Seth Rogen And Zac Efron Go To War: Visiting The Set Of Nicholas Stoller's Neighbors

By Eric Eisenberg 2014-01-30 09:30:57discussion comments
Stoller Neighbors

Filming a party scene is its own particular challenge, as a filmmaker has to visually translate the amount of fun characters are having on set, and in his approach to the film Stoller looked to a very interesting place for aesthetic inspiration: found footage movies. Borrowing an idea from the Todd Phillips-produced Project X, the Forgetting Sarah Marshall director actually handed out cameras to actors and extras and had them film their own personal experiences "partying" on set.

"As we're shooting the movie, we're also handing stuff out to people to film stuff, so we can use that footage and cut it in," Stoller said. "And I think it cuts in really seamlessly. That's a big difference between this and Get Him to the Greek - which had a lot of parties. But, even though it was only a few years ago, it feels like a different time weirdly, in terms of what you can do with that found footage stuff."

Also having an affect the director’s approach is a change in leading men. While Stoller and Rogen go way back, having first worked together on 2002 episodes of the television series Undeclared, this is the first time they’ve worked together as director and actor. Stoller has spent much more time working with Jason Segel – the star of both Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Five-Year Engagement - but working on Neighbors actually opened the director’s eyes to the similarities in the two actors’ methods.

"They're different people, but in terms of working with them it's pretty similar," he said. "They both come at stuff from a writer's perspective first, and then an actor’s perspective second. I would say the main difference is that once we start shooting…[Seth’s] not method-y at all…. I think Jason can be more a little bit more method-y. I remember on The Five-Year Engagement, the scene where Emily and he break up. It was very intense. And he delivered this insane performance. But, it was a different approach in the way Seth would have done it."

Likewise, Rogen had to adjust to working with Stoller, but for extremely different reasons. Neighbors was the first film that the star shot after making his directorial debut alongside his producing and writing partner Evan Goldberg, and it was an adjustment to get out of that mode. Fortunately, his common ground with Stoller helped ease the transition. "I think in a lot of ways our sensibilities kind of were developed in the same environment," Rogen told us in an interview. "So it's not hard letting Nick take control. It's great. He's a lot more organized than we were as directors.

"We really learned how to do this the same way," Rogen said about Stoller later in the interview. "We shared an office on Undeclared, literally. We learned how to write together in a lot of ways. We both were exposed to production in the same way, especially from behind the scenes. So, I think the ideology that we approach filmmaking with is really the same ideology, which is, like, ‘Be open, be fluid, explore everyone's ideas and really just try to make the best version of the scene.’"
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