Interview: The Masters Behind READY OR NOT, Directors Radio Silence
The poster, the trailers, the cast and the storyline each hold enough power to draw people to the ticket booth and then to the front of the screen. With that being said, it should be no surprise that we were already convinced that we needed to see this film at Fantasia International Film Festival. Well, we saw it. Then, we saw it again. Then, we chatted with the directors, the three-person team known as Radio Silence. Read below to find out how the team held onto the desire to make this film for five years…and how that the desire paid off enough to make us run back to the theater a third time.
Ready or Not hits theaters on August 21, 2019.
Synopsis: Grace couldn’t be happier after she marries the man of her dreams at his family’s luxurious estate. There’s just one catch — she must now hide from midnight until dawn while her new in-laws hunt her with guns, crossbows and other weapons.
DC: How does it feel when people are watching your movie? I think I sat in front of you guys, and I didn’t want to be a creeper and turn and look. So, I was trying to play it cool.
Radio Silence: I did not move the entire time. I had my hands on my popcorn, but I never took a bite out of it. I just sat there going, “Oh, God!”
It was like, you’re white-knuckling it until you get the first reaction. Then, once you get the first reaction, you say, “Oh, cool. They’re into it a little bit. I think we’re alright.” Aunt Helene’s character got the first laugh, and we’re like, “Alright, cool. This should be a fun night.”
The only other time we sat through it with an audience was during previews. You’re watching it with people that have no context. They haven’t seen the trailer. They haven’t seen any marketing materials, which is a real valuable process, right? They’re a totally dry audience. The movie has to stand on its own. No one has helped shape their perspective in any way. But it worked, even given post trailer release, posters and all of that.
Yeah. There is really nothing better than just hearing the crowd react the way you wanted them to. It is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.
And we were saying last night, things that we didn’t expect to get a reaction to, we were getting a reaction to, which was awesome. That is always the best, where you sort of know the roadmap of where the scares and the laughs are. And then, you see that it’s over-delivering for people. That’s such a great feeling.
DC: How was the casting process? Did you know the actors you wanted ahead of time?
RS: The first piece of the puzzle was obviously getting Sam Weaving involved and tricking her into liking the movie. You sort of cast around that. But it took a minute. Part of it was just the speed and the size of the production. But a lot of the work of that was being done through our producers. And there wasn’t this huge casting team that was hitting it hard. We had great casting directors in Toronto, but that was happening very late. So, it was quick. And thankfully, the script is so specific that if people read it and liked it, you knew that they liked it for the same reasons that we did.
But we were casting up until the week before we started shooting. It was a real to-the-finish-line kind of casting process. But we feel like we really hit the lottery with our cast. Everybody vibed. Everybody got along. Everybody was just down for the experience of the movie. And to be on that tight schedule, and to have everyone willing to go above and beyond, was fantastic.
There was a lot of cast that we didn’t even meet until we were on set, or had the first fitting or dinner. I think that was the big miracle of the movie: that we didn’t have the time to get everyone together and rehearse everything. That we put them together and it worked the way that it did, we can’t believe how it happened. It is a testament to how awesome all of them are.
DC: That is so awesome to hear. From start to finish, how long was the process?
RS: From when we saw the script, almost five years. The first time we saw the script, we tried to get it, and we didn’t get it. Then it came back around to us, and that was probably three years ago in March. Then we got together with Tripp Vinson and James Vanderbilt again and we pitched them our version. And we got it this time. Then, it was a couple years in development and finding Searchlight. And we started pre-production Labor Day of last year, 2018. First day of production was October 18.
It was a twenty-six day shoot, which felt like not enough. But, to the cast and the crew’s credit, everybody made it work. It was a whirlwind, but it was a blast.
DC: How did you all agree on the project?
RS: We just loved it when we read it. It’s one of those rare scripts that you read and you go, “Oh, my God. I want to make this so badly.” We all had the exact same reaction.
“Did we get this? How has this not been made yet?”
We would go to a lot of meetings and talk to a couple of execs and they’d say, “Oh, I read that script. I didn’t really get it.”
We’re like, “What? Holy crap.”
It’s very unique, and we loved it.
DC: This might be a hard question to answer but do you guys have a favorite character?
RS: It depends on the mood. I don’t think that we do.
If you have a favorite, it’s because of how they played off of another character. It’s kind of they just build off of each other, and it snowballs into this big hot mess that it is.
I will say that last night, watching the movie for the gazillionth time, I was still seeing little moments where I didn’t notice something before.
Something crazy happened in pre-production. We were fighting to get the script to a size of something that we could actually shoot within twenty-six days and you obviously have to lift certain things. You have to re-conceive action scenes and stuff like that. One of the easiest notes to give, especially when you have an ensemble is, “Well, we should just cut this character.” When you cut this person out, then we save all of this time. But to the credit of the writing, the second we started even conceiving that in any way, everything fell apart. It was so clear that every character was vital to the way the machine was working. It was impossible to lift someone out and have it be the same movie. We rocked our brains because that is the easiest way to create real estate.
Instead, we cut ten pages of other stuff. And it was the right stuff.
Directors are what make the movie unique. That’s what makes it so fun and so weird.
DC: I have to say that from everyone that I am hearing from, we all really enjoyed the movie. I was sitting next to this girl, and she was getting so scared at some parts, that I felt bad for her and that I needed to hold our hand.
RS: One of our guiding forces was let’s make a movie that we want to see. And then, let’s make a movie for people who want to see it and like it, and not try to please everyone.
DC: Absolutely. Last question, what are your favorite films?
RS: Dream Warriors. People Under the Stairs was maybe the first one I saw as a kid and said, “This is terrifying.” Alien. Dawn of the Dead. The mall that George Romero shot in was the mall that I would go get school clothes.
DC: Guys, thank you so much. This was a blast.
RS: Thank you.