I attended the red carpet and screening of “It’s a Disaster,” a film directed by University of Texas grad Todd Berger. The film is about 8 people who have gathered for a weekly brunch only to become stuck in the house due to a cataclysmic disaster. I had the fortunate occasion to interview cast members Jeff Grace, who plays Jeff; America Ferrera, who plays Hedy; and Erinn Hayes who plays Emma.
Tell us a little about your part in the film.
Jeff Grace: I play Shane, a comic book conspiracy nut, who, when he finds out that it just might be the end of the world, it becomes sort of a dream come true for him, because Shane is eager to use his knowledge about his knowledge of the genre, like “Road Warrior” and “28 days.” He’s excited that he is now the star of his own survivor movie, and he is oblivious to all the drama that is going on around him because he’s just too excited about the prospect of becoming the savior of the group.
As also producer of the film, how did you get such a great cast?
Jeff Grace: Julia Stiles was the key. We did a series of short films with her the year before, and we thought she would be great in the movie. We sent her the script and thought we weren’t sure she would respond to it, but she said, “I’m on board.” In fact, she said to use her name so we could attract some other cast members. From there she recommended America, who then got us in touch with David Cross and it just went on from there.
You went from such a dramatic part of the tough cop in “End of Watch” to this film, which is a comedy. How do you prepare for a part like this?
America Ferrera: I went right from “End of Watch” to this film, with only a couple of days in between, and the change was really wonderful. “End of Watch” was an amazing, super intense experience that was based on our hands-on research and experience with the police officers in Los Angeles. But by the end of the film I was so ready to snap back, like a rubber band, to something that was more warm and easy, more comfortable, with a comedy that had some improvisation at times, so it was a welcome change for me.
What was it like working with actors like Julia Stiles and David Cross?
America Ferrera: David is a friend of mine, and I actually sent him the script, wanting him to be in the film. It was real exciting to send him the script because he is a friend of mine, but I am also a fan of his and wanted him to like the script. He texted me back about an hour after I had emailed him the script and said “I’m in”, which then I celebrated. David being in the film made it very interesting for me, because we expect comedians to be the guys that are cracking everyone up on set, but David is incredibly grounded in his professionalism and preparedness. Everyone showed up with their A game. One thing I thought was interesting about being in a cast with 7 other people in one location (for) the whole shoot was that we all had very different characters and very different journeys in the film, so none of our characters were in the same mood at the same time. Some of us had to be in a happy mood and others had to be in shock. Someone would be high at the same time another person would be crying. So, acting in this film felt like sometimes you were out there on a ledge by yourself because everyone else in the film was in a completely different case.
What do you want audiences to get out of this film? What makes this film different that other films in this genre?
Erinn: It’s very different than other films in this genre. It’s not a save the world film, it’s just let’s deal with what’s happening, dealing with the day-to-day stuff that is happening, dealing with relationships while the world may be ending, and the comedy that comes from that.
You were only on one set, did it get a little claustrophobic after a while?
Erinn: It wasn’t claustrophobic as so much as just really hot. It was shot over fourteen days, and it was during the hottest period of weather that LA has ever seen. The first big scene in the film, where everyone is sitting down to brunch, and we were just sweating buckets it was so hot. Here you are trying to be cool and composed because the heat isn’t part of the script and you are sweating rivers down your back. But, it was fun making this film because we were playing friends and what better way to become friends with your cast mates than to be in such close quarters, being together, all day long? We even rented the house across the street to serve as our dressing room and trailer, so we got to hang out there between setups and scenes.
Thank you very much and much success with the film.
My Review: “It’s a Disaster” (2012) Four couples get together for a weekly brunch at Emma (Erinn Hayes) and Pete’s (Blaise Miller) house. The other three couples who attend are Buck (Kevin Brennan) and Lexi (Rachel Boston), a couple that like to push the boundaries, Shane (Jeff Grace) and Hedy (America Fererra), a couple seemly happy in their relationship, and Tracy (Julia Stiles) and Glenn (David Cross), a couple who has just recently started dating and are using this chance to introduce Glenn to Tracy’s group of friends. The brunch starts out normal but soon the power and phone lines go out, and a next door neighbor shows up in a hazmat suit, a sign that things are about to get weird and scary. This is a funny comedy that goes back and forth between a light couples comedy and a dark, twisted piece, and Director Todd Berger does an incredible job of making the transition between the two, sometimes at a moments notice and the script makes us care about each couple. The cast works well together with the chemistry between Cross and Stiles standing out as a couple that is in the early stages of their relationship and are trying to figure out if they are really do belong together. Have fun with this film and be sure to bring a covered dish. You just might need it.
My Rating: Full Price