Netflix has been dominating television programming for a while, but over the past couple years, they’ve been dumping a lot of their resources into the film arena, and this year, we’re getting around 80 original movies on the streaming service. The streaming giant’s strategy has always been about the quantity of content and the diverse nature of the content.
With the upcoming film, Game Over, Man!, which hits Netflix tomorrow, they’ll be checking off a film in the action-comedy arena. The film is the brainchild of the Workaholics crew, which consists of actors Adam Devine and Blake Anderson, writer-actor Anders Holm, and director Kyle Newacheck, and as you may have guessed from the trailer and name, it is inspired by some of the great action movies of all time.
I recently had a chance to chat with Newacheck about his new film, and in it we delve into those inspirations, the challenges of moving from TV to feature films, and the importance of improv.
Game Over, Man! hits Netflix tomorrow!
LRM: First of all, I want to say congratulations on “Game Over, Man!”
Newacheck: Thank you very much.
LRM: I have a couple things to ask. First of all, this is your first feature film, which is a huge deal. What were some of the biggest differences? You have a long and storied history in TV and especially comedy TV. What were some of the biggest differences going from the comedy TV world to more action-comedy world in this movie?
Newacheck: I think the biggest was that there were fewer restrictions for me as a director. I was able to actually have… Visually I was able to tell the story that I really wanted to tell. We built a lot of the world, we built a lot of the sets, and I just had a little bit more time and a little bit more money. A little bit more resources to put on the screen, in which, at the end of the day is, my only goal is to make the biggest, best movie I could make. And it was the same way with the TV show too. Make the biggest, best episode we can. But the budgets never got bigger on the TV show.
The other thing was, with TV it’s a big difference actually making a movie that holds the attention span of the Workaholics fans. And makes people feel something throughout the movie. It’s much harder to do that over a 90-minute, 100-minute story than it is to do 22 minutes and just wrap it up. I really did learn a lot about character and making sure that it’s constantly on story. Always…
LRM: You mentioned Workaholics, obviously this feels like a big, mammoth extension of that. How did this project come to be?
Newacheck: It all goes back to the movie Die Hard. ‘Cause that is a movie that we all, the four of us collectively enjoyed together and was one of those little boy shaping movies that we watched with our dads. A movie that we all love. We could decide on that and we just wanted to make.
We thought it would be really funny. We knew it would be really funny to throw the three guys in. The three stooges into John McClane’s part. It starts with that movie, and then season one we did an episode called, “Office Camp-out” that was the guys trapped in their office trying to save the day. And then I remembered season five, we did this trailer thing, where I took everybody out to the desert and we made this action movie trailer for Workaholics, and the whole joke was that none of it will ever be seen. And when I did that I was like, “Okay, we can do an action movie. We can really do it if we want to.”
And then we acquired Seth Rogen and his company, and we acquired Scott Rudin and his company, and Netflix, and then it was off to the races.
LRM: As you mentioned, “Die Hard” played a big part in this. The title pulled from the “Aliens” — The eternal “Aliens” line from Bill Paxton. What other ’80s movies were you inspired by for this movie?
Newacheck: A lot of people talk about action comedy and they don’t mention Lethal Weapon. Because it’s a good movie. And it’s a great action comedy and to me, I drew a lot of inspiration from that because, I really don’t believe when they set out to make that, they set out to make a comedy. They just set out to make an action movie with some funny people in it.
I know how funny the guys are. I know that they’re gonna bring their A game. [Screenwriter/actor Anders Holm] wrote very funny set pieces. So the action itself was actually funny as well. And so then I took the approach of “Well, I’m making an action movie now. You guys are in my action movie.” Because of Lethal Weapon, because I just imagined them… They’re making an action movie first. And the comedy comes second.
LRM: So you’re there to make an action movie. It just happens to be populated by these ridiculous characters that take control.
Newacheck: Exactly. And I can’t get away from comedy either. I was there making the comedy, but I really tried to get my action on. I really tried to do good action. Really intense action so that, if people aren’t laughing at the movie at times, they’re holding the edge of their seat. I wanted this to be… Even though it’s a Netflix movie that’s gonna come out in everybody’s living room, I built it for the theaters. I built it like I was making the movie I always wanted to make. I didn’t let that get in the way. Some people I think can be like, “Oh it’s a Netflix thing. It’s just on the internet but it’s never gonna be in a theater,” when, it’s like “Home theaters are dope.” And people can have an experience at their house.
LRM: Was there a specific action set piece that kinda took the cake as far as being a specific challenge for you as a director?
