Exclusive interview with Jason Trost

Jason Trost is the director, writer and star of movies like The FP and All Superheroes Must Die, as well as their sequels FP 2: Beats of RageAll Superheroes Must Die 2: The Last SuperheroFP 3: Escape from Bako and the new FP 4VZ. From dance dance revolutioning post-apocalyptic battles to scarred and embattered superheroes, Jason has brought some amazing films to the screen. I had a blast speaking with him and was thrilled to learn that he’s a filmmaker that really understands his audience and craft.

B&S About Movies: What does it feel like to make a fourth FP movie? You’ve created your own cinematic universe.

Jason Trost: Yeah, somehow for better or worse. It just keeps going. And now I think I’m just too far deep to quit. (laughs)

B&S: I read that the original idea was that The FP sounded like The OC. And now, a decade later, you’ve outlived that reference and have moved on to even bigger and better Armageddons.

Jason: Oh, absolutely. I feel like with each movie, well, they’re all parodies, so to speak. They’re all satirical, parodying new genres and new movies every single time. So the joke just continues to evolve. At this point, the same characters are almost in completely different worlds every time.

B&S: What movie is it this time?

Jason: Obviously, a lot of Indiana Jones and Star Wars. Then there was definitely the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies, Romancing the Stone, things like that. I definitely want this to be a high adventure, going after an artifact movie. I mean, the two main characters are a man and a woman who bicker with each other about their relationship.

B&S: The first film felt like almost all guys and now it’s a relationship movie.

Jason: I’m growing as a person like the characters are growing. I think that’s just kind of inevitable.

B&S: I’ve always liked spiritual sequels more than sequels.

Jason:  I just don’t ever want to make the same one twice. I think a lot of franchises really get into that problem, where they’ve just started making the same movie over and over again, but slightly different. Yeah, I know there’s a lot of people that weren’t upset that each one wasn’t just like Rocky where it’s like just another guy to beat up. But I’m like, “That’s gonna get really boring after like two or three of these. You can’t do that forever, guys.”

B&S: You’ve grown up with the series, as it’s been twenty years since you really got started, right?

Jason: It’s fully been 20 years now because I was writing the shorts and coming up with the original things way back when I was 16. And now I’m 36. So yeah, 20 years.

B&S: Are you excited to come back to The FP?

Jason: Definitely. Because every time there’s no rules. I can really just kind of do what I want with it. The only rule per se of this franchise is that each one has to be more ridiculous and the stakes have to be higher every time. If I can do that I can pretty much do whatever I want. I think that’s kind of what I’ve built and set up with this franchise. If you’re still here at this point, you kind of know that’s the deal. Every time it gets to be fresh because they get to go on an entirely new adventure. So I’m excited for that. I’m trying to force myself to make something in between The FB four and five. Something that’s completely different just because I’ve been doing these stories for almost 10 years now. I’d like to just take a second, because I also know that if I go in and make the next one, one day I’ll wake up and I’ll be 45 and will have made 20 of these movies. (laughs) But seriously, I just need some space for a second.

B&S: What’s it like to make a post-apocalyptic movie after pretty much living in post-apocalyptic times?

Jason: I was doing the post on three and four during the pandemic and lockdowns and man, it’s just like the apocalypse in slow motion. You sit there and watch it outside and it’s like the laziest zombie apocalypse ever. (laughs) None of these movies really prepare you for it, because it was very tame in comparison to what we’ve watched. I think we’ve all been built up towards something and what we got wasn’t Mad Max. (laughs)

B&S: I loved All Superheroes Must Die but it felt like you were about ten years ahead with that movie.

Jason: I was way ahead on that. But it’s funny, I still get death threats about that movie. A week goes by and it’s like, “Wow, I didn’t get something horrific.” (laughs) And then you get an email that says, “You’re the worst person ever!” It’s pretty comical at this point. That movie was like ten years ago. Let it go.

B&S: I felt like it was fresh and referenced comics like Brat Pack but it’s original.

Jason: I just wanted to make something different. It’s hard to make superhero movies. There are so many rules with the fan base. It’s like you can’t do this. You can’t do that. Like there’s all these like invisible things and I just wanted to do my own thing.

B&S: The violence in the film is way harsher than what superhero movie watchers had seen.

Jason: Yeah, which you know, I always wanted to see because even at that point, I had superhero fatigue. I had it even before the MCU really took off and it was just like, I want to do something different. All my favorite superhero stories were the dark ones that made sense and they mattered and they were small in scale. And once you start getting into saving the universe, I just start tapping out. Some of my favorite superhero stories always were very small in scale, like Batman saves a family or something. They took out one villain. Not like, the whole league of villains and they control the universe and they control the multiverse. Which is great for FP movies because I have so much content to make fun of. But if I’m talking about serious movies, I’m getting exhausted.

