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Jan 24, 2020

Radio Silence is a filmmaking collective comprised of Chad Villella, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, and Tyler Gillet. These three are behind such films as Devil’s Due, Southbound, VHS, and last year’s outstanding Ready or Not. I personally loved Ready or Not, and was really struck at how seamlessly it was able to balance horror, comedy, and tragedy, while being an outright thrill ride of a movie. This was hands down one of the funnest cinematic experiences in years, which made me super excited to speak with these guys. 

They have a really fascinating origin story about how they began their career-making shorts on YouTube for years, finally working their way into the Hollywood system - there is a lot to think about from the perspective of being a collective instead of a solo filmmaker. As the old cliche quote goes: ’alone you’ll go faster, together, you’ll go farther.’ That clearly is the case with these dudes as they’ve kicked the door to Hollywood wide open with Ready or Not and they did it together. 

Really enjoyed this interview a lot, Matt, Tyler, and Chad are a blast to speak to, and you can tell how much fun they have working together. 

There are a number of huge lessons which I’ll recap at the end as always, but one of the most interesting elements of their major career boost, is how they prioritized having fun throughout the course of their career and how was not only infectious on set, but enabled all of them to endure the hardships that come with breaking into the movie making business. All of this, and so much more on today’s episode of The Nick Taylor Horror Show. 

  • Start or join a collective.Just about everything about filmmaking and production is grueling and difficult. Filmmaking is a marathon and the hardest part can be breaking in. By creating a collective, Tyler, Matt, and Chad could withstand the hard parts because they had a support system between the three of them. Having a tight group of friends in your corner, working together towards the same mission and helping you carrying the burden can be a complete game-changer. So try to find or create your tribe - a few places to start would be by taking screenwriting or filmmaking classes, or, hop on over to the BlackList or the Bloodlist and reach out to screenwriters who are writing the kind of stuff that you like. Or, start a podcast. Having a tribe is not only much more sustainable than going it alone, it’s more fun. On a psychological level, people are able to work harder and withstand more hardships if they are having fun in the process. Which brings me to my next point

 

  • Enjoy the process. On their path to directing features for major studios Matt, Chad and Tyler constantly made short movies for nobody but themselves, for no money for ten years. Their shorts primarily lived on YouTube, and eventually got the attention of Brad Miska from Bloody Disgusting, who gave them a segment in the anthology film, VHS. VHS led to Devil’s Due, which they made for 20th Century Fox. The bottom line of their origin story is that kept making stuff and putting it out for the fun of it, with very little expectation of outcome. Because of this, their early work had a purity of vision to it that solidified their directorial style since they were making these movies for themselves. But beyond this, Tyler, Matt, and Chad naturally create a fun environment on set which seems to be infectious throughout the cast and crew. A fun set can make morale skyrocket and enable everyone to be more resilient and willing to work harder during grueling productions because they’re having fun. Try to make sure that you’re having fun throughout the course of your projects - it will carry you through the hard times and make you, as well as your cast, crew and production partners, more resilient, all of which can only make your movie better. 

 

  • Don’t abandon projects - it’s better to make a bad movie than to make no movie. In addition to talent, production value, and resourcefulness, producers value commitment. They want to know you can take a movie all the way. If you have a portfolio of half finished projects, it’s a red flag to anyone investing in you. Finish what you start - even if it’s not perfect, it can prove to producers that you are committed, plus the experience can be a stepping stone for your next project. 

 

 

  • When the chips are down, return to basic principles. After Devil’s Due came out, the guys experienced somewhat of a dark night of the soul. The movie got pretty negative reviews and their phones stopped ringing. For the record, Devil’s Due is a lot of fun and a great watch, but don’t take my word for it, Eli Roth was extremely outspoken about how awesome and scary it was and really went to bat for it. Regardless, after the negative reviews, Matt, Chad, and Tyler, regrouped among themselves and went back to doing what they did best, making movies that they wanted to make, and having fun along the way. They then approached the anthology film, Southbound, with full force, which got them back on their feet, after which, Ready or Not was just a hop, skip, and a jump away. The lesson here is to evaluate what put you on the map in the first place and return to it frequently, especially when the chips are down. For the record, I still think Devil’s Due was a great movie and recommend it.

 

Thank you all for listening and a big thank you to our guests, Radio Silence, for taking the time. If you haven’t seen Ready or Not, you really oughta drop what you’re doing and check it out right away, it is a complete and total blast. 

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