The Vacationeers' new film is called It's A Disaster, but it refers only to the fact that there is an actual disaster in the movie. Neither the film itself nor The Vacationeers are a disaster; in fact, they're a hilarious comedic film group that will have you laughing so hard you just might cry...as happened to me when I watched their recent San Diego Comic-Con panel.
Naturally, I had to sit down with these fine gentlemen - from left above, Todd Berger, Jeff Grace, Kevin M. Brennan and Blaise Miller - to find out what makes them so funny and why they wanted to make a flick about potential armageddon.
"As a kid, I was the youngest of three so I've never seen most of the Disney movies. Instead, Gremlins and Clue and [Indiana Jones and the] Temple of Doom were the movies I saw when I was five. Those inspired me because I'm like 'This is what movies should be. They should be entertaining but they should also say something,'" explained Berger, who wrote and directed the flick as well as played the character of Hal. All four Vacationeers have major roles in the movie, with Grace as Shane, Brennan as Buck, and Miller as Pete, and all four actors are uproariously funny. To say any more would be spoiling the fun.
The idea for It's A Disaster came to Berger after seeing an article about another film. "I was reading an article about Night of the Living Dead, and they forgot to renew the copyright, so it's public domain. I was like, 'We should take Night of the Living Dead, save money by just using all of their shots of zombies, and then re-do all the scenes inside the house and make it a comedy.' It'd be couples night in the 1960's. And then I realized how difficult that would be to fake," he conceded. "But at that point I fell in love with this idea of [having] a bunch of friends get together, and that classic disaster movie style - a bunch of people trapped together but let's make it funny."
Once he'd written the script, Berger and his colleagues were able to secure a first-rate cast, including Julia Stiles, America Ferrera, David Cross, Rachel Boston and Erinn Hayes. (Read my interview with Erinn Hayes on It's A Disaster.) According to Berger, Stiles was essential in casting.
"We knew Julia Stiles from a few years ago, through a friend of a friend. We shot a viral video with her," he explained. "We sent [the script] to her and she's like, 'I'll do it.' She said, 'Throw my name around.' She threw out America Ferrera, and [America] suggested David Cross. We were fans of Rachel and Erinn.
"I think it's not to be understated, Julia Stiles getting involved in this project and her saying, 'You guys can use my name however you want to get this project made.' Without her, this project does not take the shape that it does. I don't think we get America and David. She's really an instrumental player," he said, adding that "All the actors came on board out of a passion for the project."
So who are these guys and why are they so darned funny? Well, let me tell you.