The following is an interview with award-winning filmmakers/writers Gabriel Diani and Etta Devine regarding the upcoming premiere of their comedic film, Diani & Devine Meet the Apocalypse, at the Austin Film Festival. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Diani and Devine about their Kickstarter success, the star-studded cast and crew, what they are most looking forward to about the Austin Film Festival, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: You will soon be releasing your feature film (and Kickstarter success), Diani & Devine Meet the Apocalypse, at the Austin Film Festival this October. For our readers who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the premise of the film?
GABE: Well, it’s a semi-autobiographical comedy about the end of civilization.
ETTA: We play ourselves.
ETTA: Or versions of ourselves.
GABE: Right. We play a sketch comedy duo living in Los Angeles struggling to be culturally relevant.
ETTA: And then the apocalypse hits.
GABE: So we go on the road with our dog and cat in search of a safe place to wait out the fall of humanity.
ETTA: It’s like one of those old Hope and Crosby “Road to” movies meets Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.”
GABE: But funnier.
ETTA: And with less misogyny and racism.
BD: In addition, you will soon be releasing a new trailer for the film. What will viewers be able to take away from this upcoming footage?
GABE: Well, for one, that it’s a real movie.
ETTA: Not one of those fake movies.
GABE: We raised our budget of $100k on Kickstarter, and we feel the trailer is a sign of good faith that we actually made it.
ETTA: Also, that it’s a competently made film.
GABE: It’s difficult to make a bad movie. Let alone a good one. We hope the trailer gives a little taste of the tone, humor, and visual style of the piece to let people know, “Hey, maybe these people know what they’re doing.”
ETTA: Basic competency. That’s us.
BD: The cast and crew of Diani & Devine consist of some truly talented creators and performers. Can you tell us about the process of working with the creative team and the contributions of these individuals?
ETTA: We had an amazing cast and crew. In front of the camera we’ve got lots of talented folks, some of whom people already know and love like Barry Bostwick (Rocky Horror Picture Show), Harry Groener (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Jonathan Silverman (Weekend at Bernie’s), Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: DS9), Kirsten Vangsness (Criminal Minds), and Janet Varney (The Legend of Korra) to name a few.
GABE: Or six.
ETTA: Or six.
GABE: And we also have some really talented folks that people may not have heard of yet.
ETTA: Like us.
GABE: Like us.
ETTA: So much of directing is casting well. And when you have talented professionals like these in your film, it makes your job so much easier. There really isn’t very much time for rehearsal with a low-budget project like this. You need everyone to be able to memorize their lines, show up on time, and nail it in one or two takes so you can move on.
GABE: The crew as well. Everyone needs to know what they’re doing and be able to do it fast and with a smile. Filmmaking is hard, especially at this level, so you really want people who want to be there.
ETTA: Or at least can do a reasonable job of pretending like they want to be there!
GABE: They also need to be inventive when you don’t have a lot of money for equipment.
ETTA: We didn’t have a car mount to shoot inside our car so our cinematographer, Matthias Schubert took an crushed an empty water bottle and taped it to the dashboard and then taped the camera to the water bottle. He pressed record on the camera and our sound mixer Jason Aaron Moran presses record on the mixer, and we drove around doing the scene over and over for ten minutes.
GABE: It takes a village to make a film. The directors get all the glory if it comes out well, but there are dozens of people responsible for making a movie happen. It can go wrong at any time on any level. Every thing is the most important thing on a movie: sound, picture, music, editing acting, writing, directing, all of it. There are too many people to name right now who made this movie what it is but I kind of want to.
ETTA: That’s what end credits are for.
GABE: Yes. That’s their curtain call. Please don’t get up during the end credits of a movie.
ETTA: Unless you have to pee real bad.
BD: What are you most looking forward to experiencing at the Austin Film Festival, and do you have plans to bring the film to other festivals or events?
ETTA: We’ve heard really great things about the tacos.
GABE: Yes. Tacos.
ETTA: Also, the Austin Film Festival has a fantastic reputation and has been on our wish list of festivals to go to for years. They’ve got an amazing screenwriting conference that runs in conjunction with the festival where you get to see writers whose work you really respect talking about a craft you all love.
GABE: Hopefully, while eating tacos.
ETTA: Yes. Tacos.
GABE: But also the joy of watching an audience watch the movie. So much of filmmaking is sitting in a dark room watching the same footage over and over trying to shape it into something that’s not terrible. By the time you’re done, you’re absolutely sick of it. But when you hear an audience laugh at a joke you wrote four years ago and performed two years ago and edited, color corrected, and found the right music cue for over the past two years, there’s nothing like it.
ETTA: Assuming they like it.
GABE: Right. Assuming they like it.
ETTA: We’re submitted to a lot of other festivals as well and hope to have some announcements about our screening schedule in the not too distant future…
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are currently working?
GABE: We’re in pre-production on a series parodying the old Silver Age comic book “Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen.”
ETTA: The premise being Jimmy Olsen is an actual human being in our world who has started a webcam show to complain about his “best boy pal” Superman.
GABE: Jimmy’s not a wide-eyed, teenaged cub reporter anymore. He’s a kind of bitter thirty-something cub reporter now.
ETTA: And he’s realized his relationship with Superman is a little weird.
GABE: Did we mention that the real life Superman will be appearing in this show and he bears a striking resemblance to actor Barry Bostwick?
ETTA: We shot some man on the street interviews with Jimmy while we were at San Diego Comic-Con, and it was really fun.
GABE: We hope to make the series later this year depending on what our festival/work schedule turns out to be.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Diani & Devine Meet the Apocalypse?
ETTA: Well, that they have very discerning taste for starters.
ETTA: They can also watch our trailer, teaser trailer, and our whole Kickstarter campaign on our YouTube channel.
GABE: We did a whole series of “Apocatips” for surviving the end of the world and some other fun videos during the campaign.
ETTA: They can also follow us on Twitter (@dd_apocalypse) or like our Facebook page.
GABE: They can also pre-order a copy of the film at www.ddmta.com!