Published on October 1st, 2010 | by Biz Books
The Biz Interview: David Lawrence and Paul Spence of “Fubar II”
Today, the highly-anticipated sequel Fubar II opens in theatres. In their return to the screen as loveable hosers and headbangers Terry and Dean, David Lawrence and Paul Spence are ready to give’r again!
These two talented Canadian funnymen (who also co-wrote the script) were kind enough to speak with us in Vancouver. Our discussion covered the new film, their creative process, and the challenges of Canadian filmmaking.
Let’s start with the movie. For fans of the first film – obviously there are a lot – what can they expect here? What are the familiar elements that they remember from the first film that they’ll enjoy here and what are the new things that they can look forward to?
David Lawrence: I think the familiar things would definitely be the beer drinking, sort of reckless behaviour. Breaking stuff, smashing things, burning stuff, banger lexicon, swears, crude language, rock ‘n’ roll, metal – that sort of stuff. I would say that the new stuff that they can look forward to would be — it’s less of a traditional mock-doc. It’s more, I would say, a conventional film, with the mock-doc devices used very limitedly and no justification or motivation of the camera. It’s like a mock-doc with the best footage ever – great coverage with an occasional interview. So the mock-doc element’s kind of been pulled out, except for interviews and some narrative beats that we needed to cover.
It’s been 8 years since the first movie. So what was the process like for you both as actors and also as writers for re-visiting the same characters after this many years?
David Lawrence: Well the process as an actor was not really a big deal… Until we went to shoot it, that was sort of on the back burner. In terms of re-visiting the characters, there’s a theatre company that I improvise at [where] occasionally I pull Terry out. It’s a character I know well and [have] been doing since I was a kid, so it’s easy to just pop into it, pop out of it. So in terms of the characters, that was more like “once we’re shooting, we’ll deal with that”.
In terms of writing it, Paul and I just spent three or four months writing out the story and trying to think in simple terms of what would really happen to these guys, if we were trying to look at it in a real [sense] – cause, when we made the first film, it was like “let’s do a story about bangers (and) hosers, but let’s try to keep it more honest.” Not to say there’s anything wrong with [them], but Wayne’s World and Bob and Doug (Strange Brew) are kind of caricatures, and we’re like, “Let’s try to show what these guys are actually like.”
So we just carried that through into the writing of the sequel where we’re like, “What would really happen to Terry and Dean?”
First of all, probably nothing. Like 5 years, 10 years later, what are they doing? Probably the exact same thing… So basically, we’re like, “What would happen to these guys? A girl would get in the way.”
Paul Spence: The possibilities were endless for what a sequel could be. The one that I think excited Dave and I the most was the idea that it was about a girl – how do Terry and Dean deal with that natural progression of life — which is one guy eventually, at a time in a group of friends, gets married or moves in with his wife, and then all of a sudden he’s not around as much? In the context of Terry and Dean, it’s just two guys, right? So it’s basically like the group is over. The second that one guy moves out into the world of girlfriends and domesticity, that relationship as it stood is over, and that interested me from the get-go. That’s what I wanted to see, just because everything that happens to Terry and Dean – anything that happens in the real world is always magnified by 1000 in its ramifications, right?… Everything gets amped up because it’s Terry and Dean. Emotions are something that they certainly don’t talk about. They just act out. So anger is very much anger. Denial is mega-denial. Everything has ramifications.
A lot of writers and directors, it’s their dream to get something into Sundance and launch their careers that way. Just for the sake of re-visiting that, can you walk us through the process of how that came to be in getting the first film made and compare that a little bit with the second one?
Paul Spence: I think it’s like luck times talent plus hard work. I mean something like that. A lot of it was timing. Dave happened to be doing a film with a guy named Mike Douse while Dave was doing this headbanger character… So they were talking on set about it and Dave’s like, “I want to make a movie about headbangers” and Mike Douse was like, “That sounds great! Let’s do it!”
Then meanwhile Mike happened to be cutting trailers for Alliance-Atlantis, so after we finished making this really low-budget film, Mike snuck a trailer for our film onto one of those reels. The timing was that bangers were kind of fermenting. There was a weird buzz about rock ‘n’ roll. Alliance was like, “Alright! We’re going to go with this”.
Then all of a sudden, they’re submitting us to Sundance and then we get in. So how much of that was just will-power and good fortune – certainly some of it – but a lot of it was hard work, too.
David Lawrence: And just committing to the project and being like, “We’re gonna finish it. We don’t know what the outcome is.”
That’s what every filmmaker is – no one’s gonna champion your film, except for you. So we had to do that – to believe to kind of make it happen. The second one was like a totally different ballgame, where it was like we knew that we could probably make it if we wanted to – so once you add that to it, then it’s like, ok, well what do we want to do? We’re gonna take our time and think about it.
To finance the second one vs. the first one was night and day… Even if you’ve directed and made a great film and you want to make another one, that’s a whole other ballgame. You might never get financed. You could spend your life trying to make your second film. The sequel was really easy for the powers-that-be that are looking to make money. You want to finance this thing? OK. So that doesn’t happen. That’s a [rarity], cause you can have a very successful film. Your second film may be impossible to get made.
What do you think are the biggest struggles right now for filmmakers of Canada?
Paul Spence: Making comedies in Canada. Dave’s got three scripts in his mind and on paper. So do I… We are very fortunate in Canada to have Telefilm – they supported Fubar II. They also supported a film (Western Confidential) that Dave and I wrote and Dave directed last summer, but getting money for comedies – there’s not a lot of money out there, but certainly it gets the short end of the stick, I think.
David Lawrence: There sort of seems to be a split – whether the real business is being a service production company to big American films — if that’s the industry — or is the industry [about] going to take our own people and make our own films? A lot of provinces are like, “Screw our own people. We’ve gotta attract the big budgets. That’s the film industry.”
So for me, it’s like I’m totally caught on the other side where I’m like, “We’ve gotta make our own stuff.”
We shouldn’t be focusing on trying to just provide great tax credits, so that I can audition to get 5 days on some big American shoot, as opposed to saying, “Let’s pump money into our own writers and pump money into our own crews and start trying to really get our own industry standing on its own instead of just being a feeder industry to the big American films.”
So for me, it’s like that’s where I think there’s a lot of division… We should be training – we should get as many crews and young writers and young directors. Just start pumping them out… If you compare the French (Canadian) system to the English system, you’ll see a huge difference. It sort of feeds itself and it’s built up its own following. They have gossip magazines that are just for that [industry]. That doesn’t exist in English Canada. You can’t go to the news magazine store and pick up a magazine and read about Canadian stars. You can in Quebec.
Fubar II is in theatres now.