The Badass Interview: The Trost Bros, Filmmakers Behind SXFantastic’s THE FP
Brothers Brandon and Jason Trost made the film, and Jason stars as J-Tro. You might recognize Brandon’s name from the credits of many, many films over the past decade, as he’s done quite a bit of cinematography. But The FP represents the true vision of the Trost Bros, and it’s a really weird one.
What I really loved about your film was the commitment to the concept - you play the joke all the way to the end straight. How tough was it taking the concept from the original short and making it work as a feature?
Brandon: It wasn’t difficult to turn the short film we made into a feature because the short film itself -
Jason: Is the first ten minutes of the movie.
Brandon: It’s the first ten minutes of the script. We just made the opener of what the movie eventually would come. But as far as the commitment to the joke, that was always the gag. We wanted it to take itself so seriously that that was what became funny. Taking it way too seriously. How ridiculous is it to have life and death come down to a dancing video game.
Jason: A town full of kids who obviously grew up watching Bad Boys and playing Dance Dance Revolution. But to make that work for the entire movie we realized the main character had to be the voice of the audience, which is [why he has to leave and then come back to The FP].
Brandon: The J-Tro character is the only one who speaks like a normal person in the whole movie. He’s not yelling at somebody always.
When you’re making a film with such an ambitious concept the budget can get in your way. But you guys pulled off some interesting costume design, some great production design and you have a really good cast who can sell this joke. How hard was it putting this thing together on the level of having a small budget?
Jason: It’s impossible
Brandon: It is impossible. For us it was years of building relationships. I’ve been shooting as a cinematographer for ten years now. And Jason has been -
Jason: Writing and directing and editing. I started acting when I was in high school, making shorts that this was based on. It was a seven year odyssey.
Brandon: As far as getting it together it was pulling in a lot of favors for us, using the relationships we had made. A lot of the cast was people Jason knew.
Jason: Our sister was the costume designer.
Brandon: Our whole family was involved. Our dad does special effects, which is the reason why we have explosions in the movie. We shot the whole movie on his property, he helped finance the film. It was a family affair. We shot the whole film in Frazier Park, where it takes place, where we grew up. It’s just outside of LA. But our whole family is in the industry. The handful of crewmembers we had were people we worked with for years. The editor was a director that I shot a film for years before. I got color correction done by the company that I color corrected Crank 2 with just because I have a relationship with them. All the work we put into other projects came back into our own.
Jason: Essentially if we didn’t have talented friends and family members we’d be screwed.
Brandon: Part of the joke in the commitment to it is the commitment to the style too. We didn’t want this to feel like an indie film. We wanted it to feel like a bigger budget, Hollywood movie.
Jason: We never aspired to make films in the indie genre with the special font and in black and white and with a goofy look. We want to make big budget action movies one day, so why not start trying?
Where did the original concept come from?
Brandon: That’s Jason.
Jason: When I was in high school I started playing Dance Dance Revolution for some goddamn reason. This game was so addicting, it was so ridiculous. I started getting good at it, and I saw the way people looked at me when I played it and I thought, ‘Holy shit, there’s something here.’ At the same time I was playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and was watching a lot of The OC for some reason. I thought, ‘What if we melded these worlds of extreme hip hop with the ridiculousness of a CW television show?’ That’s where it started - the original shorts were knock offs of The OC, all weirdly dramatic for no reason. But the core of this world was Dance Dance Revolution.
Brandon: Basically it turned into our version of The Warriors.
Without spoiling anything this film has the greatest final shot in the history of cinema. How did you guys decide on that amazing final moment?
Brandon: Jason made these shorts when he was in high school while I was off shooting some horrible indie film. Jason made the original shorts with some friends. Jason was always making shorts, and he was always showing them to me and they were always inspired.
Jason: He was like ‘That’s nice, that’s cute, that’s fine,’ but then this one [with the ending shot] showed up one day and he was like -
Brandon: It was awesome. That ending was in the original short Jason shot.
Jason: I’ve had that ending since I was 15 years old. Everyone else goes for the kiss, but we had to up the ante.
How real was the dancing?
Brandon: It’s all real.
Jason: The only faked dancing in the movie is B-Tro - I had to double his legs.
Brandon: All the shots of his legs from the waist down are really Jason.
Jason: Everyone could play the game a little bit. Me and the main bad guy were the best at it.
Brandon: Actually the Russian guy couldn’t play at all, he just did some Russian dance on it that was funny, so we shot it.
So you’re playing the actual game then?
Jason: Yeah. We had graphics made up for it, but they are all actual moves from the game and hitting the corresponding notes.
Brandon: They had to be in synch or it wouldn’t look right.
Jason: And playing in arctic snow boots is not the easiest thing in the world.
Can you talk about Art Hsu, because he is the bizarre heart of this movie as KC/DC. You met him on Crank 2?
Brandon: Yeah, I worked with him on Crank 2. We originally had a different actor playing KC/DC in the short, who was a super talented actor we were friends with for years, but he was too busy to do the feature. I started racking my brains and my phone list for all these people I had worked with. I actually had worked with Corey Haim at the time and I had approached him about it, but he couldn’t do it, as crazy and sad as that is.
We wanted somebody who was maybe a name or something.
Jason: A name or somebody who could hold the entire movie together as the heart and soul.
Brandon: And he really was. What we liked about him specifically is that a lot of the movie draws on 80s films but I feel like his presence, just the way he plays the character, makes this a classic 80s film in its own way.
Jason: He’s our Short Round.
Brandon: We always wanted him to be the heart of the movie and he plays it so likable that he becomes an unforgettable character.
I think The FP may hold the record for having the most sentences that end with ‘and shit.’ Was that in the script or is it improv?
Brandon: Almost everything in the film is exactly as scripted. ‘And shit’ is something that comes from the white trash locale of the mountains where we come from, which is something we always found very funny.
Jason: You notice how shit is always about to get hot? There is no present tense for shit being hot right now - it’s always about to get hot or it just got hot.