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Exclusive Interview with Bad Roomies’ Patrick Renna, Tommy Savas and Jason Schnell

 

2b9eb36d-7c18-4df6-8a53-680aa46360a8Longtime friends Jason Schnell, Patrick Renna and Tommy Savas are releasing their dark comedy Bad Roomies this December. Jason directed, while Patrick and Tommy were first-time producers and lead actors.

Jason the co-founder of the Reckless Tortuga YouTube channel is best known for directing shorts Max and Josh and Worse Than Vietnam: A High School Musical. Patrick has been acting since he was a child, and is best known for his breakout role in The Sandlot. Tommy is best known for roles on State of Affairs and The Last Ship. 

Keep reading to find out more about their recent project Bad Roomies!

Tommy and Jason we know that you guys worked together on the Reckless Tortuga YouTube channel, but how did all three of you meet and come together for Bad Roomies?

Jason Schnell: Well, we’ve all been friends for quite a while. We’ve done some short films and stuff like that together, so we’ve worked together throughout the years.

Tommy Savas: I don’t think we actually remember meeting each other. (Laughs).

Patrick Renna: I met Tommy at sushi in Los Angeles about 18 years ago.

Tommy Savas: That’s right, that’s right.

Patrick Renna: Then I met Jason because he dated a very good friend of ours years ago, so I met him probably 15-18 years ago.

Jason Schnell: The truth of the matter is LA, you know, Hollywood is a bit of a small world, you get to work with the same people over and over again. Luckily you find the ones you like and you stick with them.

Tommy Savas: Yep.

What was the inspiration behind Bad Roomies?

Tommy Savas: With the script, we got together as a group, it was us three and then there was the writer, Justin Mooney, and we all wanted to do a project together. It kind of started from a place of what can we all do together that is our strong suit that we’d love, and we wanted to do a comedy. Bad Roomies is actually the third or fourth script that we put together before we found the one that we wanted to do.  Inspiration for Bad Roomies came from us all having funny instances from our lives, and we would sit around and have late nights talking about them.

Patrick Renna: We didn’t kill anybody, just so you know. We just were talking about that the other day, we have never murdered anyone. (Laughs).

Tommy Savas: That’s all original jokes for the movie.

Jason Schnell: Speak for yourself. (Laughs).

Tommy Savas: Oh, jeez.

You never accidentally stabbed anyone. (Laughs). Good to know.

Patrick Renna: Never!

You started the Kickstarter campaign back in 2013. How long did you have Bad Roomies in your minds, and how long was the process of making it a reality?

Jason Schnell: I would say we really started working closely on development about six months before that. We had ideas that we’d been tossing around for years, and other things, that we had been working on, but we were actively developing the script in the summer of 2013 and that is when we really started reading all the time, and developing the story.

Tommy Savas: From that point to now it has been about two and a half years

Patrick Renna: The funny thing about it is, it seemed like we did everything on this movie in reverse, and differently than most movies and films are made. From conception to actually having the movie wrap, it was under a year. Then everything else, from selling the movie, and funding the movie and all these different things, it has taken a long time, but we were pretty fast about it.

How long did filming actually take?

Tommy Savas: We shot the film in 18 days. 

What did the money from Kickstarter actually go towards?

Bad Roomies - Still (9)Tommy Savas: Every dollar actually went on to the screen. We basically were able to put together the budget through our executive producer and Kickstarter in combination, so every single dollar that we got, we put on the screen. We didn’t by any means have a big budget at all, but through some of the abilities that we have because of Reckless Tortuga and stuff, we were able to do this movie for a fraction of what a normal feature film costs.

Jason Schnell: There’s one scene you’ll see in the movie where Pat’s playing tricks on the other roommates, and all that money went towards a nude thong that Patrick wore in that scene. (Laughs).

Patrick Renna: That was $1000. We just did an interview with a Victoria’s Secret model who was wearing a two million dollar bra. I was wearing a half a million dollar thong, just not the bra with it. (Laughs).

Did you guys have a favorite scene to film?

