the film that you responded to when you first read this script? Did this seem like a foreign version of parenting to you, or maybe a particularly American version?
JG: Well, I really loved the idea that there’s a magical dad who comes up with a way of putting kids to sleep because my kids would just never go to bed! It took them a long time to fall asleep. So, I found this idea that a guy would play piano or create ambience with lights kind of amazing. I also think it’s great—the implication of dads in the film. It’s not the mom putting the kids to bed. It’s the dad, Jason [Schwartzman].
“It’s a movie about sex
but no one… cums.”
— Patrick Brice
PB: Post-feminist daddy-duty. Did you used to play music for your kids before you put them to bed?
JG: No. I sung, but mostly I told stories—forever and ever until I had no more ideas because I would invent them. I would invent a character, and every night I had to come up with another story for this character. I told stories from my childhood a lot, but then I would run out.
When I read the script, I had no idea who you were. It was sent to me by Mark Duplass, who I knew. I knew his work and his taste for tasty things and his talent for discovering other talents. So when I read the script, I was trying to imagine who could have written it! And when I met you, for some reason it seemed completely natural that it was you.
But also, do you realize that you are a very quiet, more cerebral person? You are more reserved. You’re not a goofy guy—or is that because I’ve never seen you drunk? Do you feel people are surprised that this is your movie? Have you met anyone after they’ve seen your movie, and they’re like, “Oh, you directed this?” Because the film is funny and crazy, and you don’t come off as a crazy person.
PB: No, and it’s funny that you say that because I’ve become more self-conscious about how I talk about the movie, especially now since it’s come out. I know that I tend to go to more of the serious, self-analytical places. My favorite part about film school was the theory. I loved talking about the meaning of cinema, and related to a movie like this, that seems very left field. When you first read this script and were responding to the funny stuff, what did you expect?
JG: I expected this person to be kind of like Mark. I mean, not exactly Mark but someone who wasn’t going to be either goofy or heavy because I didn’t think the script was goofy or heavy. But it was still crazy in a way. The script has its own wildness. And it’s also so well-written that I knew the person was going to be someone classy. You come across as someone very reserved and very serious.
PB: Well, I think I was also nervous when I met you! You were the first actress I’d ever met with about a project. So that experience was me not wanting to seem like an idiot, obviously. Those kinds of meetings feel like a blind date, you know? You put on a version of yourself, and I always tend to go with the more serious version of myself.
JG: When you started writing for film did you feel that you could write any kind of movie? Or is there a sort of film that you would never write and would never come to you at all?
PB: I don’t know. The tone and what we were dealing with in this movie came so naturally to me. It really flowed out of me in a way that didn’t feel like work. I’ve tried to write darker stuff before, and it’s not like it felt disingenuous or anything, but it wasn’t the best version of myself. Whereas one of the things I’m so excited about with this movie is how writing it was a really natural process. It was a natural process making it, editing it, and now coming out into the world. None of it has felt forced. So, I’m going to try to trust in that for whatever the next project is going to be. Whenever I feel like I am forcing myself, that’s when I need to take a step back and just listen to my instincts.
JG: I’ve seen three movies you directed. One from film school, then Creep, and then this one. I can say easily that you have a style. Do you relate? When you see your own films, do you see this?
PB: Yes. I’m a cinephile—I love to follow a director’s work and see how they’ve changed, grown, digressed or whatever throughout their career. When I look at one of my films, all I do is remember what I was going through at the time that I made it. It’s not something where I can take a step back and say, “Oh I’m going to make a movie about this, and this is the theme it’s going to deal with.” It’s more like, “These are the problems I was solving at that time as a filmmaker.” I’m just going to continue with that—that’s the plan. So far, I’ve really been able to follow my bliss, and that’s just what I’m going to continue to do.
JG: I know you love music. How does it feel when you own a whole movie and have to decide, “How much music do I use?” Do you have to control yourself?
“The script has its own wildness.
And it’s also so well-written
that I knew the writer
was going to be someone classy.”
— Judith Godrèche
PB: Absolutely. It’s almost like there’s too much opportunity. That’s something, especially with this movie, that I was super conscious of. Like, “I picked this song, and it seems to work, but there are millions of other possible songs that could exist here. The perfect song could be out there somewhere.” And so it becomes this decision of having to reconcile how much the song costs, whether it works for the movie, what makes the most sense… I’m happy with the sort of middle area where we ended up. The music in the movie isn’t necessarily music that I would normally gravitate towards, but it makes sense with the style of the movie.
JG: There is a 70s feeling to the music, right?
A native of Los Angeles, Julian Wass is a film composer known for The Pretty One, Brother’s Justice and Hit and Run as well as the Duplass Brothers’ Do-Deca-Pentathalon and The Overnight. Wass is additionally a member and producer of the LA band Fol Chen.
