With the release of Unfriended on DVD and Blu-Ray this week, we caught up with one of the film’s stars Jacob Wysocki to talk about his role and the film and what it’s like working on such a different sort of horror film.
In case you missed it when it was in theatres, Unfriended is a cool and original new horror film that place entirely within the confines of a Skype call between a group of high school friends being haunted by the spirit of a girl they drove to suicide.
How did you first find out about the film and get involved with it? What did you think of the final product?
Unfriended came into my life like most projects. I auditioned for it and everything fell traditionally into place. I’m very proud of the finished product. I think the concept was what drew me in the most and I was pleasantly surprised that it actually worked out. I knew the Skype idea would either work effortlessly or it would fall flat on its face. I’m very happy that it was the former option.
How did you feel about the general response to the movie?
It’s pretty overwhelming. When we first made the movie we truly didn’t think we’d get a wide release, let alone a release as big as it was. I’m happy to see young kids connecting to the cyber-bullying aspect of the film. Maybe they’ll think twice before they post negative things online. Other than that, it’s been a trip having international viewers comment things on my instagram in languages I’ll never learn!
Even within the found-footage genre, Unfriended is a different sort of film – how was that on your end? What the filming process like?
The filming process was one of a kind and probably the biggest draw for me deciding to be a part of the project. We filmed the entire movie in real time. We were all connected on a faux Skype like program, hardwired into each others computers so there was no video/sound latency. We would do these long takes, sometimes filming the whole hour plus in one take. That made it very tiring, but also led for a more organic believable performance from the cast all together. I don’t think any of us will ever film something like that again.
Did this process make you feel isolated from the rest of the cast? Was there anyone on the cast you ended up riffing with?
I was certainly isolated. Everyone else filmed inside this nice air conditioned house in Santa Clarita; however, I was shoved into a back shed on the side of the house. It was very hot and smelled like a dad’s workshop. I also had a nest of baby birds in my shed. They became my closest friends on set. But, in reality, we could all communicate on the faux Skype program so we were looped in at all times. A lot of the movie was improvised, so the dialogue felt fluid and real. There was tons of riffing. Moses Storm and I sometimes do improv shows together now, so if you want more hot riffs you’ll have to catch us live.
A lot of your filmography leans towards comedy, how did you find horror?
I think horror typically exists in a grounded world, which Unfriended does. When weird/unusual/cybernatural events occur I think the horror naturally comes out because you’re breaking from the grounded reality the movie is based in. That leads to heightened emotions and genuine scares. I think that it’s the same for comedy as well. Two people exist in a grounded reality until something unusual happens and that creates the comedy, just like unusualness causes tension in horror.
How much of your character was sketched out by the script? Did the writers and directors give you much room to improvise and expand on Ken’s character?
Ken was created as a small homage to Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Jurassic Park. I wanted a nerdy intensity and I always wanted to smoke cigarettes, which ended up being an e-cig to “millennial” the homage up. Ken was always the comedic relief so all I had to do was find my take on him.
Like any horror film, Unfriended has some pretty extravagant death scenes in it – do you have a favorite? How was the experience of filming your own death scene?
I personally like my own death scene. I guess that’s the human ego’s fault. I think it’s pretty brutal and unexpected. It’s also the first time you see the wrath of “Billie.” The only thing I could think about when I was filming my death scene was how happy all of my ex-girlfriends will be if they ever see the scene.
Can you see yourself returning to do another experimental movie like this? Not necessarily a sequel/prequel but some sort of follow up – do you have any thoughts on how a follow up could take things further?
I’m always looking to do new things outside of my comfort zone and that seem conceptually stimulating. That being said, I don’t think I would rush out to film another Skype movie. I’ve tackled that concept and would be looking for concepts or characters that are a radical left turn from something like Unfriended. I’m sure in the next two years we will see a Skype movie comedy! That’s Hollywood, baby. If an idea makes money: make more money with the same idea.
What’s next for you?
You can always find me on the internet, my new friends! youtube.com/petergilroy has about 150+ sketches you can watch that I’ve made with my sketch group: Bath Boys Comedy. I’m also on a Harold team at UCBLA. And you can find me charming mothers all over Los Angeles, making them think I’m worthy enough to date their beautiful daughters.
Unfriended is out on DVD and Blu-Ray today.
You can also follow Jacob Wysocki on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jacob-Wysocki/608347569277654