Tommy Savas: I think it’s different for all of us. For me, I loved the fight sequence. It was so much fun being able to go through that table two times and then Patrick getting a pawn smashed on his face, just choreographing that. What was really cool about that scene was the stunt coordinators we used on that, funnily enough, a little piece of trivia, are Michael Bay stunt coordinators.

I had just done a show called The Last Ship, and got into good graces with those guys, and they were cool enough to come help us with that scene. That’s my piece of trivia. That was my favorite scene. Pat, what do you think?

Patrick Renna: Yeah, I think that was probably everyone’s favorite scene because of the excitement! We had an entire day of our schedule set aside for it, although I’m sure talking to the director that it wasn’t even close to enough time. I think Jason did a lot of piecing that day. From a production side that was very stressful, from an actor’s side it was awesome!

I think my favorite scene was the drug trip scene. We also had a day for that, and it was after principal photography was wrapped. It was our one pickup day, so the movie was done, we knew we had everything, and we were just getting this day for extra laughs. It was very relaxed, and I had a lot of fun doing that. We had a blast.

Jason Schnell: My favorite scene is the first time Ray and Bobby are in bed together. I have such a passion for character comedy and to me, that scene just works on so many levels, it’s such a fun scene. It kind of sums up the theme of the movie, which is the idea of something is always better than the actuality of it. That’s the conception of the idea of what it would be like to have a cool roommate, how awesome it would be and the fantasy of it. I really enjoyed that scene. It was also one of the first times I’d screened a rough cut of the movie. It was the point in which I realized that I might actually have a movie here, when I got to that scene.

Patrick, you’ve mentioned it briefly, but in the movie your roommate drugs the pizza that you guys eat. So what’s the biggest prank that you guys have pulled on a roommate?

Patrick Renna: Well, true story, I actually had two female roommates. It was the Bad Roomies reversal. I lived with two ladies. I started off with two dudes, I had this amazing house, and one of them bought a little condo, and the other was Italian and was just too Italian for me. He was too good-looking. So I gave them both the boot, and I moved in with two lovely ladies, and I think as far as pranks, just me living with them was a permanent prank. It was wonderful for me and probably awful for them. Although in my defense, I’m a very clean dude, so I didn’t gross them out ever. (Laughs). Jason?

Jason Schnell: I guess the biggest prank I ever played on a roommate is not paying the rent. (Laughs). Being a struggling filmmaker sometimes you’re not in a position to be able to do such things like pay rent, and I believe I pulled that prank quite a few times. Tommy?

Tommy Savas: Me and Pat lived together for a brief moment. I never played a prank on him though. I used to go to summer camp every summer growing up in East Hills, and we’d always do pranks there. I think my favorite little prank was the cellophane on the toilet. You know that one? The person goes to take a number 2 and have poop all over themselves? That’s a solid one. (Laughs).

Tommy and Patrick, this was your first time producing, so what was that like and how was it producing and starring in the film?

Tommy Savas: It was definitely a challenge and eye-opening, to go from one side of the camera to the other and really see how much goes into it. You kind of lose perspective as an actor because you feel like you make the movie, then it goes away for a year and a half, and then it’s on the screen. You really learn to appreciate all the nuances and what everybody else does behind the scenes as an actor you don’t get to see that perspective. You know it’s a challenge, it’s definitely something I enjoy doing and I want to do in the future, but it’s such a different world than acting. Luckily with Jason and then Justin Mooney, when me and Patrick were being actors, we really tried just to let us be the actors, and those guys kind of held down the fort a little bit for us. Pat?

Patrick Renna: Yeah, I would agree. I think we were very lucky to have Jason and Justin. There were very few moments that both Tommy and I were not in a scene together in this movie. It was really, really fun to watch Tommy and Annie (the lead actress) have scenes together and actually be able to produce from the side. Honestly, it was almost like two jobs. We would have 12 hour days of filming, and then we would all meet and produce until late in the night, and then kind of sleep a little bit, and get started again, so I agree it was challenging. We did surround ourselves with great dudes and ladies and I think the production team was really great too. We brought on a fifth producer and the first AD and second AD were pretty crucial in making life a bit easier for us.

