When the writing and directing team of Nicholas David Brandt and Lisa Hamil found out Terminator icon Linda Hamilton had agreed to do their film Bad Behavior, they were over the moon as the duo tell TMT.
The big question. Linda "Sarah Connor" Hamilton. How amazing was it to work with her on this film?
Nicholas: I'm not going to lie. My excitement nearly shifted into a panic attack when the reality of actually directing her set in, but when Linda asked if she could bring coffee to set, or if we needed anything, I knew she was a positive and grounded person and working with her was going to be a wonderful experience. o top it all off, Linda coined our co-directing name of "Nicolisa."
Lisa: I grew up wanting to be Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2. After working with her, now I just want to grow up to be Linda Hamilton. She joked with me on set that Lisa Hamilton sounded better than Lisa Hamil. So I'm considering it.
This isn't a physical role for Linda though, right? She didn't have to spend 18-hours-a-day in the gym?
Nicholas: She didn't have to, but I think she did it anyway. She's that kind of team player.
Lisa: She gives her all to every role, so believe me, had it been required, she would have. We could not have asked for more professional and supportive actors in the pivotal roles of the parents than Linda and Ted McGinley.
Lisa, you're in casting I see. I take it you cast this one? How did you settle on Hallee Hirsh?
Lisa: Scorsese just recently said "More than 90 percent of directing a picture is the right casting," though it's a saying that has also been attributed to many other great directors. It's the truth. Though I'd include casting, the cinematographer and editor in that too. In LA, casting is very much like a machine - actors in and out every ten minutes. We did things a little differently and spent a lot of time just talking and getting to know each actor before we even had them audition. We wanted to make sure they were someone we wanted to go to war with, which is what making an independent film can be. Hallee and the rest of the young cast, all stood out not only as fantastic actors, but as fantastic people. It was the greatest experience of casting a film I've ever had, because we knew we had the right actors, and we were now free to focus on the technical side of the film.
Nicholas: We settled on Hallee the same way we settled on Austin Rogers, Elsie Fisher, Andrew James Allen and Jeremy Dozier (who play Tyler, Grace, Kansas and Jack, respectively) – the actor that brought the words to life, made us forget what we'd written, and won the role. We were blessed by a phenomenal cast from top to bottom and I think that was predominantly fuelled by spending that additional time getting to know them all as people.
The movie sounds a little like a cross between Misery and the recent horror film The Purge. How close are we? What films is it alike?
Nicholas: My pitch was always Adventures in Babysitting gone horribly wrong. I grew up watching, and infatuated with, The Twilight Zone as well so that may factor into my personal creative process.
Lisa: It's Misery meets Adventures in Babysitting with a little sprinkle of the non-supernatural part of The Shining, We were also inspired by J. Blakeson's The Disappearance of Alice Creed which is a perfect minimal location film.
Does working on other people's movies - either in an assistant position, writing capacity or in casting - better equip you for working on one you direct?
Nicholas: I think the more you can know about the process, the better off you are. And it's great to watch others and see how they do it. My favourite story from my early days as a PA was when I worked on Planet of the Apes, the Tim Burton one, mind you, and saw Philippe Rousselot hold a china bulb just out of the shot to get the perfect lighting. It's not about ego, it’s about getting the shot. It was a great lesson to learn by watching a fantastic DP. I got to experience the same thing when our DP Craig Kief stood precariously with the camera on top of a garden ladder to get a shot for Bad Behavior.
Lisa: Casting has been the best directing school I could have asked for, and that's coming from someone who went to film school. Casting a film is almost like being in a romantic relationship with a director. You spend all your time together, have your inside jokes, and have phone calls deep into the night. I've worked with both male and female directors from all over the world and incorporated bits of each of their styles to form my own. You learn what works and what doesn't, without having to suffer the same mistakes.
Finally, the movie was previously titled Right Next Door. Why the change? Your choice?
Nicholas: I think I was the only one who was ever really gung ho on the title Right Next Door. Cooler heads eventually prevailed.
Lisa: Right Next Door was always a working title. Bad Behavior fits the theme of the film better, and the decision to change it was solidified after our distributor clued us in to the studies done that independent films that start with a number of the letters A through C consistently have more than double the viewing than titles that don't. It's a great tip for indie filmmakers to know, because every little thing helps on getting your film out there to the public. Now, Nick and I just have to figure out a new title for our next project, which originally started with an "H!"
Bad Behavior is on DVD October 22 from Osiris Entertainment