At the premiere of his debut horror/thriller Creep, director and star Patrick Brice took to the stage to put some A's to some Q's and give some context for his found-footage creeper. But Brice's film;s greatest accomplishment lies in the performance eeked from Mark Duplass. He's magnetic, unpredictable and an absolute joy to watch. From our review,
"No matter how valiant his intentions sound on paper, Joseph (Duplass) is an unreliable character from the get go. From his startling first appearance to the unsavory wolf mask, ironically called Peach Fuzz, he keeps stuffed in his closet, he's a hard guy to get a read on. But that's half the fun. Throttling between waxing on his own mortality and jumping from behind a doorway to startle Patrick (and by extension us), one thing is for certain: Joseph's a weird dude. He's always quick on his toes to offer some soundbite explanation for his abnormal actions but his backstory is about as reliable and consistent as Heath Ledger's Joker."
Revealing his long standing friendship with co-star Duplass, Brice talked stalker behavior, the colloborative nature of Creep and how he went from an artsy filmmaker to directing a found footage horror movie. Read on to hear all he had to say.
How did you get Mark involved in the film?
Patrick Brice: Mark Duplass and I are close friends. I just graduated from Cal Arts film school in 2011. He was kind of mentoring me and trying to figure out what the next project would be. We’d talked about working together on something. This project came out of those conversations. He just said, “Why don’t we go do something together?” So we went up to a cabin in the woods for five days and filmed an initial cut of this movie and ended up showing it to friends, doing some test screenings with filmmaker buddies – kind of refining it and toning it into the film that it is now. Eventually Jason Blum, from Blumhouse, watched the film, liked it, and agreed to kind of help us make it a little darker.
When you were writing it, was it tempting to turn it more into comedy and change the ending? Or did you know that you wanted it like this?
PB: We had no idea. There was like seven different versions of that ending. And I’m sorry I’m totally low blood sugar today. I’ve only eaten tacos for a meal. I can't (EDITED FOR SPOILERS). I’m having an existential crisis. There was sort of a weird test, because we knew we wanted it to be funny and Mark’s insanely funny and gifted with improv. Jason saw it and was like, “You guys, this is teetering on the edge. Let’s bring this a little more into the realm of darkness.” It’s kind of a weird balance but hopefully it will work for some people.
Your movie reminds me of someone I know. I’m not even kidding.
PB: Mark and I, we love weird people and we love people that you can’t really get a serious beat on. We also are both the type of dudes who end up being friends with those people. This was kind of our exploration into that.
His behavior was kind of textbook stalker. How much research did you do on stalking behaviors and stuff like that?
PB: I didn’t do research whatsoever. One discussion we did have was talking about people we’ve known in our lives who are like pathological liars – just thinking about traits of those type of people and trying to express that.
I find it thrilling, because it’s clearly so stripped down and just like you have a great idea and a great story. You made it happen. I would love to hear what you shot on. Was it literally you and Mark? Did you have a small crew?
PB: We had a small crew and actually one of them is here, Chris Donlon, our editor. This guy’s a story genius and we wouldn’t have been able to do what we did, without him. We shot it on one of these Panasonic cameras that compresses to a small card. It was a great exercise for me. Coming out of film school, I was like, “I’m going to make very defined, formal films.” This was just like throwing that all by the wayside and saying, “Let’s just go run completely on instinct, and forget about aesthetic as much as we can and just try to make something that’s compelling and focused on characters.”
Were you holding the camera the whole time?
PB: Yeah. It was either me or Mark holding the camera the entire time.
How much of this do you guys do in tandem? Did you direct each other?
PB: Yeah. The film was a collaboration. When Mark was on screen, I was directing him and when I was on screen, he was directing me. Neither of us had any ego with that sort of thing. A lot of these takes were initially six or seven minute takes that have been cut up. So we would just run each take. We didn’t have a script. We had a ten page outline, we were just improvising all the dialogue, so we would run one of these takes, watch it, figure out camera placement and what we should say when, go back and do it over and over again. Because it was just a small group of us, we could do that.
Were you developing the characters as you went along?
PB: I had never acted before, so I was relying on Mark in terms of what was working and what was not. It’s super hard to be objective when you’re directing yourself. We kind of went scene by scene. It was a story we develop, in reaction to whatever nuances happened in the last thing we shot. We shot it all in continuity. But we still have that outline that was like, “This needs to happen within these parameters.”
All the paintings of the wolves, who did those?
PB: My best friend since I was 11 years old, his mom did all those. She just paints multiples of those wolves. That’s like what she does. I was so happy I got to include them. That’s something we used to always make fun of his mom about when we were kids. Now it’s like, “Jason, can I get like 50 of those paintings?”
I love how the end opens up all these side possibilities of what happens before and what happens after. One of the things I’m wondering about Mark Duplass’s character is: when you were developing a backstory for him, does he have a similar approach to all his victims? Does he take them all to the heart springs? Is this something you talked about at all?
PB: No. Not really. I think there’s a world of possibilities there. I don’t think he’s done this before. In my mind I like to think that he has something special for each person. Or maybe he doesn’t (SPOILER) everybody. Maybe it takes a special someone, to want to (SPOILER) them.
How did the concept for the movie come about?
PB: At first this movie was like a relationship movie, I guess. We weren’t necessarily thinking that it was going to go as far as it did, in terms of evil. We wanted it to be a balance between the two of us. I do think there’s something wrong with Aaron. Don’t do that.