How did you guys decide on the ending?

Patrick Renna: There were two moments in the making of this film, where we almost killed each other, the four of us. That was one of them, and the other was hiring the lead actress. I think that Jason, the director, and I were always on one side, and Tommy and the writer Justin were always on another, and it seems that Tommy and Justin won every single time. 

I wanted a happy ending, and none of you guys wanted it. I see The Notebook and I cry for like hours, I get tears, and my shirt’s wet from tears, and I’m that kind of a guy. I just wanted a happy ending, but I think they were right about the ending. I think we met in the middle.

Tommy Savas: We did.

Jason Schnell: I think with a movie like this, there’s a multitude of different ways to go. One of your biggest jobs as a director is the arbiter of tone. Trying to keep the movie in a certain range as far as tone is concerned. I have to say, this movie was extremely difficult, more difficult than anything I’ve ever done in regards to tone, because it sits in both this kind of broad comedy realm and on top of that, this really intense dramatic realm as well as where things are happening and they’re somewhat plausible. I think when we got to the end of the movie, the discussion was always, “How can we give the audience something that puts them in a position where they’re not walking out going, ‘Ugh, I want to kill myself. That was terrible.'” (Laughs). 

I loved the final scene!

Jason Schnell: Thank you.

Patrick Renna: Can we say sequel? There’s going to be a Bad Roomies 2.

You guys just announced that The Orchard is going to distribute the film. How did you choose that company and what was it like trying to find a distribution company?

Tommy Savas: That’s something that none of us had done before, so that was a learning experience for all of us. We had an awesome sales agent, Preferred Content, who has done so many awesome movies. One of my favorite documentaries they did was Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Anyway, we had a bunch of distributors come to the screening in LA, and we had a bunch of interest, and The Orchard was just one of those companies that all the movies they make, are movies that we all really love. To have that kind of acknowledgement to say that our film had a place and had a home with their catalog of movies, was a success on its own, because their catalog is awesome. The things they’re doing right now with independent film, this kind of newer up and coming distribution company as far as digital film is concerned, and just to be a part of that success story was really appealing.

Patrick Renna: Yeah. I think that was perfectly said.

Tommy Savas: Thank you.

Patrick Renna: I agree with him.

You touched on what your favorite scene to film was, but what scene are you mot excited for the audience to see? Is it the same? Is it the fight scene and the bed scene, or is it a different scene?

Jason Schnell: When we screened the film for distributors, we also had an audience with us, and the reaction from the audience when that stabbing occurs, is one of my favorite things to be in the room and watch. I just love the reaction, because it really comes out of left field. I think the whole time, hopefully, if I’ve done my job somewhat right, you’re thinking one of them is going to die.

Patrick Renna : Maybe one of them does! You never know. That’s where we won’t spoil it. (Laughs).

Jason Schnell: Yeah, we’re not going to spoil it, but…

Patrick Renna: You know I will not.

Jason Schnell: I think when it’s revealed who dies is my favorite thing to watch people react to.

You guys talked about the pranks you pulled on your roommate, but what’s your worst roommate story?

Tommy Savas: Okay, I have one. It’s rather vulgar, but I’ll tell it.

Patrick Renna: How vulgar?

Tommy Savas: It’s our buddy Jeff in the shower. (Laughs). I had a roommate, years ago, this is right after I moved to LA, and he sometimes liked to go to the bathroom in the shower. By bathroom in the shower, I don’t mean number 1, I mean number 2. So one day I woke up, I had to go to the bathroom, I stepped into the tub, and there’s a number 2 waiting for me in the shower. He thought it was hilarious, and I thought it was gross, so that would be my worst roommate story ever. Thank you very much.

Patrick Renna: I guess for me, my worst roommate story was, I had a roommate, everything was fine. Then one day, her boyfriend showed up, he was hanging out, he spent the night. That was day one. By day 25 he never left, and he basically moved in without anybody talking to me.

Jason Schnell: I think that happens to all of us, and they don’t pay rent. You’re right. That is the worst. That is mine too.

