I had the pleasure of attending a round table interview with the three stars of the upcoming film “The Kings of Summer”- Moises Arias, Nick Robinson and Gabriel Basso. Disclosure: I work for CBS and this film is being released by CBS films.
“The Kings of Summer” will be released on Friday, June 7th.The Kings of Summer Website
Hi Guys, can you explain how you first got into the project.
Moises: Well, my story is probably different from the other two guys. I was working on another project and normally I don’t read while working on other things. But I was sent the script and I laughed my ass off while reading it. I did the audition and I read the script which was a genius script by Chris Galletta. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do it. So we met in L.A. for a little improv training that our director, Jordan Vogt-Roberts put us through.
Gabriel: Originally, I read the script and fell in love with it. I wanted to be part of the project ever since I finished reading the script. I met these two guys at improv training and then we flew to Ohio to make the film.
Nick: My story is fairly similar to Gabe’s. I read the script and loved it because it really captured what it is to be a teen, in that weird place between adulthood and childhood. I went in and did the audition, didn’t hear anything for a long time. Then I got called in to do some chemistry reads with Gabe and Erin Moriarty, who plays Kelly. After that I got a call that said, “all right, get ready because we are filming in three weeks in Ohio.”
Why did they want you to take the improv classes?
Moises: We were working with some of the funniest people on the planet, like Nick Offerman, who is one of the funniest people I’ve ever encountered, Megan Mullally, Mark Evan Jackson, Mary Lynn Rajskub. Jordan knows a lot of improvisors and brought them in for lots of cameos. He wanted us to be up on our toes and develop some chemistry. Jordan just want us to develop some chemistry and he loves to do long takes. A lot of the film was improvised.
What was it like working with people like Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, and Alison Brie?
Nick: Intimidating at first. Nick Offerman is Nick Offerman. I mean he is Ron Swanson from “Parks and Recreation.” But once you get to know the guy, he is a total teddy bear. But it was amazing. I learned more on that set than in any improv class, just by watching this cast work. They were utter professionals to the end and very, very talented. And very funny.
Gabriel: Yeah, I loved working with Marc Evan Jackson. Mark and Megan were awesome to work with. They are great people, incredible actors and improv artists.
It looked like you guys were having a blast making this film. Was it as much fun making it as it looks?
Moises: It was probably the most fun I have ever had shooting a film. It was a difficult film to shoot. We had to shoot a lots of long hours. But we were there for the love of the craft. We believed in the script, believed what it could be. What made the movie was Joran’s ability to take B-Roll and make it coincide with the actually script. Like our big pipe scene that you see in the trailer was improvised. For that shot, we just went into the woods with the Director of Photography, Jordan, Chris and the three of us. We went into the woods and just started messing around with sticks, jumping off of stuff, which led to me just getting up on this big pipe and doing this sort of incredible tribal dance.
Nick: Accompanied by our beats.
Gabriel: Yeah, give us some credit there.
Moises: It was defiantly one of the most memorable experiences that I have had as an actor.
How was it wearing a cast around your foot for an entire film? Did that inhibit you at all?
Gabriel: Yeah, it really inhibited my movement. It was extremely gross by the end of filming. It got really sweaty and muddy, and any other disgusting adjective you can think of could be used to describe the cast. Half of the stuff in did in the film was probably impossible for a kid that was actually injured. But for me it was just difficult trying to keep my balance because the bottom of that thing was just flat plastic. Like, when we were running by the river, the rocks were really slippery and I was just trying to keep up with the other guys and not fall.
Due to the improv nature of the shoot, were there any scenes that were difficult to film?
Nick: All the scenes were difficult to shoot because they were flipping hilarious, so it was hard to keep a strait face.
Gabriel: That dinner scene where I am attempting to eat while Marc and Megan are being genius was so tough to get through because they are just so funny. Every other second would be a brilliant joke and I would just have to sit there and eat my burger, attempting at not laughing.
Moises: Yes, when I saw the film, I saw a little smirk starting to appear on your face as Megan was talking about you taking the vegetable soup.
Gabriel: Exactly! I couldn’t do it with a strait face.
Nick: Yeah, there were a couple of moments with Nick that I just had a hard time keeping it together.
Moises: And it was tough for me because my character always had no reaction to anything.
Gabriel: So when Moises broke, we all did.
