Interview: Party Time Party Time's Morgan Lord and Marty Schousboe

Kickstarter's a hot, controversial website these days, right? Here's an interview with two Chicago-based writers and performers, Morgan Lord and Marty Schousboe, who have together written and directed Party Time Party Time, a feature length "melanchomedy" film featuring a cast of 60+ Chicagoans. There's less than a week remaining on the Kickstarter that Morgan and Marty set up to aide with the final costs of producing the film. These two (along with the massive cast and crew) really seem to be going for it, and I highly recommend pledging to the Kickstarter if you're able!

The Steamroller: Where'd the idea for the movie come from? 

Morgan Lord: Marty and I were actually working on the script for another movie. It was rather dramatic and difficult. We were taking a walk in Lincoln Square trying to get inspired, feeling a bit bogged down by our script, and then it hit us. We should embrace the bits and the silliness. We should showcase all of the hilarious people we know. We should make a party movie.

TS: Have you and Marty worked together before?

Morgan: We went through iO classes together and were a part of a Harold team at iO called Inkling. In 2011, we formed a sketch group called Sweathearts, and since then we have been working on making a movie. We share the same sense of humor, anxiety about life and need to make stuff and we know how to be honest with each other, which is important.     

TS: The Kickstarter goal you've set of $21,500 is a fairly specific one, how did you land on that number?

Morgan: We were really calculated and realistic about this figure—we took out a calculator and went through each expense. We spent quite a bit of our own funds on set dressing, props, and food for the cast and we included those exact numbers into the budget, but the majority of our goal will go toward the post-production costs, including sound mixing, color correction, music and festival entry fees.  Kickstarter also takes a percentage and we had to figure in how much it would cost to provide all the rewards we are offering. Postage adds up quickly.

We have been so lucky that our cast and crew donated all of their time and energy for free, and I really think that’s a trait of this specific Chicago community—they are all givers who work their butts off and want to be a part of something wonderful.

TS: What sort of films and other creative works did you draw inspiration from when writing and shooting PTPT?

Morgan: When we originally thought about the idea of a party movie, we of course thought about Can’t Hardly Wait. We loved the fast pace of Go. And probably most importantly, we love the sensibility and bits of Wet Hot American Summer.

We were really inspired by the city of Chicago as well. We wanted to show off how pretty it is, so when we weren’t in the party house, we were sure to film what we find to be the prettiest spots in the city—the sky line, the lake, the trains, the boulevards.

TS: The cast for this movie is sizable, especially compared to most other independently produced films with relatively small budgets. Why'd you decide to tackle an ensemble picture like this one rather than something with a more modest cast?

Marty Schousboe: To be honest, we thought it wouldn’t be the hardest thing in the world to get all these people together to shoot this movie. We thought that we'd take our time and shoot it piecemeal.  That's not really what happened. We had a hard time keeping the movie’s cast as small as it is, really. We wanted to tell a truly ensemble story. We recognized eventually that it would be an stupidly enormous obstacle, but we decided that it was something that we should tackle to differentiate ourselves. "Why is no one doing this? Because it's nuts. Let's do it!"

Morgan: It was the whole catalyst for the making this movie. We truly wanted to include everyone we know in this community, and then we scaled it down to 60 committed people who continuously make us laugh. It’s amazing that casting was so easy—in this community, we have so many talented performers who are excited to give their time to a project like this. Scheduling was a different story.

A more modest cast would have made a lot more sense. We had a steady crew of 6 and a cast of 60. Because everyone works and performs, scheduling did sometimes mean shooting from midnight to 5 a.m. It was wacky— we lost hair and got sick—but somehow we all made it work and it was worth it.

Marty: I've also gotta say that there are a lot of people that we would have loved to join the cast as well. But this monstrosity could only be so big.

TS: You've described the film as a "melanchomedy," What it is it about the blend of comedy and drama that drew you to making this sort of film rather than a straightforward comedy? 

Morgan: Marty and I have always been drawn to sadness and comedy, in fact, our first sketch show was our attempt at writing the saddest show we possibly could, and it got a surprising amount of laughs. (You can see a review of the show here) We think it’s important to laugh about the sad stuff in your life. This movie is a combination of hilarious bits and sad and sometimes pathetic storylines. Like us Sweathearts always say, despite all the sad stuff in life, you can choose to be happy.

Marty: It really is a comedy, but we wanted to get people in the right mindset before seeing it. It can be pretty heartbreaking at times. HOPEFULLY. HOPEFULLY YOU HAVE SOME FEELINGS.