bill bodkin conducts a biting interview…
Wade has issues…he likes to bite women and then drink all their blood. He’s maintains the lifestyle of a loner in order to keep his vices and dark lusts hidden from the daylight of everyday society as well as allowing him to indulge said vices whenever he wants. However, when a night of feeding lands him in hot water, he flees to a small shore town to start his life over. He meets a punk rock girl, lands a job at a bowling alley and joins a self-help group in order to curb his appetites — but in the end will it all work?
The film is Two Pints Lighter, a subversive comedy is the debut feature length film from Jersey Shore native Matt Lawrence. The film, shot predominantly in Asbury Park, New Jersey will premiere at the famed Paramount Theater adjacent to Convention Hall on the Asbury Boardwalk.
Two Pints Lighter, the first feature length film from writer/director Matt Lawrence, will be playing the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park! Pop-Break recently caught up with the director to talk about the film, its amazing soundtrack and the famed city-by-the-sea
Pop-Break: Let’s start at Step 1 — when did you come up with the concept for this film and what was your inspiration to write this style of subversive horror/comedy?
Matt Lawrence: The story was developed and the screenplay was written during the winter and spring of 2010. The film was inspired by a short screenplay that a student of mine wrote at The College of New Jersey. That script was a lot sweeter, a light romantic comedy, but I liked how it didn’t get caught in the vampire lore and was about an isolated guy looking for love.
I started to develop the idea that would become the feature with said student which then led to my best friend and lead actor, Ryan Conrath, writing the draft that would be what you see on screen. A lot of the writing came down to budget and logistics (what we can afford, where we can shoot, how much time we have, etc.). That sounds boring, but it’s a harsh reality when writing a micro-budget film.
PB: From the trailer we can see our hero Wade has a bit of a “biting” problem and has a love for the drinking the blood of beautiful women. When coming up with the concept for Two Pints Lighter and even during the filming, did you ever fear you were treading on a territory that’s seen a lot of action, especially with the popularity of films like Twilight and shows like True Blood?
ML: Oh no! Does the trailer give a Twilight vibe? Don’t give me a complex! I hope the film to be anything but a vampire-centric soap opera. In reality, the film is an exploration of self-destructive behavior and a questioning of whether one can change his or her nature or if we’re doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over. And instead of subjecting the audience to a trauma fest, we try to tackle these themes in a subversive, funny and surreal way. At least, that’s the hope. I’ll let you know if the audience turns on us Saturday night.
PB: What do you feel makes Two Pints Lighter stand out as a film — basically why should people be coming out this Saturday to see the film premiere in Asbury Park?
ML: I hope, at its best, the film has a unique voice whether it be in its humor, treatment of characters, or depiction of the human experience. That’s the best you can hope for. Honestly, if I hear the audience laughing at a few points, and no food is thrown at the screen, it’s a big win for me and the people who made the film.
PB: Speaking of Asbury Park, you filmed the majority of the movie there, how much of a character is this city-by-the-sea in Two Pints Lighter?
ML: My brother and co-producer, Mike, says the film is a love letter to the city. And he’s right, Asbury Park has always been my favorite town in the Garden State, ever since I started going to punk shows in middle school. The city has so much character, in terms of aesthetics. A lot of our locations (or exteriors) didn’t require a lot of set dressing or additional carpentry, etc. They were ready to shoot and pop on the big screen. Unfortunately, some of them have been torn down since we shot (the Baronet to name one).
PB: Let’s talk about the our lead actors, Ryan Conrath and Hannah Telle. What was about these two that inspired you to cast them as your leads? And when the filming was over — did their performances surprise you in anyway?
ML: Conrath and I have been working together since the beginning of graduate school, and he’s one of my best friends. He has been in all of my narrative films since my first exercise in Film Production I at Boston University. The dude is my muse, I can’t describe it. His timing is uncanny, and he can create these really interesting, flawed characters because he’s so likeable.
For the role of Lucy, I had an open casting call in New York and Los Angeles. It just so happened that I was going to be in LA for a couple weeks and could meet actresses out there. I have a weird method though. I don’t have actors or actresses read lines or prepare a monologue, etc. I just talk to them. Prior to meeting Hannah, she had sent me her reel, and it blew me away. Usually reels are comprised of shitty student films or webisodes (barf). Hannah was doing voices in front of a mirror, rolling around in a field, etc. She had this energy that really captivated me. We met and talked for fifteen minutes, and I knew I was going to cast her.
PB: Would you say that Two Pints Lighter is more of a comedy with horror elements or a horror film with comedic elements?
ML: I always describe it as a surreal comedy. Not many frightening aspects to the film; the violence is pretty mild.
PB: Outside of our leads, what character did you love the most and which do you think audiences will connect with and why?
ML: There are so many great supporting roles or one-scene performances in the film that it’s tough for me to choose. What I did was write many of the roles specifically for a friend, family member or someone whose work I had previously seen, something tailor-made for the individual. But every performance, for the most part, completely surpassed my expectations. I think one of the stronger aspects with the film, given that it was made on a micro-budget with a cast of (mainly) non-professional actors, is the performances are so good.
Actually, my grandmother and grandfather are in it and they KILL it. My grandfather is in ONE four-second shot, and I guarantee he will get a big laugh.
PB: The soundtrack to this film is amazing — Bouncing Souls, The Menzingers, Rogue Wave, Hot Water Music and tons more. How did you get all these nationally recognized bands to sign onto the film?
ML: My brother and co-producer, Mike, is a magician. He has worked with many of the bands featured in the film and, as luck would have it, they are all incredible people who support independent arts (of any kind). In many instances, it was just as easy as reaching out and asking if they would let us use a song or two in a micro-budget feature.
PB: Talk a little about your emotions going into this weekend’s screening? How important is showing your works to a more hometown crowd at The Paramount Theater in Asbury Park?
ML: This has been almost three years in the making. It’s, by far, the longest project I have ever worked on — lots of peaks and valleys, etc. Besides myself, a lot of people have busted their asses to get this film made and out there, and many of those people did it out of the kindness of their big hearts (with not a dime to show). Mainly, this event is to thank those people and to show them (hopefully) that it was well worth it. They can see their work on screen, in a beautiful and historic theater, and then we can all have a drink (or ten) in a punk rock bowling alley afterward. The fact that we can do all of this and also donate proceeds to victims of Hurricane Sandy only sweetens the deal.
PB: Beyond this weekend’s premiere — what are your plans for the film?
ML: I have two goals for the film. One, to have a nice festival run and introduce a national audience to the film. Two, that the film will garner enough attention and (perhaps) accolades that I can make another feature. I’m ready to shoot another, like, tomorrow if I had the chance. I don’t want to be a dead shark.
The premiere of Two Pints Lighter will benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy, with proceeds being donated to The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Doors open at 7:30pm with the film to screen at 8:00pm $8 regular admission, $5 with a valid student ID. 16 & Under admitted with a parent or guardian. Afterparty at 10pm at Asbury Lanes! Dancing, drinks(21+) and lots of bowling (for the sporty types).