Will Speck and Josh Gordon
OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY
“Office Christmas Party” has an all-star cast that will let you escape the holiday stresses, make you laugh, and maybe feel a little guilty for laughing at the raunchiness. But the main thing is that it’s FUN! I had the absolute pleasure to sit down and talk with Josh Gordon and Will Speck who directed and collaborated in the writing of this high-energy, quick-witted holiday party like no other. WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
Here’s what they had to say:
PP(Pamela Powell): Don’t judge me yet…but I have to tell you that I wasn’t looking forward to this movie. I thought it was going to be one of those typical compilation of big names and you’ll never see them interact and it wasn’t! I had so much fun!
WS (Will Speck): OH GOOD! TELL YOUR FRIENDS. It’s actually a strange one because when we tested it, it was young men 18-24 and women over 35 which is a very interesting and weird spread, and very hard to market to.
JG (Josh Gordon): But I think the movie has heart which appeals to people, surprises people.
WS: And we tried to make them real people that have real relationships. I think that’s what people like about the movie is that it’s not just a bunch of jokes strung together.
PP: It was funny! And silly!
JG: I’m glad your night wasn’t as terrible as you thought it was going to be!
PP: Absolutely not! In last night’s Q&A, you said that this movie idea was yours. Since you pitched this movie, you must have collaboration with the writing even though you are credited solely as the directors. How much collaboration was there?
WS: There’s a lot…I think in this case, we had a very firm idea about what kind of movie we wanted this to be and feel like. I think the thing that was challenging was finding a story in it. So we went a couple rounds with different writers to try to shape how much plot versus how much character…we didn’t just want it to be… all about plot… like we have to find a microchip at the party,
JG: and suddenly that takes over the story. We wanted the party to be the engine and so you have to have a very light plot line that always forces the story front and center, the party front and center. It was a process.
WS: We collaborated at each stage with each writer; there were a few of them. We feel like we ended up with a good balance between character and plot…There’s something where they have to save the company, there’s a way that they do it, but it’s light enough that it creates a framework for all those characters to have each of their moments.
PP: I loved that the gender roles were reversed! Jennifer Anniston is the powerhouse, Olivia Munn is the brilliant tech, and then Kate McKinnon is farting at a meeting. These are typically guy types of roles.
WS: Don’t forget the pimp Julian Bell!
PP: That’s right! She was great! Another powerhouse!
JG: We worked very hard [so] that the movie felt balanced and that we were subverting some of the expectations.
WS: One of them that was difficult was the idea of a prostitute and pimp because A, you’ve seen that a million times B, it feels like a movie contrivance, those roles, and so Josh and I came [up with] this idea that we should make her a female pimp.
JG: With anxiety issues!
WS: But I think like Josh said, we tried to balance it and subvert the expected.
JG: And I think that we also are benefitting from people offering women better roles and women proving that they are amazing and funny and can cary movies and now we were able to pick from a lot of very talented women
WS: It’s funny, we sort of forgot that because it wasn’t “agendized.” It was also just like great people for each role, but there were definitely moments where we would be in a scene and it would be Jason and 6 women and we were like, Wow! This is a totally female-centered movie.
JG: We’re being really modern!
WS: When they go out to find TJ, it’s really Jason, Olivia, Jennifer, and Kate. So he’s kind of odd man out and it’s usually the reverse of that.
PP: He’s the insecure, meek, demure person and that’s usually the female’s role.
WS: He’s got the girl role!
PP: Maybe that’s why it’s appealing to females 35 and older. Tell me about filming in Chicago as many years ago you won awards for your short films at the Chicago International Film Festival. Were you here for that?
JG: We came for that. We’ve always loved Chicago. My family’s from Chicago. My mom was born here.
WS: I’m from Cleveland, so we’re both from the Midwest.