Moises: Yeah, it was an on going joke that Nick couldn’t keep a strait face when I was looking at him. In fact, there were quite a few times that Jordan had to pull us back a bit just so we could finish the scene.
Did you guys go through any sort of special training; because there are scenes in the film where you build fires and you, Nick, had to skin a rabbit?
Gabriel: Our stunt coordinator, Rick Fike, who’s a Special Forces guy, showed us how to do some stuff.
Nick: But we didn’t have any special training. Like we didn’t build the house. I have absolutely no carpentry skills. We did throw hammers at the house but that was about it.
Gabriel: Yeah, we helped destroy it but we didn’t build it.
Nick: And as far as rabbit skinning, they handed me a book on surveil training, which showed me where to cut. I kind of had a rough idea, having watched a bunch of survival shows on TV. But yeah, no formal training.
Your characters are living in a rather strange town, which has some of the weirdest parents out there. Which kind of explains why your characters wanted to run away?
Gabriel: Yeah, our characters tried to escape the weird people and ended up with Biaggo.
Moises: If you noticed my character, Biaggo, when he goes back home his father doesn’t even ask where he had been. It was like, you’ve been gone? Whatever! Biaggo, is in his own little world, it just seems like he is just there for the ride. And yeah, there is defiantly some weird people in that town.
Your characters run away and go live in the woods. Is this something that you would have every done when you were a teenager?
Nick: I would have tried but I don’t think I could pull it off.
Gabriel: Yeah, I would need friends. There is no way I could go out there and build a house by myself. I would probably get eaten by a bear or something.
Nick: The most I would be able to do would be a lean-to. There is no way I could have built any sort of house like these kids do.
Moises: I would bring a tent.
Nick: Wait, we can bring things? Then I would have made it out in the woods for a long time. I go camping all the time with my family. If I have a tent, then I am all set. But if it is just me thrown out into the wilderness, then I would only make it a couple of days.
Did you get a fondness for Boston Market Chicken, since your characters seem to eat it every day?
Nick: Just the opposite. It’s really good chicken. But, man, if you ate as much as we did on the film, it just kills your taste for it.
All of you have worked on big budget films. What is it like working on an Indie film compared to those bigger films?
Moises: I was shooting “Ender’s Game,” which is a big budget film. So I went from shooting at NASA to this small film in Ohio. When doing a smaller film it’s all about the script and believing what the film could turn out to be. I’ve done a lot of independent movies, but none of them have had the script that this film had. Chris did a fantastic job with it. But working on an independent film, you have to be ready to work long hours and be willing to work on your days off. We shot this film in 23 days, whereas, “Ender’s Game” took four months to shoot. It was a lot of work and if we didn’t like each other, it would have been brutal. Nick had almost no time off, he had a crazy schedule.
Nick: You just have to want to be there, because it’s not about the money. Being a small film, there wasn’t any money. You just have to believe in the script and believe in the people attached to it. And at the end of the day it was great to be part of this film. There was a lot more creative freedom on this film than if you were on a big budget film.
Gabriel: What helps me when working on an independent film is that the crew is there everyday and you have to realize that they are putting in a lot more hours than you are. They have to put everything up and take everything down. And the crew wasn’t complaining. When you look at them and see the passion that they have for the film, then it makes it easier.
Nick: There was so much passion in this project. That as an actor you have to go and put everything you can into it, to make it worth everyone’s while.
A lot of Independent films don’t get noticed but this film, since making its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, has gotten a lot of people talking about it. How has it been to get such a reaction to your work?
Moises: I’ve worked on a lot of independent films that get released and no one knows that there out there. But it’s really fantastic to be involved with something you really believe in. For the film to even make it to Sundance was incredible. And now people are comparing our film to “Stand By Me,” which is just amazing. We just hope that people find out about our movie and go see it. Go and see a film made as art, not a film with a bunch of CGI effects put together. This is a funny film that has a lot of heart.
Gabriel: Like Moises said, it’s been a pleasure watching the way the film has been received because we put a lot of work in this film. It’s been fun to watch the audience laugh and clap while experiencing the film. It’s been really cool to see the attention it’s gotten.
Nick: It’s been really great to see because it’s just the polar opposite to all the summer blockbusters. Like Gabe and Moises said, it’s been incredible to put a whole lot of work into something and then have people respond to it. It’s been just great!
All right, thank you so much for your time.