The director of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him To The Greek stopped by for a screening and Q&A of his latest film

Host Jeff Goldsmith recently chatted with writer / director Nicholas Stroller to interview him about the film, Neighbors 2. The discussion revealed fascinating insight on his latest film, his creative habits, and directing as a whole.

On Neighbors becoming a sequel: “There was a graveyard of terrible scripts…”

When asked about his outlining habits: “I tend to do a lot of fast drafts, and then rewrite it a bunch of times…Whatever the best thing was in the draft would stay and the rest would all be tossed out.”

Neighbors 2
On funny, creative arguments between writers: “You have to fight to get the best thing so there were a lot of arguments about how the sorority should party

His advice for getting out of writers’ block: “Write your way out of it. Set a page limit.”

When asked about the clarity of story drive: “You cannot be too obvious when laying out your characters’ goals. Look at the best movies, the goals are always super clear. Otherwise, the audience does not know what to invest in.”

On coming up with the emotional idea: “Fear of arriving at college and being afraid you are not going to be able to fit in or succeed.”

Percentage of improvisation in Neighbors 2: “Usually about 30%-40% improvised, and I yell out a lot of jokes.”

On major changes that made Nicholas Stoller retool things based on improve: “We always go in with a script that you don’t have to improvise at all…Improve doesn’t just bring new jokes, it also keeps actors off their games which brings about a more natural acting style.”

A challenge while carrying out bigger action sequences: “Figuring out a version of a party that was different than the first movie.”

On keeping fidelity to the first movie while also trying to do something new: “That is what made it so difficult and creatively challenging…Start it at the same place and end it at a different place…Different story to each sequel but all in the same universe”

When asked about the amount of rehearsal time: “I always block out two weeks and a few hours each day.”

While talking about reshoots: “Reshoots are incredibly important because you can always make your movie better.”

On what Stoller learned during the test screening process: “A commercial comedy has a to be a certain kind of experience for the audience. If it’s not relatable in the right way and if the emotional story isn’t clear enough for the audience, then you have to know that. And the big thing is you have to know which jokes are working.”

Explaining his take on sitting in with the editor: “I watch the dailies and then I’ll go and watch the scene and give them very detailed notes. I just won’t sit in the room and edit with them.”

Check out the full episode of The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith here.

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