Overzet: How did you first get in to comedy?
Peter Atencio: I've always been interested in it and a lot of my shorts in high school and college were comedic, so when I moved to L.A. I just gravitated toward funny people. I got a job in L.A. at a movie theater called The Arclight Cinema. I met a lot of great people working there who were just poor kids that just loved movies and making movies. And our group of friends and I just formed a group of filmmakers and called ourselves "The Six".
We made a feature where five of us directors each made a segment, and it's an interweaving tale called Night of the Dog. We sent that out to a bunch of festivals and it started doing well and we won some audience awards. There was a comedian named Jonah Ray who worked at the Arclight and had seen some of my work and we hit it off and became friends. In 2006 he got a deal to do a series for a website, and he approached me and said, "I'd like you to direct this idea that I have for these shows." We ended up writing them together and then I directed and edited. It did pretty well on the website and after that I started getting offers from comedians to work on stuff with them. Then I just started doing web based comedy ever since.
O: Who's the most interesting person you've ever gotten to work with?
PA: I don't know it's always an interesting experience, because there's always a question of "are they going be cool?" We are very guerilla. When I shoot stuff for The Midnight Show, it's like me and a camera and one guy running sound and maybe someone to help out with lights. We're pretty down and dirty. I have a very particular way that I like to work, so I think that for some people they're expecting a real production and that's just not how I do things because on those shorts there's no money and we just got to get it done.
The person I'd say was the coolest and the most willing to do whatever the fuck we asked him to do was Andy Richter. This was right before The Tonight Show was about to get started and we did three shorts with him in one day. In one of them James Adomian is sucking a fake dick that Cale Hartman has and they were just really raunchy ideas, and he didn't bat an eyelash and was a really great sport. And that's more than I can say for other people that I did stuff with.
O: For those who haven't seen or heard about The Rig, what do you think audiences can expect when they are going to rent or buy the film?
PA: [Laughs] Ultimately it's a fun movie. I think that was our biggest concern was we just wanted to make something entertaining and even if you're not a fan of the genre, which is a sci-fi thriller, we tried to put something in there for everybody.
The script is not the best script in the world; I'll be very honest. We tried to inject some heart and give you some characters that you care about and not piss you off because of how stupid they are. We tried not to jam-pack it with really boring exposition. A lot of times what I hate in creature movies is how much time they spend on what government cover-up happened. And it's like, you know what, if it's killing people, all you really care about is surviving. So, it's a fun survival thriller that takes place over one night on this oil rig.
O: Well, you talked a little bit about the government cover-up. How do you feel about the topicality of your film in relation to the events that have recently occurred in the Gulf?
PA: It's interesting because obviously we didn't think there was ever going to be anything like that because we shot the film in 2007. I have mixed feelings because on the one hand it resulted in more attention on the film and it's showing up on more people's radar, and because of the subject material and topicality it's something for movie blogs to say "Speaking of oil disasters here's another disaster on the rig." We've been perversely grateful for it [on] one hand because it's increased exposure on our tiny budget film.
On the other hand, our experience working in the Gulf of Mexico on some of these oil rigs and working with some of the people in that industry couldn't have been better. They are some of the nicest and most welcoming and genuine people you will ever meet. We're very sad that they're going through such a hard time. We hate the fact that their image has been so tarnished, because ultimately they're just reacting to consumer demand and there's just a ton of oil down there. And the fact that 11 people died on that rig that were really just hard-working rednecks, I think gets overlooked a lot.
O: What's next for you?
PA: I have a few things coming up for funnyordie.com. I constantly have stuff going on with them and I really love being able to work with them. They're amazing because they let me do whatever I want. I'm currently working on another feature that I can't say too much about. And I'm also working on a live-action pilot for Adult Swim.
O: What kind of details can you give about the feature?
PA: The feature will probably be another thriller, but there will be comedy in it as well. It's going to be a little bit tough to define, which could be detrimental to it. I love the visual style to thrillers, but I also love doing funny things as well so it's probably going to combine elements of both.
O: Is the show for Adult Swim going to be in their usual quick-witted 15-minute format?
PA: Well, it's the same producer who's doing Childrens Hospital. So it's very much that style, but not as absurdist as Childrens. Adult Swim is doing incredible things that are similar to the British format which is five half-hour episodes in a season and sometimes that's all there is. I think that a lot of times when you're trying to fill 22 half-hour episodes like in the American format, a good idea can get stretched thin in that amount of time. So to do 10 or 15 minute shows is the perfect length of time for the majority of comedy ideas, because if you do any more than that I think it can get kind of tired.
O: Can you give us any details of what that show is going to be about?
PA: I can say that if you like X-Files and Fringe and comedy you will like this show.
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