Newacheck: The zip line sequence was very challenging. To have those guys break the window, throw the iron, connect to the zip out, land there in the middle and then fall down. That was all very big. Big and new for me. Where I actually had a second unit of stunts going for that sequence. I never had that before.
LRM: When you’re switching between having just a single unit and then going to second unit, do you feel a bit nervous that there are some shots that are beyond your control?
Newacheck: Yes, totally and I learned a lot about how to deal with that. But, what they would do is, as they were at the monitors because the cell phone’s in my pocket and it’s by my monitor, they’re texting me. They’re texting me the shots. And so I’m sitting there on unit one set directing the two or three cameras that we have going there, and all the actors. And then while we have a little bit of downtime I’m checking my phone and seeing what kind of giant shots these guys got over in downtown Vancouver with the drone. And if they’re exactly what I wanted. That’s helpful, technology wins again.
LRM: Yeah, for sure. In this movie, there are a lot of great celebrities scattered about and the Bey is a fictional character, but I couldn’t help but wonder if there anyone in particular that the character is based on?
Newacheck: I think the closest we could get to is maybe Aziz Ansari’s performance in Funny People when he played Randy. I feel like that was around the time when we started writing this movie. I can’t remember if Anders used him as an archetype or not. I remember drawing a parallel in my head. I didn’t have anybody really, to tell you the truth. We hired Utkarsh Ambudkar and then Utkarsh just made it his own and just killed it.
LRM: So how much of the film was scripted versus improv’d?
Newacheck: There’s a lot of improv. There’s a lot of free-flowing dialogue. Maybe I wouldn’t call it pure improv, where you’re improv’ing the situation ’cause you can’t do that. That doesn’t really work. Not in a movie. You can do it in a corner in your room with your friends and you can make something really beautiful, but in a movie, you can’t improv the scenarios really. It’s more free-flowing dialogue. It’s more the guys say things that make it feel more natural, and then they can add a little joke, an interjection and all that.
What we do, we’ll go through the scene that Anders wrote, and we all wanted to shoot and we’ll talk about it and discuss it. And then we’ll do a take, and they’ll do it pretty much to the script, because we’re finding the emotion. We’re finding the truths in the character. And then, those dudes do what they do and they find. And I do what I do at the monitors, which is find little truthful jokes in the moment and then add those in.
But, we’re not just improv’ing. One of the best improvs, actually probably the strongest improv in the movie, is when after they kill [SPOILER]. When they’re having their moment where they’re like ” I love you man, don’t cry that’s such a bitch ass thing to do.” Almost that whole scene was improv. We weren’t sure how we were gonna have these guys come back together initially. These guys are totally broken up and now they have to get back together. And Adam actually improv’d the “I just wanna be a little… You guys are the idea seeds and I’m the sh*t. I’m the fertilizer. I’m the fertilizer that makes those seeds grow. I’m the sh*t.”
And I was like, “Oh, it’s so genius and heartfelt,” and truthful in the moment. Definitely, that wasn’t on the page. I know that wasn’t on the page.
LRM: That’s pretty cool.
Newacheck: Yeah, there’s a lot. I would love to go back and compare. I think that would be a cool thing. Compare what we started with and what we ended up with.
LRM: As I mentioned before, your first feature. If you could go back in time and then give your past self right at the beginning of this project a piece of advice that would help smooth things along in this process, what would it be now that you’ve directed your first feature?
Newacheck: If I could go back and do it all over again, I would have probably asked for a real soundstage instead of an old ice cream factory in Burnaby, Canada. We ended up shooting it in a warehouse. This very, very cold, old ice cream factory. And we built all the sets. The whole conference room set was in the freezer of the sound stage ice cream factory. Everything was cool. The space was good, but I was bummed on the sound.
LRM: Is that the sound that you ended up with on the movie, or did you guys loop it?
Newacheck: We were able to clean it up, so it wasn’t too bad. But I remember it not being much like a hotel at first and we had to go in and tweak it, and it’s not too bad. I think I would hold myself to some… A little bit higher production standards, the next movie, you know?
Newacheck: But this one, we had to. We had to, it’s the only way to make it work with the money.
LRM: What’s up next for you? Is there anything big coming on the horizon?
Newacheck: Like you said, I’m just kinda waiting for the movie to come out. But yeah, I have half a dozen projects that I’m waiting for people to see this, and see how it does and then they can say “Okay, cool. He’s the dude.” I got some good ones coming up that are exciting, yeah.
LRM: Well, we’re looking forward to it. Thanks so much for your time, and once again congratulations on this movie and I wish you all the best with it.
Newacheck: Thanks, man.