Written by: Bill Graham
“We Gotta Get Out” of This Place is one of those films that has captured upward momentum. I’m positive that people will track down this film years from now to see where certain cast and crew got their start. But more than anything, it works as a film. It’s dreary yet honest and familiar. We’ve all known or spent time in small towns. There’s a feeling you get. People want to leave but they can’t. Mix that with young love and stealing from the wrong people and you’ve got a premise that goes very interesting places.
During the Dallas International Film Festival I was able to wrangle local boy Nick Robinson, the associate producer on We Gotta Get Out of This Place, to talk about the film, his role, and much more. Some of the highlights are his descriptions of exactly what a producer does and specifically his duties on the film and his honesty about a film title. Enjoy the conversation below and be on the lookout for the film on VOD soon.
Knowshi: So, most people from my side of things know that one of the main goals for a film playing a film festival is to get picked up. But here you are, at the Dallas International Film Festival, and you’ve already been picked up. So, what’s the inclination? Is it just to get more exposure?
Nick Robinson: Yeah, the Dallas International Film Festival has always been a great word of mouth. If you play well here, word of that spreads. But on another note, me and the co-producer John Lang, we grew up in this area. So it’s nice to come back. This is my first time showing the film to my parents. They’re actually watching it for a second time, which I’m surprised about. They loved it. Dallas has always been important to me.
Knowshi: One thing I really like about the film is the setting. Was there something specific in the script about a location or did y’all find that in scouting?
Nick: We had a concept and a location. The executive producer, Justin Duprie, he grew up in Taft, Texas, which is around 2,000 people. Across the bay from Corpus. It’s a cotton farming community and he runs a chili festival. We went down just to support our buddy and that place is like nothing you’ve ever seen. The flattest land you’ve ever seen. In the last four or five years, because it’s the windiest place in the United States, these giant 60 foot tall windmills have popped up. You seriously think you can see forever. So we shot there. The community absolutely embraced us. I slept in somebody’s office. Our production designer stayed with a family. The mayor and chief of police was supporting us as well. You can’t get a project like this done unless the community steps up.
Knowshi: As a more general question, for most people that aren’t in the film industry a producer is a nebulous term. What was your role?
Nick: I was working at Rough and Tumble Films when we had the idea. It was just a germ of an idea when I was in the room. I’ve been on the film from that moment to now. Three and a half years. [Laughs]. Basically, as associate producer I did five jobs on set. Script supervisor, I was shooting continuity photos, I did the BTS. I was doing a lot, which would be enough for any person, but then I had to be the associate producer which means I am the safety net. If something doesn’t get done? That’s what I do. There’s an expression in farming communities, “You earn your sleep.” I earned my sleep!
Knowshi: So you’re the grease in the machine. You’re what keeps things running.
Nick: Basically, a production needs a camera, somebody in front of it, we need a lot of people behind it, we need a place to be, and words to say. A producer makes sure all those things are in place. It’s not an easy job, by far. It’s an under appreciated thing. No film gets made without a producer who goes above and beyond the call. Even films like Transformers. They have producers who are busting their butts.
Knowshi: The golden rule in film seems to be titles with two to three words. That’s the sweet spot. You’re film has a lot of words in the title. Is that a concern?
Nick: I’ll get a little inside baseball with you. Right now, VOD is a huge money maker. Theaters aren’t what they used to be. People won’t enforce the rules and tell people to turn off their phones or just be quiet. They’re afraid to lose out on 13 bucks but at the same time they’re losing out on 46 bucks because people just don’t go. I love our title but it starts with a W. When you think about scrolling through movies, think about alphabetical order. Why do so many films start with an A now? You scroll through and you find the first film you find interesting. But it might change. I’ve had some people get on to me because they never say “We gotta get out of this place” in the movie. But tonally? That’s the feeling. You have to get out of this place! Sue and Bobby, they’re about to go to college. They have a way out. It really reinforces that they have to leave. They can’t live their lives this way. The other thing is that Dutch Southern, our amazingly talented writer, who is a very good friend of mine. He was listening to a lot of old southern rock while writing it. BJ, Bobby, and Sue are the protagonists of “Take The Money and Run” by Steve Miller Band. “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” is obviously The Animals song. It expresses what the movie is about and what it feels like. Whether Starz will be cool with that, we’ll see. It’s also a pain to abbreviate. Our Twitter handle? Oh, man. On the red carpet I have to pause and think. But I love this title. It just comes with some baggage. [Laughs].