Congratulations to the talented Brener Brothers, whose indie musical comedy The Rumperbutts—starring Mates of State duo Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel, Arian Moayed (Appropriate Behaviour, Rosewater), and Vanessa Ray (Pretty Little Liars, Blue Bloods)—was recently released in theaters and on Amazon, GooglePlay, iTunes, and Vimeo.
About The Rumperbutts: A married indie band duo (Mates of State) regretfully takes a job on a children's show The Rumperbutts. Despite money and success, their relationship turns to one of resentment. On one extraordinary evening, a magical man (Josh Brener) leads them on a path of rediscovery and gives them a second chance at happiness. Featuring original music by Mates of State.
Actor Josh Brener AB '07 (above, left) has appeared on Maron, The Internship with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, and Workaholics. He currently plays Big Head on HBO's hit series Silicon Valley.
Marc Brener (above, right) wrote and directed The Rumperbutts. Marc is also known for his work on Say It Ain't Solo.
Q. Did you always envision The Rumperbutts as a comedy musical, or did you consider exploring the story as a more “conventional” comedy feature with musical aspects?
MB. From day one it was always considered a comedy musical. I fell in love with the movie Once and knew I always wanted to make something like that, but with a few more jokes.
Q. What was the inspiration behind this movie? Did the story come to you first, or were you big fans of Mates of State and wanted to build a story around them?
JB. I’ve been a huge fan of Mates of State for years. I turned Marc onto their music, and he took it from there. And then somehow I got to play drums with them on stage, which was pretty much the coolest thing ever. EVER. (Thanks, Marc!)
MB. I knew I had wanted to make a movie that used music to help tell the story. And having just worked with Mates of State on a short film after being a big fan of theirs for years (Thanks Josh!), I thought I’d see if they were up for a feature. They were. The original story was different than what came to be. The whole idea of selling out was not in the first outline. Something wasn’t right about that first take. And then all of a sudden everything just came together with the new version.
Q. What would you consider the filmmaker’s equivalent of “selling out”? In your respective careers, have you been concerned about having to take a job that wouldn’t challenge you artistically for financial reasons?
JB. I feel pretty strongly that I’m lucky to work at all, so I try not to get too picky or too snobby. They can’t all be Rumperbutts, but it’s awfully nice when they are!
MB. I won’t name names, but there is a pretty big actor who was offered a role in a movie a few years ago from a large producer. The script was supposed to not be the best, but the actor turned down seven figures. Bravo. The producer really wanted the actor, so it became a larger seven figure sum. Once again the actor turned it down. Then finally, it became a much larger seven figure sum and the actor said yes. Now as Richie says—I don’t know if I coulda turned down THAT kind of money. But I feel that is selling out. And the project ended up not the best and if memory serves it did not make its money back. As for taking a job for financial reasons, I feel the same way (as Josh) in that I am very lucky when someone offers me money to write anything. Perhaps one day I will be in a position to turn down things of which I do not have passion for, but no matter what the project, if I am hired, I work really hard to make the best piece of material I can.
Q. How did Arian Moayed and Vanessa Ray get involved in the project?
I had asked my agency if they could tell me a few names of actors who could sing and do comedy. Once I saw both Arian and Vanessa’s work, we sent out offers immediately. Everyone was thrilled to find that they were both available. I truly hope to get to work with them again.
Q. Marc, did you write Richie’s super-funny character with Josh in mind? Josh, did you have any input in Richie’s character/dialogue?
JB. Aside from a couple of on-set improvs here and there, Richie is totally Marc’s creation. I just got lucky that I happened to fit the character description!
MB. Richie was written with Josh in mind 100%. I love writing for Josh.
Q. You co-wrote the soundtrack with Mates of State. Did you write each track with the progression of the movie in mind, or was each track written independently and then incorporated into the script?
In the first few drafts of the script, whenever it was time for a song, I would write a few lines about what the song should be about and perhaps the feel and tempo of the song. Once everyone was happy with the script, I then went back and wrote the first pass of the lyrics for each song and would send them to Mates of State who would edit the lyrics and add the music. Then once I moved to Connecticut, we re-wrote a few things together. It was a great process that we learned together by doing the song for the short film a few years ago.
Q. What would be three key pieces of advice you’d give to someone making his/her first indie film?
1. You get one chance with friends and family for donations and fundraising, don’t waste it - make sure it is an idea you are passionate about and that you don’t want to just make a movie.
2. Don’t give up. There are so many hurdles and complications along the way that at times it will make you question everything. Stay true to what you want to do and try to remember WHY you want to do it.
3. If someone offers to help you in any way, pretty much always say yes. Whether it is with free food or drinks, or an idea to make the movie better, always be open to it. You may hear 99 bad ideas, but there could be that one which makes the movie so much better.
Q. Including your Kickstarter campaign, what was the total budget for the film? Were there any unanticipated challenges in production, given the budget?
Working with a lower budget, you always have to sacrifice. In this case, it meant a lot of last minute re-writing to remove a dog because a dog and trainer cost money, or if we lost a location, we would have to do a quick change or two to accommodate the new one.
Q. How did you come up with the name “Rumperbutts”?
Honestly, I have no idea where that came from. I wrote this in my 175 square foot apartment in California back in 2012, and to this day, I can’t remember where that name came from.
Q. As brothers, what were the best and worst aspects of working closely together on The Rumperbutts?
JB. It was honestly really really fun. We’ve spent the last 30ish years goofing around and doing bits together; it was kind of cool to have that silliness be in service of something slightly more productive than annoying our parents. The only tough part was, um… Marc? Thoughts?
MB. On day one of filming we got to sit together during lunch and just talk about how amazing this was and how lucky we felt to be doing it. It’s also pretty great having someone there that you have know for thirty years. It feels good. Comforting. As for worst aspect—sometimes I just wanna hang out with Josh, but he’s busy getting prepared or I am being pulled away to do something else. So we just hung out after instead.
Q. Do you guys anticipate collaborating again on an upcoming project, and seriously, how proud are your guys’ parents?!
JB. I sure hope so! Just depends how my audition for Marc’s next movie goes.
Our parents are pretty over the moon. They’re just about the most supportive parents imaginable… we’ve always been very lucky in that regard. Just don’t let them read this, it’ll go to their heads.
MB. That is the plan! Up next is 2 Days In Texas where Josh will be playing Ricardo - a dental assistant. Audition pending of course.
As for our parents, they are very excited. It’s fun. They did so much for us our entire lives, so to be able to make them laugh or have them at a premiere, I feel that makes us even.