Interview: Dave Franco on ‘The Rental’ and His Future Projects

written by Jasper XIII.VIII

Dave also spoke with Slant Magazine about shooting The Rental, collaborating with Easy producer Joe Swanberg, his future directorial plans, and more.

Is there a specific inspiration for The Rental?
The idea was inspired by my own paranoia about the concept of home sharing. The country is as divided as it’s ever been, and no one trusts each other, yet we trust staying in the home of a stranger simply because of a few five-star reviews online. And in reality, while we were shooting the film, there were new articles coming out every week about homeowners with hidden cameras in their place. And I still use all of the home-sharing apps. In fact, I stayed in an Airbnb while shooting the film. I was trying to explore this disconnect where, even though we’re all aware of the risks of staying in a stranger’s home, we still do it. Why do we subject ourselves to that knowing we’re potentially putting ourselves in danger?

How did you end up working with Joe Swanberg on the film?
I wanted to write the film with Joe because his main strengths lie in characters and relationships. Our goal from the beginning was to create a tense relationship drama where the interpersonal issues between the characters were just as thrilling as the fact that there’s a psycho killer lurking in the shadows. At its core, the film really is about these characters and their relationships, and then we sprinkled a horror element on top to help accentuate the problems that they’re going through. But when there are issues in your own romantic relationships, that can be as scary as anything else, even physical danger from a psycho killer.

What directors stand out who may have helped you the most in terms of taking the leap from actor to feature film director?
I’ve been lucky enough to work with a handful of really, really great directors—people like Barry Jenkins, Noah Baumbach, Seth Rogen, my brother, Phil Lord and Chris Miller—and the biggest thing I took from that whole group of them is, in general, they all create very safe, comfortable environments on set where they really encourage everyone to voice their opinions if they think that it will help the film in any way. And so, essentially, there are no egos on set and the main rule is the best idea wins, no matter who it’s coming from. I definitely tried to adopt that mindset for my film as well.

You immediately establish tension between the two brothers with an allusion to a possible infidelity, and this tension methodically builds to a breaking point. I know you’re a fan of clever genre films, so I’m curious whether there are any ones in particular that inspired you to capture that tension on screen.
Ari Aster, Jordan Peele, Sean Durkin, Amy Seimetz, David Robert Mitchell, and Jeremy Saulnier are all making projects that are so nuanced and atmospheric. Their films take their time to creep up on you, as opposed to a lot of horror films that rely too heavily on cheap jump scares and, ultimately, feel disposable. I was lucky enough to convince Sean Durkin to produce my film, and he ended up being somewhat of a mentor to me, giving me the confidence to make a horror film that didn’t have many jump scares. He would remind me that we had a compelling story and there was enough inherent tension between these characters that we didn’t need to push the horror, that it was all simmering under the surface and that we could just let it build and naturally come out over the course of the film.

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August 13 Press The Rental

Interview & Scans: Dave Franco for Variety

written by Jasper XIII.VIII

Last month, Dave spoke with Variety to discuss his directorial debut, The Rental, along with his journey to fulfilling his lifelong dream of being in the director’s chair. Check out outtakes and scans in our gallery!

VARIETY – Dave Franco has long struggled against being labeled the “kid brother” type, from the time he was an unknown growing up in Palo Alto, Calif. 

“My first job was at a mom-and-pop video store when I was 14, and I’ve always looked young for my age,” says Franco. “People would come in wondering why this 9-year-old-looking boy was renting them ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and ‘Basic Instinct.’”

Deceptive looks aside, he still was not of legal age to work. “They paid me by allowing me to take home as many movies as I wanted. That became my film school,” he says.

That early training, along with some 13 years of professional acting, finally brings Franco to his lifelong dream of the director’s chair for “The Rental,” an IFC Films title that, when it hits on July 24, will represent one of the few summer theatrical releases amid the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a moment 20 years in the making, some of Franco’s lifelong colleagues tell Variety, one that he has achieved through relentless curiosity on the job. Much of his experience was earned alongside his brother James, whose career has stalled amid sexual harassment allegations from former students, which the older Franco denies. 

Known affectionately as Davey to friends and family, Dave Franco has been no one’s little brother for quite some time, and this breakout as director is the next phase of the evolution. Franco has delivered breakout comedic performances in films like Nicholas Stoller’s “Neighbors” and empathetic dramatic turns in work like Barry Jenkins’ “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “The Disaster Artist,” directed by James. He’s also quick to remind that he began his career as a creator in the digital space; he wrote, directed and edited comedy shorts in the early days of Funny or Die while he was studying at the University of Southern California.

“I felt like I could take huge risks because the worst thing that could happen is that no one would watch them,” Franco says. “But because I was taking big swings and making unique choices, I started to gain a bit of a following. Over time, I realized that my videos that went viral had more viewers than the indies I was acting in. That was gratifying, and made me want to take the next step into writing and directing a feature.”

His entry into directing arrived with the help of Joe Swanberg, the longtime indie filmmaker who cast Franco on his Netflix original series “Easy” in 2016. On that set, the two discovered similar artistic sensibilities and a love of horror movies. 

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Dave Franco Discusses ‘The Rental’ and Praises Alison Brie

written by Jasper III.VII

Screen Rant spoke with Dave about his directorial debut, The Rental, and he took the opportunity to praise Alison Brie’s acting talents!

“I’ve obviously always known that Alison is a great actor, but when I was behind the camera and I was able to just kind of contently watch her for five weeks, I realized she might be the greatest actress on the planet… I have a little bit of a bias, but I can’t imagine doing this without Alison.”

Dave also complimented the other cast members, Sheila Vand, Dan Stevens, and Jeremy Allen White.