Patick Renna: Kara and Nash I’m going to say their names. Kara and Nash. I love them both dearly, but my roommate was Kara, and then I ended up basically living with her boyfriend Nash. Every day. He stayed, and they did not share the rent. That’s what happened.

Tommy Savas: It’s a bunch of bullshit!

Patrick Renna: Her boyfriend was there and he didn’t pay any rent! You can’t do that! You can’t use my place, you can’t take a shower and not contribute to the bill!

Tommy Savas: This is the plight of the single man, just so you know. Which some of us aren’t now, but still. 

Would you guys all use the Kickstarter platform again?

Patrick Renna: Doing Kickstarter was an awesome experience for all of us, and it was a great opportunity to start out. The greatest thing about it was after Kickstarter, we were able to secure funding from an investor later on, because we had already secured some of the money, and we were able to finish the funding through Tidal Funding. I think with Kickstarter, it’s a lot of work though. That’s where we probably were glad we did it, but I think the honest answer is we would probably not do it again. When you’ve talked to anyone who’s ever done Kickstarter, you’ll hear from them, “Wow, it’s a lot of work, and it takes constant updating and constant sending things out.” I think for that reason, we wouldn’t do it again, but we’re glad that we did it because it was a great experience.

Do you guys have another project that you’re kind of working on together again, or is there another project that you would work on together again?

Patrick Renna: I think for sure we definitely, us four, want to do another movie together, and it’ll probably be a comedy, a buddy comedy. I think it would be hard to not act in it, Tommy and I, and we’d probably do it all over again, just a different subject matter this time.

Tommy Savas: I would just say it’s interesting, and we definitely all want to do something together again. Right now, all of our energy is going in to making this first film the biggest success it could possibly be, because the more that this film does, the more ability it’s going to give us to make films on even bigger budgets. When people see this film, they are impressed with how small our budget was and the production value we got on that small budget. Ideally, the film is seen by people, and they get it, what we could do with such a small budget, and then you know, maybe we’re producing Iron Man 6 as a team. (Laughs).

You guys did have a really small budget, so how did you guys get the other actors to become involved? Was it like personal relationships, or did they read the script and want to be a part of it? Did they audition?

Tommy Savas: A little bit of both. There’s the two main actresses in the film, who we cast. We actually held casting sessions. They read the script, and they responded to it and they came in and read for it, and we responded to them. It was a definitely difficult process. Pat said before, just for us being actors and then being on the other side of that casting table was a new experience in itself, and it was really eye-opening. It’s horrible, and it’s nerve-wracking, and it’s a very unique experience to be an actor going to auditions, but the other side of that was awesome. Then, as far as the ancillary cast, and the supporting actors, a lot of those are our friends. Again, being in Hollywood, being in a small town we have a lot of friends who are really talented working actors, and when we wrote the script, we were like why would we even hold casting sessions when we have some of our best friends who are awesome, hilarious actors.

What’s the biggest reason people should tune in on December 1st on On Demand and watch Bad Roomies?

Tommy Savas: To tune into a fun ride that is surprising and unconventional, and something you’ve never seen before.

Jason Schnell: We wanted to create a film that I think doesn’t feel like anything else out there, and we wanted to make it as entertaining as we possibly could, and hopefully we accomplished that.

Patrick Renna: I would say, if you want to see the funniest movie ever made,  buy Bad Roomies on December 1st. It has everything, like Jason said. It has comedy, it has sexy time, it has a little bit of drama…

Jason Schnell: A little film noir…

Tommy Savas: A little western…

Patrick Renna: A little western, and horror… it has EVERYTHING. (Laughs).

Was there any ad libbing, or was it all strictly the script?

Patrick Renna: There’s one section that stayed in, that’s pretty much just ad libbing between Tommy and I. We had a great writer, and we talked a lot about those things once we got the written page.  We had a great dynamic between Tommy and I and the director, and they were always sort of finding things that were more fun. I would say mainly though it was scripted, but there were additions to scenes that were as libbed and there is a section when we’re on the couch in the middle of the movie, when we’ve done something really unforgivable to our poor girl roommate, and that section is all ad libbed.

