AMERICAN RESCUE SQUAD: Chat With Director Elliot Diviney
With comic book movie comedy American Rescue Squad hitting DVD May 19, we thought we’d ask writer-director Elliot Diviney that important question : Who would win in a fight between American Rescue Squad and Mystery Men?
How did this project come to be, Elliot?
It was the summer of 2011, and I was about to release my second film, “Potpourri.” It looked like my film company was about to go bankrupt, so I wanted to do one final film before the Diviney Pictures ship sank to the bottom of the ocean. We were less than a year away from the 2012 presidential election, so I decided to take my frustrations out on politics. That’s when American Rescue Squad was born.
How long did it take from idea to screen?
I wrote the screenplay with my brother Adam in the summer of 2011. We filmed early the next year, and had our first screening in October 2012. We wanted to be out before the election, so we raced into production. Our crew did this film in about half the amount of time as the others we’ve done. Much like the way SNL is done, we never really had the time to second guess our jokes and ideas. There’s something relieving about that.
In terms of casting, were these actors you knew or did you go the traditional route of casting?
The other producers and I had ideas about actors from working with people on past projects. The film community in Minneapolis is very small, like a high school. Everybody sort of knows everybody else. We then had a big casting call, with only a few different roles for people to read from. We basically cast the whole movie off of that.
Can you tell us where the movie was filmed – there’s some beautiful locations in there!
It was filmed all around the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Almost all the cast and crew is from there. Most of them have moved away since then, including me (I’m in LA now). We filmed a number of locations at a hotel in Plymouth, MN, as well as an office building in St. Paul, and some friends’ houses and apartments.
And the costumes. Who conceptualized them and who created them!?
We had a wonderful costume designer, Hannah Eustis. I had never really had a costume designer in the past, and had done all the shopping for costumes myself at thrift stores and halloween outlets. So this project was a real treat. Hannah came up with some designs based on the script, and we went with them. She had a lot of experience putting together wardrobe on a small budget. She pretty much had the style nailed down right off the bat. We are very thankful for Hannah’s participation.
Did you worry at any stage you might get sued by Marvel or DC – some of those outfits come very close to looking like certain other character attire! Haha!
A lawsuit from Marvel or DC would be great publicity! There are so many superheroes out there, that it’s hard to come up with a costume that doesn’t resemble something you’ve already seen. Our movie was particularly difficult to do because it was a satirical take on existing superheroes. We wanted our characters to be colorful and easy to identify, but tried to separate them from all the other superheroes by what they say and how they behave.
Which one is your favorite?
My favorite Marvel or DC franchise? The Avengers is at the top of my list. I’m dying to see the Age of Ultron. Avengers broke so many filmmaking rules and is one of the most fun experiences I’ve had at the movies, ever. It was particularly rewarding because Marvel had been building towards the event for years, and pulled the whole thing off expertly. It’s such a large story with so many different layers.
Why should audiences see American Rescue Squad?
Because it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen! If you are fed up with politics and legal shenanigans, than this movie is for you. If you think both political parties suck, then look no further! If you like South Park and Monty Python…should I keep going?
And what can we expect in the sequel?
I took a page out of Kevin Smith’s page, and have made movies that all connect, but are not necessarily sequels. I imagine you’ll be seeing some of these characters again, although hopefully in a new context and atmosphere.
Who would win in a fight : Mystery Men or the American Rescue Squad?
The Mystery Men have weapons and their own inherent powers. The heroes in the American Rescue Squad are only as powerful as the good will of the people, so it really depends on the time and place of the fight. I would like to think they’d team up to fight some bad guys and then all go out for a beer…
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