“I think most people know Sheila from A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, and she’s obviously incredible in that film. But what really made me want to work with her was a smaller movie called We The Animals. She has so much range in that film, and I knew that she would be perfect for this part.

Sheila, when it comes to the more intense, dramatic moments – like the stuff that I would lose sleep over – we would come up on that day of this really big scene, I’d be like, “Are you ready?” And she’d be like, “I think so.” And the first take, she’s just bawling. She’s so in it… I’m so happy to have worked with her. She has so much range. I can’t wait to see what else she does.”

“I think Dan is so good at playing a villain… I think certain actors, when they’re playing a villainous character, you immediately hate them. You’re not rooting for them. But I think Dan has so much fun that when I watch him in this movie, the more he does immoral things, the giddier I get. I’m like, “Go Dan, go!” I think that’s a huge compliment and a tough thing to pull off, and I also give him props for playing these more immoral characters in the service of the whole story.”

“Jeremy is one of the most naturally gifted actors I’ve ever seen. He is literally incapable of having a false moment onscreen. I remember hearing from every other actor at some point in the shoot, just talking about how easy it is to be in a scene with Jeremy, because he’s so locked in. And all you need to do is just give yourself over to whatever he’s doing.

We’d be behind the monitors every single day, I swear to God, and we would look at each other and be like, “Why is Jeremy not the biggest actor on the planet?”


July 03 Press The Rental

‘The Rental’ Advanced Screening & Official Trailer

written by Jasper XIX.VI

As previously announced, an advanced screening of The Rental was held last night at the Vineland Drive-In. Dave was joined by the lovely Alison Brie and the film’s other stars Dan Stevens and Sheila Vand, all the while practicing social distancing. Check out photos in our gallery, and the official trailer below!

‘The Rental’ Preview Event

written by Jasper XIII.VI

ArcLight will be hosting a special one-night pop-up at the Vineland Drive-In on Thursday, June 18th at 8:30 PM. An exclusive advanced screening of The Rental will be held at the event, followed by a conversation with Dave Franco afterwards. Admission will be $55, and you can purchase tickets through Eventbrite.

VARIETY – “It’s an ArcLight one-night pop-up, and we’re really trying to take the best elements of an ArcLight experience and bring that to the Vineland,” says Vincent J. Szwajkowski, chief marketing officer of ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres, the company that oversees plush indoor experiences in Hollywood and elsewhere and the Vineland, the one surviving outpost from the long-distant days when Pacific was an almost exclusively drive-in chain.

All four screens will be showing Franco’s film, and the Vineland’s normal snack bar will be closed for the event. “We are bringing in ArcLight crew members from our Hollywood location [to serve] complimentary ArcLight caramel corn” as well as standard popcorn, Szwajkowski says. Admission will be $55 a carload instead of the drive-in’s usual per-person pricing, which could lead to a resumption of the car trunk-stuffing of old, or at least some very crammed SUVs. With the snack bar closed and only the free popcorn being served, “for the first time ever, ArcLight is breaking its rules and allowing outside food and beverage brought in,” waiving all prior anti-In-‘n’-Out rules.

“Actually,” he says, “we were actually planning on doing an ArcLight one-night pop-up where we were going to show an older film. But as we started to have conversations with IFC, they graciously agreed to partner with us on this pop-up and give us the advance screenings for ‘The Rental.’ And the best part about that for us is being able to have the Q&A, which is so quintessential a part of the ArcLight experience. So we’re really excited to have pivoted from doing something that was more of a retrospective night to a more kind of in-the-moment, advanced screening version.

IFC Films Acquires ‘The Rental’

written by Jasper X.IV

IFC Films has acquired rights to Dave’s directorial-debut, The Rental, and has scheduled it for release on July 24th!

DEADLINE – IFC Films has acquired U.S. rights to The Rental, the thriller that marks the directorial debut of Dave Franco. The film stars GLOW‘s Alison Brie, Downton Abbey‘s Dan Stevens, Jeremy Allen White (Shameless) and Sheila Vand (A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night). Pic will be released July 24.

Scripted by Franco & Joe Swanberg from a story they hatched with Mike Demski, the thriller begins as two couples embark on a weekend getaway to a seemingly perfect house they’ve booked online. What begins as a celebratory weekend for the quartet turns into something far more sinister, as secrets they’ve kept from each other are exposed. It also becomes clear they may not be alone in the house.

Alison Brie & Dan Stevens to Star in Dave’s Directorial Debut ‘The Rental’

written by Jasper XII.III

Dave will be behind the camera on his next project as he makes his directorial debut in the horror film, The Rental. His wife, Alison Brie, and Dan Stevens are set to star. Sending the best of luck to Dave! We’re sure you’ll do great.

DEADLINE – Dave Franco is set to make his directing debut with the horror thriller The Rental, and Alison Brie and Dan Stevens will star with Sheila Vand and Jeremy Allen White. The film will be fully financed by Black Bear Pictures, which is producing along with Franco’s Ramona Films. Shooting begins April in Oregon.

Franco & Joe Swanberg wrote the script. Producing is Ramona’s Vince Jolivette, Elizabeth Haggard, and Dave Franco, alongside Black Bear’s Ben Stillman and Teddy Schwarzman. Joe Swanberg and Chris Storer are also producing and Black Bear’s Michael Heimler is executive producing along with Sean Durkin.

The Rental is a character-driven horror thriller about two couples who rent a vacation home for what should be a celebratory weekend get-away.

Franco confirmed for Deadline and said he “couldn’t be more excited about partnering with Black Bear and to be working with such an amazing group of actors for my directorial debut.”

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Behind the Scenes
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Posters
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Variety - July 14, 2020
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Session 001 - Variety
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June 18 | 'The Rental' Advanced Screening
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Entertainment Weekly - July 2020
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