A Conversation Between the Producers
So you wanna know how this crazy movie came about? There was
this movie that came out called KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE. It was an
anthology comedy - a bunch of individual sketches of just the most
outrageous stuff you ever saw.
It literally changed the face of film for me. There was stuff
in there that made me go, "I didn't think you could do that."
Yeah, it was that way for me, too. There was this scene where
they had these "Catholic school girls", and they're in the shower with
their boobs up against the glass - now that I look back it was
childish, but I just thought that was groundbreaking and funny and kind
of sexy all at the same time. I'm like Pete - I was, like,
"We could do that?" Or more, "I need to do that."
There also hadn't been a movie made up of shorts in that way either.
That's right. We had grown up on television variety shows,
where things were segmented in one way or another. But you
never went to the theater and saw it.
So there I was a few years later, thinking "I'm gonna do something like
that." But not exactly the way John Landis and the Zuckers had done it
with KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE -- that had one director, one set of cast
members and one set of writers, all doing every sketch. This
would be different, with different writers, directors and actors in
each short. Well, ours, at first, was going to have three
sets of filmmakers -- the Farrelly Brothers, the Zuckers (AIRPLANE!)
and Matt Stone & Trey Parker (SOUTH PARK), each doing 1/3 of
the movie. They all agreed, and we set it up at one studio --
this is about 12 years ago -- but they dropped it, mainly because they
figured they wouldn't be able to market it to teenagers if it was
I'd take it around and pitch it to people over the years, but everyone
would say, "No, it's not going to work." Then I brought it to
a good friend, a producer named John Penotti, who's produced 20
independent movies in the $2-3 million range, very successfully - and
our budget was going to be about $5 million, so I knew he'd know how to
make a movie like this.
He really became an equal partner with us, both financially and
creatively. Oh, and by the way, how do I know
Charlie? He'd been producing most of the Farrelly Brothers
movies, ever since DUMB & DUMBER.
And now I'm not so sure about John either! (laughs)
So anyway, I talked to Penotti about it, and he decided to finance some
scripts. Once we'd have scripts, I wouldn't have to just
pitch this thing, I'd have something to show people. It took
about ten months, but then we had 20 scripts, six or ten pages each,
which would make it easier for people to understand.
So I started calling agents and friends, just got the word out that we
were looking for scripts. I just told people that I wanted
something that was insane, crazy and funny.
You were also saying that it didn't have to be funny, we just want
outrageous, unusual stuff. Because we didn't want it to be
limited to one kind of joke.
Yeah. Like the one Griffin Dunne ended up directing,
"Veronica/CVS." It's this moment in time between these two
people. Some people laugh, some people are just engaged in
So I got the word out, and over about a year's time, got in TONS of
scripts -- literally thousands of submissions, I'm not kidding you.
They came in the form of treatments, scripts and phone pitches.
And these were people you hadn't even met before, right? They
just had agencies sending in stuff.
That's right. I'd say 95% of them I'd never heard of in my
life. We even had actors calling to pitch ideas - all kinds
of people calling me. Well-known people from TV and
film. A lot did not make it into the movie, unfortunately,
but some of them were very funny. Rainn Wilson wrote one that
was very good, but, at the end of the day, we ended up just not having
enough money to do every script that we loved.
Then we got Rocky and Jeremy.
Yeah, Rocky Russo and Jeremy Sosenko, who kind of became our core
writers. I was talking to these two managers, and they had
just signed these two guys from Second City Chicago. They
called me to see what I was looking for -- I found this out later --
they had called from the side of the road driving two cars from Chicago
to L.A., because they had decided it was time to move to L.A. and
become professional writers. They'd never been to
L.A. That began our relationship. And they must
have submitted 20 different scripts. And what's great is, I
could call them and say, "So-and-so wants to do one, but they don't
like the scripts we have for them." And they would go and write
hilarious stuff in two hours.
The next step was getting some big actors signed on. And we
really wanted people who you don't expect to see doing outrageous
comedy like this. And the funny thing is, they wanted to do
it, because it was short -- just two days out of their schedules, where
they're not doing the same kinds of things they always do.
They could step out of themselves and make people laugh.
I started sending scripts around to agents and calling them and saying,
"Here's 15 scripts. You decide what you want to submit to
your clients." Everybody at these agencies were a little shy going to
their clients with this INSANE material. So we had to get a
couple of friends to get them onboard first.
Hugh Jackman was the first guy to sign on. I had met him at a
friend's wedding. And we needed an actress, so we called Kate
Winslet's agent, Hylda Queally, who's a really wonderful and open to
two nitwits calling her. A lot of agents were terrified of
this thing, but people like Hylda totally embraced it and thought it
was funny. They knew it was tricky, but also that it could
turn out to be really funny. She gave it to Kate, and a
couple of weeks later, she said she'd do it.
And once we had them onboard, and Pete had shot their short, "The
Catch," we had something to show people, and then they were
almost chomping at the bit to get to do one. It was
great. We invited the guys who run Relativity Media, Ryan
Kavanaugh and Tucker Tooley, to our editing room to view it, and they
totally got what we wanted to do. Ryan just said, "Let's make
It was really all about schedule with a lot of these people.
Charlie would call them, and they'd say, "Yeah, I'd love to do it, but
I'm in the middle of a movie. I can do it in nine months,
next September." And he'd just go, "Fine, we'll see you in September."
That's why this film took four years to make -- it wasn't sitting on
shelf somewhere. We'd get who we'd get when we'd get them,
and that's how it worked.
It was the same thing with directors. John Penotti, Pete and
myself made lists -- we had lists of hundreds of actors we wanted, and
we had lists of 50 directors. It was just insane.
We looked at our favorite directors, but it was the same thing as with
the actors, some of them just weren't available. It's not
like with an actor, who can slip in a day or two to do it. A
director's shooting, editing, mixing. But eventually, we got
some really great people.
And it's funny, you'd think it would be harder to make people laugh
when you've only got seven minutes, versus an hour and a half for a
regular feature comedy. In fact, in some ways, seven minutes
is easier, because you don't run out of steam. You have to
shoot it and get the hell outta there, because you don't have much time
with these actors.
But it all starts with the script. If you have a funny
script, and you are true to that script and faithful to it, and you
find funny stuff on the day when you're shooting, you're gonna have
funny shit. And these guys all ran with it and came up with
some outrageous shorts.
Tell them where the name MOVIE 43 came from. Cause it was,
for a long time, just called "Farrelly/Wessler Untitled Comedy." And
then one day, Pete calls me up and goes, "I got a title! I got a
title!" I go, "What is it?" He says, "MOVIE 43."
Oh, yeah. So I'm driving my son and his friends home, and
they were about ten, and I'm listening to them talking. And
they start going, "Did you see this on the internet? Did you guys ever
see MOVIE 43? I perked up, "MOVIE 43?
What's MOVIE 43? He goes, "Oh, it's this great movie, it's
online. It's supposed to be crazy, it's nuts!" Well, they'd
never seen it, and it turned out it didn't actually exist.
But the name stuck in my head.
We talked about it for months. And then Rocky and Jeremy came
up with this idea of the kids sitting in a room, and one of them says,
"Hey we should see MOVIE 43." So that's how it came about.
And now. . . you should see MOVIE 43.
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