When Peter Farrelly and Charlie Wessler set out to create one of most unconventional and outrageous comedies ever put to film, they wanted to stack the deck with some of the hottest up-and-coming directors in Hollywood. At the top of the list was director Steve Carr (Dr. Doolittle 2, Paul Blart: Mall Cop). “What is “Movie 43?” — it is the side-splittingly funny ensemble comedy starring some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Carr directs on of the hilarious shorts in the film that features Anna Faris and Chris Pratt. The rest of the film features equally talented directors and some of Hollywood’s biggest stars including Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Elizabeth Banks, Kristen Bell, Richard Gere, Dennis Quaid, Emma Stone, Johnny Knoxville, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Naomi Watts, Uma Thurman and even Seth MacFarlane! “Movie 43? is not for the easily-offended and contains jaw-dropping, sometimes shockingly disturbing, but always entertaining intertwined storylines you’ll have to see to believe. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Steve Carr to discuss his contribution the film, the challenges involved, the creation of “The Poop Cannon” and what the future holds for him!
What was it about the world of filmmaking that intrigued you and made you pursue it as a career?
It was kind of a funny journey. When I was young, the thing my friends and I bonded over was film, only we called the movies. I studied fine art from the time I was five years old and was a painter. I went into graphic design and designed album covers at Def Jam. When one of our artists went to jail for brandishing an Uzi and bottle of Cristal and shooting his cousin, I jumped into the music video world! [laughs] I started to direct music videos from there. It has kinda been this weird “Falling up.” When I got into doing the music videos, I didn’t even know how to direct. I just kinda yelled action and cut indiscriminately on my first three videos because I had no idea what the hell I was doing! Eventually, I picked it up! While everyone else was taking the opportunity to show what music videos could be stylistically with dancing and all that stuff, I took the opportunity to tell little stories. I think I always had an impulse to tell stories to my family and friends. Basically, I live my life so I will have a good story to tell! Talking about the past in the present is always great for me! [laughs] I love telling stories, so in the music videos I started telling stories. A friend of mine, Brett Ratner, had made the trip out to Los Angeles and started making movies. He said that if I came out to LA and did music videos for his company, he would get me a movie. At the time, that hadn’t even occurred to me. When I came out to LA, he directed me to Mike De Luca at New Line. The next thing I knew, I was directing “Next Friday” and I was a film director. It kinda just happened and I am a very blessed and lucky guy!
That leads us to latest project, “Movie 43”. How did you get involved with this very unique film?
I had finished “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” and taken some time off. In my own mind, I had decided I had has gone as far as I could go in the world of PG and PG-13. “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” was a really big success story and I thought this was a good opportunity for me to go back, reinvent myself and tell stories that are a little more bawdy and a little less family oriented. I put it out there and at the same time, The Farrelly Brothers were looking for people to do these shorts. I had met them prior to this and I was kind of on their radar and R rated films where on my radar. We just came together! My manager asked whether I would be interested in doing one of these. When I knew they were involved I said “Abso-fucking-lutely!” Then I read it and it was funny! We did a little bit of work on the script and I knew Anna Faris and Chris Pratt were going to be in it. I had worked with Anna before on a movie I produced called “Mama’s Boy”. All of the pieces fell into place! It was a great opportunity to reinvent myself but also have a great time working with people who I find really funny!
You telling a complete story in a short amount of time. Obviously, you have done that in the music video world. What were the challenges there?
Honestly, it was great because you are done in three or four days. I was like “Wow! That was easy. Now, I can go take another vacation!” [laughs] I have said it before but it is like the difference between a sprint and a marathon. When you make a feature film, it is a total marathon. You have a lot of time going into the process. Really, this is the same process but it is sped up and accelerated. You have to make decisions faster and it is a good way to stay on top of your game. It is a great way to really test yourself and who you are as a director. It really went down the way all things do. We worked for a week as opposed to six months for a feature film. Instead of eight weeks of shooting, we shot for four days. The process was still the same from the standpoint of approaching the problems, coming up with solutions and making it funny! It was similar in most ways, except for that acceleration.
What did the cast bring to the table for this short?
From Anna, I expected everything and I got exactly that. She is fearless, funny, sweet and she is improvisational. She brings her own ideas and makes everything really easy. Chris Pratt, I didn’t really know as well. I had seen him on “Parks and Rec” but he is equally as talented. They make a great couple. They are perfectly suited as they are sweet, funny and brave performers! They get along so well together and it made my job really easy.
Where there any unexpected challenges that you ran into along the way?
Well, I certainly didn’t expect to have to create a Poop Cannon! [laughs] That was something that even in the world of family entertainment, I never thought I would have to come up with a poop cannon! I don’t know if you have seen the piece but when you do, it will explain itself. When you see it you will understand.
Oh, don’t worry. I am well versed in the mythology of the Poop Cannon![laughs] Well, then you know I did my job! [laughs] As far as poop cannons go, it is exemplary in it’s use! It’s funny. I didn’t expect to have to come up with that but it was a fun challenge. I really had a great time with it! Funny story about the poop cannon. I was producing a web series and we needed a location. I remembered the location I had shot for “Movie 43” was a really good one and it would work perfectly. I sent the location manager out to go look at it. He came back and told me that they were no longer allowing anyone to shoot on that street because they had to bring in their own private cleaner to clean up after the poop cannon! I ruined location for all of California!
You mentioned wanting to branch out and using this movie as a tool to do so. What type of film are you most interested in tackling in the future?
The film I am working on now is one that I am really excited about. It is an ensemble comedy. It is called “The Wedding Guest”. It is at CBS Films and we are just finishing up the last version of the script. We hope to be shooting it and going into preproduction in the next month or so. It is very funny and very bawdy. It is “Bridesmaids” meets “Love Actually”. That is exactly what I have been working towards recently. I am very excited about the project.
How do you feel you have evolved as a filmmaker since starting out?
When you set on the set for the first time, it is all fear-based. That lasts for a long time. Ang Lee said his main motivation as a director is fear and fear of humiliation. I think we all have that. I think me evolution has been that I now enjoy the process a little more, I have more confidence in working with the actors and the more secure I you become, the more open you are to other people’s ideas. I think I have become a more open director and one who enjoy the process much more. I also think I am much more bullish on finding more challenging material for myself!
That is great! Thanks for your time today, Steve. It is much appreciated and we will talk to you again soon!
I really appreciate you taking the time! Thank you so much!