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Brian Petsos discusses filmmaking, inspiration and a surprising love

Revenge for Jolly!
02 May 2014

GeeksofDoom say its “a cross-breed of Superbad meets Pulp Fiction meets Cheech And Chong punctuated with gratuitous and gory violence.”

Harry (Petsos) is having the very worst kind of day. Deeply in debt to the wrong kind of people and harbouring thoughts of skipping town, he returns home from an all-night drinking binge with his cousin, Cecil (Isaac), to discover his little dog, Jolly, has been brutally murdered.

Broken-hearted and beyond consolation at the loss of the only source of light in his desperately bleak and solitary existence, Harry vows to track down the culprits and exact unmerciful revenge upon their sorry asses. Armed with an impressive and deadly arsenal of firepower in the boot of their car, the two cousins embark on a frenzied, alcohol-fuelled orgy of violent retribution, leaving no stone unturned in their search for the canine’s killer.

The Fan Carpet‘s Marc Jason Ali had the pleasure of talking to writer and lead actor Brian Petsos about why he chose a career in filmmaking, the inspiration behind Revenge for Jolly and his suprising love of New Jersey based reality television…



What drew you to a career in filmmaking?

I would say that I didn’t want to be a barrister at Starbucks (laughs).

No, I was briefly in a film programme at school and then I ended up getting into a lot of Fine Art disciplines, and eventually found my way back into making films.

I was studying at Second City in Chicago, and started performing and toying with the idea of making my own films, so when I moved to New York, I was so determined to make my own films and I didn’t care what the length was or how much they cost, I just wanted to make films.


Where did the inspiration for Revenge for Jolly come from?

Oddly enough, I had a Miniature Pinscher, that was, sort of lost to me in a relationship (laughs), yeah the dog, in the fit of an argument was taken, and the anger from that was a sort of loose inspiration.

But the idea of something, which to some people is quite insignificant, a small dog, is as good of a reason as any to launch into such a fit of revenge, was sort of the basic premise, so that was the root inspiration for the film.


Do you have a connection to a pet like your character?

Unfortunately I don’t have any pets right now, I would love to have a dog but I would be a terrible parent at the moment, so I’ve decided to let all the animals be free from me.


Had you always envisioned yourself in the lead role?

Actually, to be honest with you, no, I had envisioned myself in the Cecil role, which was played so beautifully by Oscar Isaac and the Harry role to me was much more of a challenge, the stuff I’ve done prior to Jolly has been so overtly comedic, so the idea was to play this guy as straight as possible. And as sort of as close to the chest as possible, very restrained and all these things, so that was a really big challenge for me. Personality wise I’m more of a Cecil; we had a very specific idea for that character and we went with it.


The cast is incredible, can you talk about the casting process?

Yeah, absolutely, the primary cast, I think were the first group of people to get the script and really gravitate to it were Ryan Phillippe, Elijah Wood and Kristen Wiig and Bobby, they were all kind of friends, and Gillian as well; I had done another film with her, so that process happened organically, that initial group. And when they were all attached, the rest of the cast just fell in place quite easily.

We had worked with Garrett before on a project, we were really blessed to have people like David Rasche and Kevin Corrigan and Brody, I had done a film with him before, so it was a quote unquote friends and family kind of a thing. All really organic, and everyone just coming to the table to do something really raucous and to me a really specific creative endeavour.



Do you have any specific memorable moments from making the film?

Oh, so many! So many! Yeah, I do remember, the day that we actually shot the funeral scene; which what remains of the scene is actually quite different from what we shot, you know, we were so steadfast and we didn’t want my guy to play up to any of the humour.

So the day of the funeral, I had worked myself up to balling and crying for eight hours and none of that actually made it into the film, but I couldn’t stop crying all day, and I know I’m dying with laughter now, but I knew that in terms of trying to make the humour from a philosophical stand point as truthful as possible, it was like ‘alright man, you’re gonna have to cry all day’ and in retrospect that’s really funny to me.


Will any of that make it on to the DVD?

Unfortunately, I’m not the guy that pulls the strings on that sort of stuff. If I were that guy, you can believe that I’d have jam packed it full of a crying reel.

There were other times in the film where I was crying, and those didn’t make it into the film either.


Are there any genres that you want to tackle that you haven’t yet?

It’s funny, I don’t consider myself a genre writer, this project is entirely different from other features that I’ve written, it was a very specific thing and it just happened really quickly.

Structurally, it’s also very risky it has a risky structure to it; it’s sort of a string of pearls structure, not a traditional three acts.

That being said, there are certain genre things I would like to tackle; a Sci-Fi/Rom-Com that I’ve been developing, it’s basically a romantic comedy set on a space station, that kind of blending of genre is always really appealing to me.

I think you do see a bit of that in Jolly, Jolly to me is kind of a love story, as sick as that sounds, so I think that kind of melding of genre with other kind of elements.


You’re collaborating again with Oscar Isaac with Ticky Tacky, can you tell us more about it?

Oh yeah absolutely, Ticky Tacky is basically a thing that I wrote and directed and the idea was that we would do it as sort of a chamber piece, that was kind of the specific rule of the piece; so it takes place and is confined to one really magnificent location and Oscar plays a very wealthy, very powerful man who is unfortunately quite wronged by people close to him.

I have a friend who saw a rough cut of it, who said it was his favourite Oscar Isaac performance. So coincidentally we just uploaded the trailer for it this morning, and it will be having its festival debut very soon, so I’m really excited about that.


What are you a fan of?

I’m a big fan of pizza and french fries! Although I know I should be drinking more cold pressed juice, oddly enough, I’m actually in a cold pressed juice phase right now, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

TV stuff, I don’t wanna be a jerk but I tend to specifically watch things that are on HBO, Also I think AMC does some really great stuff.

And then, this will be really surprising, I try to get a really healthy amount of any reality show featuring anyone from New Jersey, is also a staple of my TV diet.

My Production Designer wouldn’t stop cracking on me about that, but I’m proud of it, so any reality TV send it my way.



Revenge for Jolly Film Page