Jason Schnell (Director)
Jason Schnell (Director)

Jason Schnell: I would also say getting to do this movie on our own, there was a couple of things that happened very differently than a traditional film. One of them was, we actually had Justin on set every day, so I would frequently turn to him and be like, “Hey, we need to come up with something else here. We need to work this, or let’s expand on that, or let’s rework this because this is what’s happening on the set.” You rarely get that because writers these days, especially in feature film making, are kind of relegated to, “Get out of here, it’s our movie now.” This process is very inclusive of the writer, and Justin was right there. I can remember countless times him sitting in a dark corner with his laptop, typing up new pages and handing it off to the AD for printing. That for a director is such an invaluable resource, to have another person there, because typically in my experience, when something’s not working on set, you then have to come up with it right then and there, and it’s all on you. To have a writer there in the background, kind of helping you re-work things in the proper voice the film was written in, was invaluable.

Was that because Justin was a first time writer, or because you guys were friends, or because it was independent, or why was that able to happen?

Jason Schnell: It was because he also produced the movie, so he was with us the whole way through. The writer is such an amazing resource, not just in the writing of the script initially, but throughout the production process. If you do have the ability, I would definitely say to anyone, “Don’t kick the writer to the curb, keep that writer around, because you will frequently run into situations where you need help.” It’s just wonderful to have them around.

Our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us. What do you guys nerd out about, or what makes you nerdy?

Jason Schnell: We were just talking about this!

Tommy Savas: Me and Jay are pretty big gamers.

Patrick Renna: You guys are nerds!

Jason Schnell: I’m also obsessed with Star Wars!

Patrick Renna: Jason is indeed obsessed.

Jason Schnell: Speaking of Star Wars, I just bought tickets to, I’m not joking, there’s a giant light saber battle in downtown LA on December 18th, this is a plug for them. Guess what? I bought tickets, and I’m going to go fight and be a Sith, not a Jedi, because fuck the Jedi. We’re not nerds at all. We’re very cool. (Laughs).

Patrick Renna: I’m the NOT nerdy guy in the bunch. You should have seen these two light up when you asked what do you guys get nerdy about. They are the biggest nerds you have ever met. I don’t know what I get nerdy about. I get nerdy about watching them get nerdy. I am a sports nerd, I guess. I love every single sport, and I nerd out about that.

Jason Schnell: This man curls.

Patrick Renna: Yeah, I love curling, you know what? Tommy said it recently I’m very good at all those weird sports, like pool, and bowling, and-

Tommy Savas: Table tennis!

Patrick Renna: Table tennis, and-

Jason Schnell: Mock hockey!

Patrick Renna: Yeah. Oh! and I’m a fucking fantastic Mrs. Pac Man player. Literally the best in the world. I am so solid at that game. I get the highest score every time I touch a machine. I don’t know. It’s a hidden talent of mine.

Jason Schnell: Yeah. I’m a super Star Wars nerd and I’m literally hunting for a Captain Phasma 7 inch figure.

Patrick Renna: He’s wearing a Star Wars shirt right now! If you have a Captain Phasma figurine, email Jason Schnell, yeah.

Tommy Savas: I’m a video game nerd, but I’m actually a big cartoon fan too. I love Adventure Time. My wife hates me because every night I fall asleep watching Cartoon Network. Every single night. Right now I just binged watched the whole first two seasons of Rick and Morty. It was incredible. I watch Adventure Time almost every day. I’m a big cartoon nerd for sure.

Jason Schnell: There are little nerd things in there in the movie, actually. There’s a couple of little nods. I had to do the ‘I love you and I know’ at the end, from Empire Strikes Back.  There are a thousand little references. There’s the fight from Big on the tennis court, which is the same fight that they have, basically. There’s a lot of nods to nerd-ism in the film,because I am obsessed.

 

Watch the official trailer below. Bad Roomies is available for digital purchase & VOD on Tuesday December 1st. You can pre-order it here

 

 

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