Radio Silence, formerly known as “Chad, Matt and Rob”, have become YouTube sensations over the past few years with their clever, action (and visual effects) packed shorts. They’re also the writers and directors of one of the segments of V/H/S – a film that breathes new life into the stagnant found footage genre.
I recently sat down with the guys to discuss maintaining the interest of an online audience, how they found their voice as a collective, and what new projects await them after V/H/S.
In the film, “When a group of misfits is hired by an unknown third party to burglarize a desolate house and acquire a rare VHS tape, they discover more found footage than they bargained for.”
Hit the jump to check out the interview! Your shorts, they’re pretty pro-active in terms of narrative for found footage. The ball gets rolling quickly.
Tyler – “We’re really grateful to have our start in shorts, for many reasons. That form of storytelling has to be active all the time to keep people interested”.
Matt – “We talk about that a lot a lot. On the internet, if you lose someone for 10 seconds – you’re done. ‘F*ck this. I’m gonna go look at a cat’.”
Tyler – “So even if there’s a slower pace to a section of your film, you should still be delivering information fairly constantly.”
Matt – “On the internet, what a movie might have 10 minutes to do, you have to do in 5 seconds.”
Chad – “So we try and take that mentality and make something that isn’t totally hyperactive with all this thrashing music and a million cuts per second.”
Is there a common thread that kind of unites your aesthetic?
Justin – “We all love the same kind of movies. ‘The Goonies’ and ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Back To The Future’ and that’s something a lot of people making short form stuff don’t always have in common.”
Matt – “A lot of people doing shorts want to focus on sketch comedy. We wanted to do epic adventures and horror and sci-fi. A lot of stuff that doesn’t play on the internet in theory”.
Tyler – “It’s a desire to bring a fun, movie quality, experience to the computer.”
It’s hard enough for one person to find their creative voice, much less four people working together.
Matt – “I’m in my early 30’s and I don’t think I had any clue what that was until a year or two ago. You think it’s such a simple thing when you hear people say it, ‘of course’. But to really feel it or experience it is really different.”
Tyler – “ We all like the same stuff. If you were to project a movie on the wall here you would record the exact same reactions from all four of us at the exact same moments in the film. The intuition of the group is automatic when we’re working on something.”
Tyler – “There’s also enough differences in the little circles that overlap, in the Venn diagram, there’s enough space in those circles that isn’t overlapping as well.”
Matt – “I love that stuff because that’s when we get in the most arguments. ‘I don’t like that.’ ‘I don’t like that.’ Or, ‘I’ve already seen that’.”
Tyler – “There’s definitely a lot of checks and balances within the group itself that keep the creative process going. We’re not ‘yes’ people to each other.”
Tyler – “It’s also there on more of a technical level, Justin can speak more to the visual effects stuff but one of the huge things that has elevated all of these projects and has made them feel really cinematic is what happens in the visual effects. And none of us except for Justin has any f*cking clue how to do that.”
Tyler -“I come from a visual background, Matt comes from a writing background, Chad comes from a producing background. So there’s all this overlap in the actual process as well that allows us to be an efficient team”.
Matt – “With ‘V/H/S’ we didn’t script anything. We had a beat sheet. And then we found the location, walked through it with the beat sheet and kind of wrote the story in real time.”
Speaking of V/H/S did you approach the producers about it? Or did they come to you?
Matt – “We’d known them for a while. Especially Brad, he’s been so supportive. And he brought us in a couple times a while back and asked for ideas. And then nothing happened for a while and then he came to us very shortly before we were supposed to shoot.”
Matt – “We sent them like 5 ideas, they picked the one we liked the best already anyway. And we just worked on it with them a little bit and kind of melded it into something that was workable and just ran with it.
Chad – “We had no idea what was happening story-wise in the other segments.”
Matt – “Their big note was that they wanted something that was fun, active and action-ey. Something that was really upbeat.”
Chad – “And then the second stumbling block was the budget, because the treatment read like some big hollywood action movie and they we concerned we couldn’t pull it off for the price. But we assured them we could.”
And are you guys preparing other feature work after this?
Justin – “That’s the goal, yeah.”
Would that be in a similar aesthetic?
Justin – “Probably not.”
Tyler – “We love the docu-style, there’s something really visceral about it. Even when it’s used in conventional films. It can really suck a viewer in when used appropriately. But it’s kind of exhausting to solve all the problems that the found footage style presents.”
Matt – “In the horror found footage shorts we’ve done, it’s been an affordable way to work out of our own pockets. Which is a huge draw on the artistic side, but the creative headaches we’ve had, every single person involved has to ask, “why are they still filming?” Among other inherent questions.”
Chad – “We had a great time shooting ‘V/H/S’ though. It’s a found footage movie for people that are over found footage.”
Become a Radio Silence fan on their Facebook page.
V/H/S premieres at the Sundance Film Festival as part of their Midnight Programming tomorrow, January 22nd.