Slacker 2011: John Bryant Overdoses on Conspiracy Theories


Slacker 2011

In celebration of Slacker's 20th anniversary, local filmmakers are re-creating scenes from the Richard Linklater movie for Slacker 2011, a fundraising project benefitting the Texas Filmmakers Production Fund. The trailer is now available. As we await the August 31 premiere, we're chatting with some of the filmmakers participating in one or more of the short films that will comprise the project.

Today's interview is with John Bryant, a local filmmaker who seems to specialize in jaw-dropping scenes. Most recently I was delightfully stunned by The Good Neighbor, a short he wrote that played SXSW 2011. He expanded his 2006 short Momma's Boy into the feature The Overbrook Brothers, and is also responsible for unleashing the short film Oh My God upon us, which played AFF in 2004 and Sundance in 2005, and is now available online for your viewing pleasure (warning: it's not for the faint-hearted).

Slackerwood: Which scene from the film did you reshoot?

John Bryant: I think the segment we reshot was officially called "Conspiracy A-Go-Go" -- in the original film, it's the part where the guy (John Slate) is talking about all the JFK assassination conspiracy theories.

What made you interested in re-creating this particular scene?

I thought the scene had a great energy and humor to it and John Slate did such a fantastic job with his performance and he felt so authentic ... I just kind of gravitated towards it. Also, I felt like I could update the scene in an interesting way while still staying true to the original spirit of the scene -- so, I decided to make it about 9/11 instead of JFK. 

What do you think your challenges have been in re-visiting this scene?

Basic stuff. Writing the script and finding the right actor to play the part. As far as script goes, I basically spent two weeks online "researching" all of the 9/11 conspiracy theories and watching all the video documentaries I could find on the subject. I watched Loose Change, Loose Change Second Edition, Loose Change Second Edition Recut, Loose Change: Final Cut, Loose Change 9/11: An American Coup -- I think there's at least five different "Loose Change" movies -- Between The Lies, Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura, Alex Jones: 911 The Road To Tyranny ... and the list goes on and on. I wanted to shoot myself in the face after spending 3-5 hours a day watching this stuff. 

Anyway, culling all this information down into a concise script form was a challenging, but it was fun. And, of course, finding the right actor is always the most important job a director has; I just had a gut instinct that told me that Chris Trew would be perfect for the role. So, I asked him to do it, and thank God he said yes. So, we worked on creating the character together and did a few hours of rehearsal ... and the rest is history.

Did you work on any of the other scenes by other filmmakers in addition to your own?

I helped out a little on Jay Duplass' segment (which precedes mine). [Slacker 2011 interview with Duplass]

Could you share any connections or memories related to the original Slacker you might have?

I was born and raised in Austin (or just outside of Austin). So, Slacker is more than just a film to me. It represents a part of Austin's history and serves as a sort-of time capsule that embodies the Austin I knew in the late 80s and early 90s.   

Can you tell us about any projects you're working on now/next?

I'm writing a few things ... hoping to get a project off the ground early next year. 

[Photo courtesy of John Bryant]