The age-old axiom of older siblings, commanding teachers and authoritarians around the globe is still used today: “My way or the highway.” But what happens when one has it both their way and the highway? Better yet, what if the original “way” is achieved through control of the actual highways?
In “Super Troopers 2,” starring a motley crew of crude highway patrolmen, we finally get our answer: pure, chaotic awesomeness.
The film, a sequel to 2001’s “Super Troopers,” centers on the ragtag group of Thorny (Jay Chandrasekhar), Farva (Kevin Heffernan), Mac (Steve Lemme), Foster (Paul Soter) and Rabbit (Erik Stolhanske) as they face their toughest challenge yet: an international dispute with the Canadian highway patrolmen. The film, funded through independent backers on Indiegogo, proves that there’s always room in mainstream movie culture for a cult classic.
The Wheel, along with three other news outlets, participated in a roundtable with the stars to talk about the funding, writing and creation of the film.
This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.
Mikael Trench, The SCAD Connector: It’s a really great accomplishment that you guys were able to raise $2 million in one day to crowdfund the film. What do you guys attribute that to, and where do you see film financing going from here?
Kevin Heffernan: The first film had a real grassroots fan base, and that lends itself well to crowdfunding because you’re able to go directly to the fans. They really came and [helped] to get the next one [made].
Steve Lemme: The movie wasn’t something that came out in theaters and everyone was talking about it. Its [popularity came from] people handing the DVD to one another. What happens when you do that is you feel a certain ownership of it — it is kind of yours. So crowdfunding came as a very natural extension of that. That’s why it didn’t seem crazy for people to be a part of it, to say “yeah, I’ll be a part of the next one because I was kind of a part of the first one.”
SC: Does being independently funded change the production process?
Jay Chandrasekhar: Yeah, Fox gave us a list of suggestions, and some of them we said, “Yeah, OK,” and others we were like, “not doing it,” and they were like, “OK!” That’s how financing works — you bring [the money], and they won’t push you to do something.
SL: With something like this, we basically have total independence, and they can’t interfere with that.
Paul Soter: It’s very rare and very lucky. We’ve had pretty good experiences [in development], but for comedies and a lot of movies, that just bogs you down forever. There are things that a studio development person is just never going to get. That’s why the movie, to me, resembles the first one so much in terms of tone and style — we did it to make each other laugh. We didn’t have to please some random person whose job is to approve jokes.
SL: This one studio suggested that the cold open should be us as little kids. You see us in a playground, you see our personalities, you see little Farva, who’s a bully. And it’s like, “No. F**k you guys.”
KH: But “Super Troopers 3,” that’s how it’s starting.
SC: Do you guys feel an added pressure since it’s the fans who funded it first?
JC: Yes. The pressure’s really around the idea that people saw the first [film] with their friends [and] decided to quote it with their friends — those people really have an emotional connection to it. The pressure is to not ruin the first movie by making a bad second one. That’s the pressure.
SL: Right. If you f**k up, you’re f**king up two movies, not one.
Paul Soter: It’s good to hear from a lot of fans who’ve seen it now, “I was nervous coming into the second one because I didn’t want it to suck. Thank you for not making the second one suck.”
Erik Stolhanske: You see on social media over and over again: “Don’t make it suck, don’t make it suck.” Well, nothing can live up to 17 years of expectations in your head.
Jake Perl, The Emory Wheel: Do you think there’s a saturation point? Will you keep making more sequels?
SL: As long as you’re interested in it, then it’s OK.
JC: Nah. There’s a point where it won’t work, we’re just not there yet.
PS: I think if you’re still working at it and you’ve got fresh blood, fresh ideas, you can keep at it.
JC: If you’re going to do it, you have to make [the sequels] good. You have to do 35 drafts and you have to treat it like a piece of art.
SL: If the creative passion is there, you can’t phone it in.