B&S: The superhero fatigue is funny to me because if you read comics through the multiple crises and crossovers, you already experienced that fatigue. Like how many times could a character get killed and come back or there are multiple versions of them? Then again, I grew up in the 70s and we had a TV movie Spider-Man and I realize how lucky we are to have these films. But fatigue always sets in on franchises.

Jason:  It’s inevitable. When you release the same movie six times a year, inevitably it’s going to get old to people. It’s interesting because it’s kind of like the most expensive TV series ever made with the Marvel movies, but each episode is in the theater and you only get three or four episodes a year. You can’t just drop in any more. It’s all the same TV series. And I don’t necessarily mean that as an insult. It’s just what they’ve kind of done, it’s like all one movie or TV series. I get that TV shows have good seasons and bad seasons.

B&S: Pop culture has ever had a series like this, because yes, we had James Bond, but the series changed and other actors took over the role.

Jason: I think where they really shot themselves in the foot is branching into TV. I think they needed to keep it special and just keep it in the movies. Because once they’re like, “Oh, to understand this movie you have to watch ten episodes of a TV series.” And I’m like, holy crap, guys. Like, I can carve out time for like a movie every couple of months. But now I gotta watch 15 hours of a TV show? Come on now.

B&S: I feel like that with Star Wars. The period between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back was three years with no new content, but that time gave rise to all these ripoffs and I loved that waiting. And I might love those ripoffs like Starcrash as much as the original.

Jason: It makes it special too, because I feel like when you’re waiting for something, you know you’re getting that fever pitch. You can get into fan theories. But I find when you’re constantly barraging people with new content, it takes away the specialness of it.

It also becomes the kind of entertainment where each movie was once just a single serving. And that was fine, right? And then you already forget it like the next week because just like alright. But now, if I’m watching this movie or this show to understand the next movie or TV show, they’re not single forms of entertainment. They’re pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle. So when you get a quality episode, you’re not paying as much attention or caring. It’s just another episode to get through. You’re not really giving it as much of your time.

B&S: It feels like a responsibility that I have to watch this instead of me wanting to watch it.

Jason: Absolutely. When I see a runtime that’s three hours long…(laughs)

I don’t have time for that. I’ve got like 30 other shows and I’m watching movies. And I just sit there and scroll endlessly and don’t watch anything because everything’s too long. One thing is going to take up three hours of my night?

B&S: Someone asked me if they should watch Terrifier 2 and I asked if they had two plus hours. I grew up when slashers or genre films were 80 or 90 minutes.

Jason: I love it because with those sort of movies, you don’t get all this filler. It’s rare that I see these movies that are over 80 or 90 minutes. And my main note is like the last half an hour and you could see that they were padding out the running time. If you’re familiar with The Simpsons, there’s a lot of times I’m like, “When are we going to get to the fireworks factory?” (laughs)

Back in the 80s, every scene matters. That’s also because back then, people would spend years and years writing these scripts. And now like movies will have a release date before they’ve even started writing the script. So you just have your AI focus group, automatically writing the script, like a writers room programmed on computers that just goes in there and assembles an algorithm of user-friendly marketing-basec content. Two weeks later, you have your script, we start shooting and you’re like…(laughs)

B&S: The big deal of James Gunn’s reboot of the DCU is him saying, “We aren’t shooting until a script is actually finished.”

Jason: That should be a general rule across the board. You’d be shocked because I’ve worked on all these kinds of things. And a lot of my friends have worked on really big $200-300 million dollar movies. They’re never done writing the script! They’re writing the script up until the last day of shooting. It’s constantly just happening and being focus grouped all the way along.

B&S: That’s why I enjoy your films because you’re making something you want to see, not a focus group.

Jason: Thanks, I appreciate that. That’s kind of the motto. We’re like the anti-focus group. (laughs)

I’m making a movie that me and the close people around me want to make. A lot of people aren’t going to like them, but I don’t really care. Instead of trying to appeal to everyone, we’re appealing to the people who like FP movies. They’re going to love these and I’m making these movies for them.

I’m not trying to make FP for everyone. I feel like there are so many movies now where they try to expand their audience and they lose the magic of what they were when they start targeting everyone. Is everyone going to like RoboCop? Probably not. But do some people love it?

B&S: What are the movies that inspire you?

