So, what was the experience of shooting this? How many days did you have?
Gustafson: We shot for 24, so four six-day weeks.
Was it a lot of fun? All work? All of the above?
Cohen: All of the above, yeah.
Williams: It was fast, fun, and frantic. It was crazy, but an amazing time, and really fun. I'm still haunted by the cicadas in that scene. I guess every 17 years cicadas are born, and we were filming at three in the morning when the cicadas were born. So everywhere you stepped, you sunk about a foot, and every time you turned, there was a cicada flying at your head.
Cohen: It was amazing.
Williams: It was amazing and frightening beyond all belief.
Are any visible in the film?
Gustafson: Oh yeah. If you really look…
Cohen: They're on people's bodies.
Williams: The funny thing was we were all shocked and so tired from that night, and we were like, how are these even going to turn out? Are they going to turn them into little fairies? But that scene is one of the most beautiful in the movie. It turned out amazingly, but like our sense memory of that scene is just 'Not in the face! Not in the face!' (laughs)
Cohen: And the smell of them burning on the lights…
Williams: Oh yeah, they all died. And they were all squirting stuff on us. I don't want to explain what they were squirting. But it was one of those things where we were filming and all of us were like, 'Oh… my… God…' because we had to do this scene. We had to get it all done. And none of us knew what it was going to turn out like. And the first time I saw that scene in the theaters, it was so shockingly beautiful. Everyone always asks 'How'd you get the moon in that?' It was so beautiful to see the finished product and I didn't even notice until the end of the movie, and I was like, 'Holy shit, that's where the bugs were.' (laughs)
Cohen: I think that, in retrospect, it was pretty great timing. Because rarely do we go out into the woods and play and run around, but… call me a hippie, but having that direct connection with the bugs and the environment around you was really great. It's a dream. It wasn't a nightmare. And it wasn't necessarily a fantasy love dream, and it put us all in a very different element or being in touch with something that we weren't really before, and having to think about being touched by these things we deemed gross and sticky, and that's kind of what it was about. In the moment, I was kind of like, 'This is sick,' but…
Gustafson: No, but I think that was a major key in bonding of the entire crew and cast, too, because I just watched some of the behind the scenes footage for the first time. I've never seen any of it until last week. And there's a ton from the woods, and it was a horrible, hellish… it was pouring rain on two of the nights. Everything that could go wrong was going wrong, but yet it gives you more energy. Like we're going to do this, and we have to step up to the plate right now because we can't miss a day. On an independent film, we can't just shut down and shoot later. So there's a really exciting energy that it brings.
Cohen: And everyone's kind of like freaked out.
Williams: But enjoying the freaked out. Like, all the cast was sharing this one trailer, and we were so hot and frantic and we loved it, but if you opened the door, it looked like there was some weird fairy orgy going on. We're al like silver and white, with glitter, laying all over each other sweating, and when we went outside, one of the women had a cicada fly into her mouth? And you're trying to lip-synch and sing, but at the same time you're like, 'Don't come for my mouth.' It was wonderfully frightening, but we were all laughing about it by the end of the day. When you're just in a circumstance where everything was beyond your control, we all just had to laugh it off. It was like 90 degrees in the middle of the night, we're all sweating and passing out all over each other in this trailer, and that was the only respite we had from the cicadas. So, you found your moments to really bond. And the cicadas were as old as I was, because they said every 17 years they come out, so that was the other joke, too. I was as old as these cicadas that were making everyone crazy.
Most of the actors in this movie got to play two roles, but you two are the two who didn't.
Williams: That's true, actually.
Does having a cast playing gay and straight roles in the same movies lead to a lot of interesting deleted scenes and outtakes?
Gustafson: I wish it did. This film, we really used every single, damned minute that we shot.
So, whatever the budget was, I saw it all on the screen…
Gustafson: Yeah. Which is good, but I think we were lucky enough to go through a process in the creating of the script and getting to the shoot that let us cut things that were extra baggage already. When you have to do a musical in 24 days, you have to figure out what's important, and what do we shoot and what can we spend time on.
And it's not a traditional musical where somebody has some sort of tag in dialogue and everyone breaks into song. The music is woven pretty delicately into the fabric of the script.
Gustafson: We really tried to make it a point that we didn't want to just make a musical where people break into song. All of the numbers were supposed to drive the story forward. When Corey was adapting the lyrics for the songs, it was all about story. 'What needs to happen right here? OK, let's make that a musical number, but we have to tell this story.' All of those musical numbers were story-driven.
Cohen: And it's made very clear from the beginning of the film, in the first musical number there's no vocals or lyrics or anything. It's pretty obvious that there's an orchestration, even when no one's singing, there's an orchestration throughout the whole piece. So then when people do start singing, I think it just fits better, as opposed to, like you said, a cue and then a note kicks in.
Is there something tangible that comes to mind when you think 'this is the kind of movies I make…'?
Gustafson: I think music is definitely important to me. Movies are nothing without music. Every movie I make will be driven in some way by music.
And what was your coming out story?
Gustafson: I came out when I was like 20ish? Like, came out to my parents. I was out to other people way before that. My coming out party was right after college, really. It was a mixed bag. Some family members are still coming to terms with it, which is their own journey. That's what's interesting about the words coming out. It's not just me that came out. It affects everybody in your life, and everybody has to come to terms and have their own journey. Now my dad had to deal with his quote-unquote coming out as much as I dealt with it, and with that comes all this silly baggage, because of our society.
And you don't have a coming out story?
Williams: No, I'm very much like my character. Heteroflexible is a term I find hilarious but not really suitable of me. (Everyone laughs). No, I mean, I did the same thing with my parents and my dad ended up using it in a comedy routine. I'm not gay. I consider myself bisexual if anything. And with my family, I think my mom was like, 'Alright, cool…' And then my dad made a joke at my expense every time I had a friend sleep over that was a girl, so… that was about the extent of mine.
Which I guess is to be expected with your dad.
Williams: Oh, sure. Dad's had to deal with many people thinking he's come out multiple times, so there you have it. He went with a dear, dear friend of mine that's basically my older brother to Gay Ski Week once and, of course, that was viewed nationally as dad coming out with his lover, which was not the case. Once you played a woman and a gay couple in Miami, it was no big deal at all. Although I did not appreciate the comedy bit, that was a bit too open I think.
So when dad's a comic, you don't get veto power over appearing in the act as material?
Williams: I was dating a guy once and he decided to introduce that relationship on Letterman, and I was much younger than the boy I was dating, so it was very not fun. He mimed taking out a shotgun, so, no, I don't get any veto power. Needless to say, that relationship did not continue.
So, yeah, I was just really taken by the movie. I found it to be really well done, and I just hope it finds a lot of people and does well for you.
Gustafson: Thank you.
Williams: Thank you very much.