By Mark Saldana
My first interview of the festival was with writer/director Jason Headley and actors Matt Jones and Eleanore Pienta of the film A Bad Idea Gone Wrong. The movie depicts a poorly conceived burglary that goes completely awry when the burglars Marlon (Jones) and Leo (Will Rogers) get themselves locked in the house they’ve targeted. They also unexpectedly discover that the house is not unoccupied. The home has a “housesitter” named Darcy (Pienta) who further complicates their dilemma. The result is a rather amusing comedy with fun and interesting characters who use the experience to do some self-reflection.
I had the pleasure of sitting with Headley, Jones and Pienta to discuss the process of making a low-budget independent comedy in Fort Worth, Texas and how their time and budget limitations both helped and hindered the filmmaking process.
Mark: (To Jason) This movie has a very 90s “slacker” feel to it. When I say “slacker,” I am not referring to the Linklater film specifically, but movies like Clerks and Reality Bites. What inspired you to make a “slackeresque” movie?
Jason Headley: For me it wasn’t really about “slackers.” They’re a little lost. That sort of concept.
Matt Jones: Which I think what slackers are.
Jason: The core concept was always about people being trapped in their own lives, trapped in the same house. That whole idea of being stuck is something we all feel as human beings. I wanted to write about those kinds of people who are kind of stuck and are thinking of ways to get unstuck.
Mark: (To Jason) With which character do you share the most personal connection?
Jason: A little of bit of everybody. When I write characters, I try to think about how I can put parts of myself in those characters. That’s what makes them real to me.
Mark: Talk about the house used in the film. It thought it was lovely and very appropriate as a setting.
Jason: We just found it in Fort Worth. We just needed a house that was a certain size where we could move to different rooms. The owner’s name is Shannon. It was her house and we actually had to shoot while she was living there.
Mark: How long was the shoot there?
Jason: We were in the house for fifteen days and the total shoot was seventeen days.
Mark: Matt, you and will had such a great rapport and chemistry together and quite credibly portrayed best friends. Had you known each other prior to the making of the movie? Did you spend any time together before shooting?
Matt: We had never met until the night we started shooting. The night before we read through the script with Jason and that was it.
Mark: Wow! That’s definitely says a lot about your’s and Will’s acting talents. Eleanore, please talk about the development of your character and the relationship that she forms with the burglars.
Eleanore: It was kind of funny to think what that experience would feel like, because pretty early on, she realizes these guys are harmless and stupid. Early on, though, she finds them relatable.
Mark: Jason, what really inspires your work as a filmmaker?
Jason: Overall, I am not a film person who likes film as a craft. I am a story person. I like the way stories make me feel. The movies that I love are the ones when I get to the end, I have this feeling inside of me that I can carry around for a little while.
Mark: Indie films often have their share of obstacles and hurdles to overcome. What were some of the challenges of making this movie?
Jason: Timing and budget. We did not have many days, not very much money, so we had no pre-production. That was tricky. We had this four-way trust-fall into each other’s arms in that I am going to trust that you know what you’re doing and they had to do likewise with me.
And that trust turned out to work very well. Last night at the SXSW Jury Awards, A Bad Idea Gone Wrong won a special Jury recognition award for the best ensemble. This is certainly a well deserved award. The film has one more scheduled screening tonight (March 15), 6:00 p.m. at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar.