SXSW Film Conference Quickies

A Conversation With Todd Phillips

SXSW Film Conference Quickies
Photo by Jana Birchum

A Conversation With Todd Phillips

Saturday, March 12, 3:30pm, ACC Room 18ABCD

Herewith: a few revelations from Saturday's conversation between Elvis Mitchell, the host of KCRW FM's The Treatment and a former film critic for The New York Times, and Todd Phillips, the übersuccessful 40-year-old director whose oeuvre – from Frat House, Road Trip, and Old School to Due Date, The Hangover, and its upcoming sequel, The Hangover: Part II – explores the apparently limitless ways that young men with arrested social development behave badly.

• Phillips' infamous HBO documentary, Frat House (winner of the Sundance 1998 Grand Jury Prize), which was supposed to have been about the horrors of hazing ("Actually, it celebrates hazing," Phillips said. "They misunderstood it at Sundance."), was never released because of threatened legal action. "They actually had a case because we asked the kids to sign the consents at night when they were drunk or stoned. When we'd ask them during the day, they'd always want to fax them to their attorney dads."

• People always assume that in real life, Phillips is like the raunchy guys in his movies. In fact, he grew up in an all-female family and didn't experience the gross stuff until later. Hence he's always been fascinated by guys' awkwardness with one another and their need to belong to a group.

• People always ask why he doesn't make a female take on Old School or The Hangover: "To that I always say: 'Why don't you ask Tyler Perry why he doesn't work with white people?'"

• Film school's not worth it. Just go to college and take a lot of literature classes.

• And for the record, Phillips is still not over what Mitchell wrote about Old School back in his New York Times days where, in a newspaper his mother reads every day – he called her son's film "sloppy" and "dumb" and "so derivative of Animal House" that it was "like a half-empty glass of Coke that's been sitting out for a couple of days; sure, it looks like cola, but one sip tells you exactly what's missing." That still smarts, said Phillips, despite Mitchell's reminder that he praised Phillips' Starsky & Hutch: "Elvis and I get along a lot better now that he's not writing reviews." – Anne S. Lewis

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