Last week, after we had a screening of
, we were lucky to be joined by the writers of the film, Van Robichaux and Evan Susser, for a Q&A session, lead by professor James Dutcher, where they talked about their process bringing the film to the screen.
The two friends talked about how they began working together in their early 20s. Though they knew each other in college, they weren’t really friends and only had one class together. It wasn’t until they both were in the Upright Citizens Brigade that they started to really work together. Their first script together was about a college fraternity that wins the lottery.
“It was exactly what you think it is,” joked Susser. They passed it off to everyone in Hollywood that they knew, and luckily, some of those folks passed it on to their bosses. It wasn’t until 6 months later that someone called them and asked if they were looking for a manager or agent still.
“We tried not to freak out, we played it cool, but inside, we were jumping all over the room,” said Robichaux. After they signed on, they wrote a lot, but it wasn’t until 3 years later that they got paid for writing something.
“We did a LOT of spec scripts, and went to a LOT of meetings. We wrote another script that got attention, which eventually lead to us doing a re-write on the live action
film,” said Susser. While working on that script, they met someone who works with Max Greenfield (who plays Schmidt on the TV show
When Greenfield came up with the original idea for
, the duo of Robichaux and Susser came to mind to write it, and so, that’s how they got started on the project.
“We met with Max, and honestly, I was against the idea at first,” said Susser. He thought it was too weird for adults to be fighting. But, once they started talking about it, he realized what the heart of the story was.
In the early stages of project, the two of them were always in room together talking it out and pitching ideas. They wrote a full outline that they broke up into sections that each would wrote. When they finished, they’d swap scenes, and come back to compare notes.
“We used to spend every second writing together. Now, we know better,” Robichaux joked.
Overall, from the initial concept to the movie getting filmed, the whole process took 18 months. They wrote two drafts of the script before Charlie Day came on board, and then started to tweak it for him.
“We made the character more maniac, which is what Charlie does best,” said Susser. They did the same type of re-write when Ice Cube signed on also.
“Ice Cube gave good notes on the script. In fact, one of the things he suggested, you guys laughed at tonight, so it obviously was a good change,” said Robichaux.
Leading up to production, they were writing all the time, tweaking things here and there. But once the cameras started rolling, it was pretty much unchanged. They were on set for a week in Atlanta, but only changed some minor things.
“We also got to meet Tracey Morgan, which was awesome. He told us ‘Oh wow, you guys wrote this? Look at that guy…look at this guy. All these people have jobs right now because you two wrote a movie!’” said Susser.
As for the titular fight itself, they were happy that most of what they wrote made the cut.
“It was a challenge to write it,” said Robichaux.
“We wrote it more like poetry, and gave less details. But then they wanted every single beat of the fight laid out, so we had to make that work,” said Susser. They said they wanted it to be the longest on-screen fight in movie history, and clocking in at just over 8 minutes, it seems they accomplished that.
“We were nervous about seeing it come to life, but it does very much did feel like what we had in mind,” said Robichaux.
“Oh, yeah, it feels like the movie we wrote…so, that’s good, right?” said Susser.
is out now in theaters.