JG: We have an affinity for the city. For us, we grew up loving the same movies and a lot of them were shot in Chicago. We loved “Risky Business,” we loved the “Blues Brothers,” we loved “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” and so there’s a character to this city, there’s a tone to the comedy of this city that really appeals to us. Even Second City is a big seminal thing for us. If you’re picking a big midwest city, where you want your underdog company to be set, Chicago is just a natural place for us and we were thrilled when the studio allowed us to shoot here because it’s slightly more expensive, but worth it cinematically because it’s such a beautiful city.
PP: What did your stars think about filming in Chicago in the winter?
WS: They were actually thrilled. I mean the thing about LA is you get really sick of sunshine and 70’s.
PP: (eye roll) Oh, please.
WS: No, for real! It’s like you guys with cold. I think for all of us we were just excited to be in a place that felt like winter. It was April when we got here so it was winter/spring, but we got lucky and had snow fall twice when we were on our exteriors.
JG: Chicago wanted us to shoot here.
WS: When we were on the set and we were shooting and it started snowing, the crew was like, this is the first time it’s snowed in a month. It was a Christmas miracle. When they’re crossing the bridge in the first act, and it’s snowing, it’s the real deal.
PP: You had talked last night about having a lot of improvisational or alternative lines that were filmed. Were any of those lines kept in the film?
WS: Yeah! A bunch of them! The Uber scene, that was written on that day. Fortune Feimster who’s an amazing talent who you’ll know a lot more about after this movie comes out because this was her very first on-screen appearance. [She] came up with stuff on the fly.
JG: A lot of Kate Mc Kinnon’s stage performance is just Kate being brilliant.
PP: Maintaining that high energy level throughout film had to have been tough. How many days did you film?
WS: We shot for 43 days…
PP: That’s a lot of energy
JG: That’s a lot of partying!
PP: You had to have been exhausted
WS: We were. We still are! It was “fast and furious!”
JG: We just finished the movie two weeks ago!
WS: It’s been a marathon.
PP: What was the most fun scene to film?
WS: There are things that you imagine in your mind… We thought Oh! What if you have an eggnog luge. We thought that would be a weird thing that we’d never seen before and we came up with that in our imagination…that was really fun to see that up on its feet.
JG: And it was great to see Jason go for it!
PP: Yes he did!
WS: The mayhem where things really fell apart where the cast had left…we had a few days in Atlanta…
JG: Jesus riding the horse…
WS: …really to wreck the set, that was really fun to do that.
JG: We really had spent a lot of time designing the set in order to destroy it was kind of fun as filmmakers.
PP: You had an amazing cast of comedians in this film. Are there any comedic actors that you haven’t worked with that you would really love to?
WS: I think Emma Stone is somebody who we love, who we’ve always wanted to work with. Chris Pratt we love…I think Meryl Streep because she’s funny and dramatic. But I think this cast and this ensemble definitely checked a bunch of boxes of people we’ve always wanted to work with who we just literally offered the role and are in the movie.
PP: How did that work? Did you have Jennifer Anniston on first and the rest just snowballed?
WS: We have relationships with Jennifer and Jason. We convinced and pushed to get TJ in the lead role.
JG: Kate signed on early.
WS: Those were our foundations and the snow just kept rolling down the hill, picking up more people as we went.
JG: People want to play when it seems like it’s going to be a fun thing.
PP: One last question. I have to plan my husband’s office christmas party. What should I do?
WS: I think you should go on line. Do you have access to internet? You should go online to either Fandango or MovieTickets.com and I think you should get them all to go to “Office Christmas Party” the movie.
JG: Because nothing puts you in the right mood more than “Office Christmas Party.”
WS: And it’s also gonna be cheaper than throwing a party with bad catering. Make sure you have music, good lighting. I think those two things are the key to any party and a little bit of danger and make sure everyone has their phones off.
PP: I need to find out where you guys ordered your ice sculpture luge!
JG: We should open up a whole service!
“Office Christmas Party” opens nationwide December 9th. While I had a lot of fun watching this film, there’s profanity, drug use, and nudity so it’s not for everyone.
And to everyone at the Oral Surgery Center, I found an ice sculpture eggnog luge! Cheers!