Jason: They’ll come from like the 80s and 90s. Are you asking recently? Because that’s hard. (laughs)

I like all the Verhoeven stuff, James Cameron, some old Arnold movies, 70s sci fi movies, Star Wars and all of the knock offs. Like I’m the sort of person who loved David Lynch doing Dune a lot more than the new one because I thought at least his film had a personality. And a Toto soundtrack! (laughs)

I miss when people made big swings and stuff was crazy. I like being transported to a world where there’s so much creativity and people are really trying to be creative and artistic. As opposed to today, everyone is getting upset with AI generators and basically that’s what the film industry has been doing for the past 10 years. We’re in that now. I like you guys are upset about it now, but that’s kind of just been what we’ve been doing for decades.

B&S: People are just catching on because finally consumers have access.

Jason: It’s just like studios are basically punching an algorithm into a computer. I have my own conspiracy theories, because I know that there are the algorithms out there where your phone can obviously hear you and all that. See whatever your phone sees, you’re going to be targeted with ads.

But we’re getting weird now because there’s something I’ll just be thinking about and it’ll pop up! I’m being tageted with searches for things I haven’t told anyone about and it just pops up and I’m like, “OK, this is getting weird.” (laughs)

Here’s the best part: I have friends who actually grew up in the place I based the FP on and now they’re getting ads for the new movie. They’re actually like targeting people from my past that actually grew up in the town!

B&S: What was it like to work on the Slayer videos for “Repentless,” “You Against You” and “Pride in Prejudice?”

Jason: Those were a blast. It’s surreal. It’s awesome. Like my best buddy BJ McDonnell was directing those. And he was like, “Hey, come on in. Let’s do this. You want to do some Slayer videos?”

I mean, I love Slayer! I grew up on them and it was surreal to hang out with the band and kill people for them. It’s weird because I was in Studio 666 that BJ also directed and he brought me into that. During the shooting of that — I kill one of the Slayer band members, Kerry King — and he was like, “Can I get a picture with you?” And I was like, “This is ridiculous and absurd. Shouldn’t it be the other way around, man?”

B&S: That has to be crazy.

Jason: My greatest performance is not losing my shit in those situations. (laughs)

B&S: You’re in Kazaam. Are you in the Shaquille O’Neal or Sinbad one?

Jason: I was definitely in the Shaquille O’Neal one. (laughs)

Here’s how I know: I was seven or eight and I got in the movie because my dad did the special effects.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is no Mandela Effect. Jason’s dad Ron Trost did the special effects for StarmanGhoulies IVMortal Kombat and a ton of other movies.

It was over the summer so I was making a living and hanging out with my dad, brother and my sister. And so inevitably, in the background, they need kids, Well, we’re here. And even on big movies, that happens, so I have a lot of weird credits when I was young. The case was my dad was working and I was on the set. (laughs)

But like, Shaq, I have stories! One of the craziest stories — and when I tell people they think it’s fake because it’s so silly — is that Shaq was doing one of his first movies so he ended up being friends with everyone on set. And I remember one time where Shaq and I played basketball against like the crew members at lunch. And he actually put me up on his shoulders to slam dunk the ball. I was like seven years old!

B&S: So you’re the proof that Sinbad wasn’t in Kazaam.

Jason: He was not. I am. And I was there with Shaq. (laughs)

I have my own Mandela Effect! For years, whenever that scene in Independence Day happens when Will Smith punches the alien in the face, I swear he said, “Welcome to Earf!”

I swear that when he got famous, they went back in and ADR’d his voice so he says, “Welcome to Earth” because now he’s a successful actor.

It was an inside joke between me and my friends growing up as kids during high school. We went back and rewatched it again, 15 years later, and we’re like, “Wait a second.” (laughs)

I mean, that’s why in the FP movies, Earth is always Earf. Because of that moment!

B&S: I have a weakness for rappers in movies.

Jason: So how are you on Ghosts of Mars? I went back and rewatched it a couple of weeks ago for the first time in like 15 years. I had a whole new respect for it. I was like, this is exactly what I want. I want more Ice Cube. As time goes on, you kind of respect things from the past.

Lately, I feel like we didn’t really know what true suck was. We didn’t know like the corporate soul of suck!  Something objectively might have sucked, but at least it has an identity.

All these movies feel like Mad Libs now. Am I really getting older and just yelling at my lawn? (laughs)

You can check Jason Trost’s FP-4EVZ, a film about a legendary family of rhythm game warriors that must battle their way deep into the future to save what remains of a booze fueled humanity. The film is available  on VOD and digital platforms now from XYZ Films.

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