Dave Franco Video Interview “The Rental”

Dave Franco-Writer, Director “The Rental”
“The Rental” IFC Studio

Dave Franco, the actor in classic comedies “Superbad” and “Neighbors,” has transitioned to writing and directing in his first feature film, “The Rental.” I interviewed Franco in 2013 at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago for his role in “Now You See Me.” We chatted about our mutual friend, who grew up near him in Palo Alto, CA, and discussed the stigma of being known as James Franco’s younger brother. As you can see from our recent Zoom video interview, so much has changed in seven years. Dave’s aptitude and serious cinematic talents are brought to the forefront in his new film, “The Rental.”

He’s made numerous smart choices in constructing his first film, for starters, the character-driven script—followed by casting Allison Brie, his talented wife, and Dan Stevens, the English actor ‘The Beast’ from “Beauty and the Beast.” He also garnered notable performances by “Shameless” actor Jeremy Allen White and Sheila Vand of “Argo.” “The Rental” follows two couples as they plan their get-away weekend via an online rental company similar to AirBNB—being covertly filmed by the creepy homeowner was not part of their plan. The stunning coastline setting four hours south of Portland, Oregon, drew them into a gruesome living nightmare.

Sarah Knight Adamson:
Yes, the film is very scary and appreciated the story elements that you incorporated, the love triangle, and most definitely, the diversity piece. Could you please talk about your vision for the film?

Dave Franco:
Yeah, so like you said, it’s more than just a typical thriller or horror movie that only relies on cheap jump scares. Our goal from the beginning was to write a movie that felt like a relationship drama. What we wanted to do was make it so that the interpersonal relationships between these characters were just as thrilling as the fact that there’s a psycho villain lurking in the shadows. At its core, it is about these characters and their relationships, we sprinkled the horror elements on top of that, to help accentuate the problems that they’re going through.

“The Rental” movie still. IFC Films

The racial issues that we touch upon are based on friends of mine who have experienced racial profiling when trying to rent a home on one of these apps. And it was important for me to include in the film, and we use it in a way to create immediate tension between one of the renters, who is of Iranian descent, and the homeowner who’s white. And it’s a moment in the film where everyone else in the scene feels uncomfortable because they are forced to acknowledge that their friend, played by Sheila Vand, was likely a victim of racial profiling. They can’t ignore that anymore. And so it does feel very relevant to what’s happening right now.

Dave Franco and Alison Brie ArcLight Cinemas Pop-up Drive-in. Los Angeles, USA – 18 Jun 2020, ArcLight special advanced screening of independent thriller THE RENTAL Credit: Photo by Michael Buckner.

Sarah Knight Adamson:
How cool is it that your movie opened at a drive-in? I have to tell you that I saw the Exorcist back in the day at the drive-in.
Dave Franco:
No way, how was that? What’s your memory about that?

Sarah Knight Adamson:
Terrifying. And at a really pinnacle scary moment, the speaker fell off our car window and into the car. I jumped up and hit my head on the top of the car.

Dave Franco:
That’s incredible, that must’ve been a fun one. It was such a good time. I mean, it’s definitely not what I imagined for the first public screening of my film, but in a lot of ways, it was better. Most premiers are a little bit stuffier, everyone’s in suits and fancy dresses, and I always feel a little anxious just because of the red carpet and all these cameras in your face. And so, this just felt relaxed and it didn’t feel like there was a spotlight on me or the rest of the cast.

It more felt like a communal experience where it was a bunch of people who have been cooped up in their houses, and we were all coming together, and it’s a bunch of movie lovers, and it was a really nice, unique experience. And everyone kept telling me this is the first drive-in premiere ever. And so no matter what happens with the film, we’ll always have that.

Sarah Knight Adamson:
Oh, that’s just so cool. And wasn’t there a Q and A afterward? Which I thought was really awesome.

Dave Franco:
Yes, so we did a Q and A through Zoom, where all of the actors were in their cars, and we were all on Zoom, and it would go up on the big screen so everyone could see and hear us.

Sarah Knight Adamson:
Well, that’s unique, on four screens as well.

Dave Franco:
Yeah, definitely, definitely. It has never been done. Yeah, people didn’t even know what Zoom was four months ago, so I can’t imagine that anyone’s done as Zoom Q and A at a premiere like that before.

Dave Franco:
Four screens, yeah. We took over the entirety of the Vineland Drive-In, and it really was surreal. I knew that everyone was excited about the event, but once I got there and I could really take in the magnitude of it and just how many cars were there, it definitely made me nervous, but it also was like, oh wow, this is a really special experience, yeah.

Dave Franco and Sarah Knight Adamson – Zoom Video Interview, “The Rental” July 15, 2020.

 

Sarah Knight Adamson:
What do you enjoy about directing?

Dave Franco:
I enjoy so much about directing. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, and what can I say? I mean, I obviously love to work with the actors, I’m very sympathetic towards actors, and just to be able to see all of their different processes and try adjust and really cater to the different ways that they like to work.

And I love working with my wife. She’s so talented, and being in a position where I was now watching her for five straight weeks, I just realized that she’s one of the best. She’s one of the best out there, and we just get along really well to the point where we just want to collaborate on everything now, and we’ve now written a new script together in the quarantine. So hopefully, that’s next.

Sarah Knight Adamson:
Oh, fantastic. I want to thank you so much for chatting with me today, and best of luck with the film.

Dave Franco:
I appreciate it, thank you.

Dave Franco Chicago-Pennisula Hotel, Interview “Now You See Me” Sarah Knight-Adamson Photo Credit 2013

Click here to see Dave and Sarah’s Chicago 2013 Interview “Now You See Me” https://www.sarahsbackstagepass.com/dave-franco-interview/

Sarah Knight Adamson© July 23, 2020