PB: Yeah, there’s a 70s electronic feeling with the synthesizer. That was a case where I knew that Julian [Wass] was going to be doing music for the movie, and Julian really loves 70s and 80s synth music. So I knew if I gave him the instructions to make something along those lines, that’s an area where he can excel.
That’s something I was really excited about with this movie, especially coming from a directing point of view. Each person who was involved—whether the actors or the crew members—it was just a matter of empowering them to be the best at what they do… And me just sort of making sure everyone was feeling okay during the process. That style of directing is instinctually where I go. You’ve worked with many more directors, so I’m sure you’ve seen different versions of that.
JG: Yeah, I have to say, being an actress keeps me in a child position that I adore because it’s a part of my life where suddenly I can actually be kind of taken care of in a way, you know? I think it’s very relaxing.
PB: It’s a relationship
A South Korean film writer, director and producer, Chan-wook Park is best known for his Vengeance Trilogy (2002-2005): Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, as well as Thirst.
JG: Yes. It’s very interesting for me because every director I worked with has his own process. Like, I have worked with a director who calls all the actors while he’s looking for where he’s going to put his camera. I remember that happening when I was 15 shooting a movie and being like, “Oh my God, it’s taking forever!” Because I was like, “What is the shot?” It was the director’s thing. He had to be looking for the shot because the shot wasn’t evident.
I’ve also worked with directors like Park Chan-wook where it’s all storyboarded—there’s not even a discussion.
PB: It’s precise.
JG: Yes: you stand there, you say that at this moment, and here is the shot. It’s not covered at all. Everything is almost edited already. It’s storyboarded to where you know there’s a close up when you’re saying that. It’s interesting because sometimes, as an actress, you want to be covered, but it’s also super exciting to be part of someone’s brain because it’s so fucking nice to be a tool. Because you’re just a tool. You can sleep on it.
PB: It’s a relief!
JG: It’s a relief! That’s the word I was looking for.
What I was so impressed with doing The Overnight was that… I’ve done small films—never in 11 days—but films where we had five weeks to shoot in like 30 locations, which fucks up the entire schedule. So compares with The Overnight because obviously if you have 30 locations, you have no time. Yet, what I liked about The Overnight is I didn’t feel the pressure of time. That’s pretty impressive for a young director like you.
A producer and writer known for Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Andy Milonakis Show, Naomi Scott and her husband, actor Adam Scott, have produced The Overnight and The Greatest Event in Television History through their company Gettin’ Rad Productions.
PB: Well, because I felt the pressure the entire time! (laughs) That’s good! I knew it wouldn’t help matters to put that on you guys either. We didn’t have a First AD [Assistant Director] on the movie, so it was Naomi [Scott] essentially who was gauging time. To have Naomi monitoring that – while still being as creatively invested as I was – was really important because any time we had to do an extra take on something or didn’t catch something, we had to go longer. There was a trust there.
I feel like our movie was that situation you are talking about where we were asking more of you. We were asking for a real collaboration. That’s the only way I know how to work. It came from making a movie like Creep, which was just Mark [Duplass] and I, no crew. So for me, it’s just a given that we’re all in this together. I don’t feel or need there to be a hierarchy in the situation. We’ll see if that’s the case if I’m ever directing a studio movie!
“When I watch one of my films,
all I can do is remember what I was
going through at the time I made it.”
— Patrick Brice
JG: How would you feel being in a situation where there are lots of intermediaries? Like, “The actor doesn’t want to do it like that,” or, “That’s not the right profile.” I’m coming up with clichés! But you know, things like, “The producer thinks that this is nicer,” or, “Don’t forget to film the watch, because we’re getting money from that watch company…” Do you feel like your cinema has to be spontaneous, and that’s the way you need things to be?
PB: Well, I feel like all cinema is being presented with a set of problems. Each director solves them in his individual way. I think going into a film and knowing that these problems are a given—even if everything goes right—you’re still answering questions while you’re making the film.
I know that it’s going to be stressful. I know that there’s going to be issues with time. I know that there are so many factors involved that need to line up in order for something to work. Going in and not having any illusions about that is really helpful for me because if things go great, then I’m happy. My expectations going into it are that this is going to be a lot of work.
I’ve had the benefit of making an extremely small movie, to making a slightly bigger movie, to hopefully the next one being a little bigger than that. So far, I’ve been able to take on all the problems that come—personally. I internalize them. When you’re making a movie like this, there’s really no one else to blame but yourself. So it’s about getting over that and moving forward.
JG: You’re also an actor. You played in Creep. What if you had to be Jason in this movie? Would you have gone for it?
PB: (laughs) No! It would be the scariest thing in the world! I guess, if I had to!