In 2001, millions of people went to see Super Troopers for the first time. Similar to American Psycho, it became an instant cult classic and subject to repeat viewings by mega-fans, earning Fox Searchlight Pictures $90 million in revenue.
We had the opportunity to interview “Thorny” Jay Chandrasekhar, co-writer and director of Super Troopers, on his craft, the film industry and, of course, what fans can expect to see at his upcoming stand-up show Wednesday, June 26 at the Scottish Rite Theater.
CM: What was your writing process like when writing the script for Super Troopers?
Jay Chandrasekhar: We were driving back from a wedding in Vermont and saw a guy pulled over by a cop, and we toyed around with the idea of how people like to sound tougher when they tell cop stories until they actually get pulled over by a cop and they turn into a total wussy.
CM: How instrumental a part has living in L.A. played in your career's success?
JC: If you really want to produce movies you need to be in Los Angeles or New York. I would say Los Angeles would improve your odds dramatically over New York. And when people say they don’t want to move to Los Angeles, I tell them you don’t have to be in show business.
There are lots of people living in Los Angeles that have made the decision to live in a place not as nice as Austin or other places, but everybody who is directing movies, acting in movies, producing movies, they all live here; and so you have to be here too if that’s what you want.
CM: Do you prefer working in television or film?
JC: I started in movies, and after we made our first film, I got hired to write a television pilot — and I love it. It’s a terrific experience in a sense, because you’re on a much faster schedule. It’s fun to have the immediacy of it all.
CM: Tell us one interesting fact about the film industry that we might not know.
JC: You never actually make it, or get there. It’s a never ending ball that keeps moving and rolling away from you. Super Troopers was fun and everybody loved it, but when it was done it’s that immediate feeling of “what now?”
We talked about making Super Troopers 2, and then the question, “Can we make a great sequel or would we ruin the first one?" It’s all about the journey, and just like life, the excitement of making the movie is over once production wraps. Then you just go around and promote it and drink!
CM: What is one piece of advice you would tell somebody getting into the industry?
JC: If you want to provide for your family maybe show business is not a high degree of success. You will need to keep your day job until you make it, and know it’s an odds thing just like the NFL. I personally wouldn’t recommend anybody to go into this business. The people who actually continue on are the ones that actually end up making it. You have to be a self-generator. You have to find out if you can be a writer and director, and if you want to produce you have to pow-wow around town with both money people and writers and be able to put the two of them together!
The funny thing about this business is there’s this huge wall that sort of dominates everything but the truth is there is a hidden level of people who want to invest in movies and don’t want to go through the studios. There is a market out there for non-studio generated movies. Having a major studio buy your script can be great, but studios buy a lot more scripts than they produce.
CM: When did you get into stand-up comedy, and what can your fans expect to see at a show like at the Scottish Rite Theater?
JC: I have done stand up for a while, and my favorite standup comedian was Richard Pryor. I also love Eddie Murphy and Steve martin. I simply tell stories, stories about my life, the movies. Ninety-nine percent are real and one story isn’t true.
I like to get people involved making the atmosphere feels like you are at a bar with your friends telling stories and jokes. That’s the vibe I give.
CM: Finish my sentence: You cannot make it in Hollywood if you do not have...?
JC: You have to be a blind fool! You have to say, “I don’t care about the odds, I’m going to make it.” Be as smart and strategic as you can and figure out what movies are working — and either write one or get one written for you.
CM: What are you currently working on?
JC: I am currently working on a movie called Shotgun Wedding. It has come together and fallen apart many times, but I’m hopeful it will get made this fall.
We're also currently working on the twelfth draft of Super Troopers 2 and negotiating with Fox. If everything goes well, we will shoot it next year. I have a television show I am trying to get made as well.