It’s clear that Vancouver-born actor Finn Wolfhard is a talented guy. At the young age of 17, he’s a successful musician and actor, solidifying his career through performances as Mike in Stranger Things and Richie in IT. But now he’s making his transition from in front of the camera to behind it. His Short Film Night Shifts, which he wrote and directed, premiered at Fantasia Festival 2020 and has been garnering buzz. It’s about two old friends connecting unexpectedly during a convenience store hold-up. With a running time of four minutes, Wolfhard is able to garner nostalgia for lost friendships through whip-smart direction and hilarious dialogue. Today he sat down on a Zoom chat with fellow Canadian filmmaker Jay Baruchel to talk about his leap from actor to writer-director. Wolfhard’s cast of the film, Malcolm Sparrow-Crawford, Artoun Nazareth and Billy Bryk, also came in half-way through to talk about their experience. Below are some highlights.
Wolfhard on 2020 and career so far:
“It’s easily the weirdest year of my young life so far. I’ve gotten very lucky to have the career I’ve had so far.”
Wolfhard on advice from Shawn Levy (I Am Not Okay With This, Stranger Things):
“Just because you have an idea, doesn’t mean that it’s the idea.”
Wolfhard on his directorial debut, Night Shifts:
“Last year I was shooting the new Ghostbusters. And I was talking to Jason Reitman about making movies and he said, ‘Well, write a Short, it’s the best thing you can do’.”. He asked himself, “What was the most uncomfortable situation you could have with a friend from high school? And I was like oh, I know, a robbery!”. “I wanted it to be fast, I wanted it to be in and out. We shot it in 12 hours. We had fun.”
Baruchel on Night Shifts:
“It’s really, really smooth and confident and restrained. It doesn’t feel like a first Movie, man.”.
Wolfhard on Crowdfunding for Night Shifts:
“I feel like I’m very happy and very, very, very surprised that I can get on Social Media and people will give it to me. And then I feel terribly guilty. I don’t know it’s incredible. I started giving incentives, like a signed prop or something.”.
Wolfhard on his Cast:
“I’d met Artoun and Billy on the set of Ghostbusters, they are both in that. I’ve known Malcolm since I was a baby.”
Bryk on Ghostbusters and Night Shifts:
“Artoun and I, it was pretty much the first movie we did. It was this insane experience and we really got to know everybody. And then we all got together again for this.”
Favourite mments from set:
“So many prop chip bags. So many fake chips it was awesome. That was amazing.”.
“It was a fun, fun time…it was a bunch of dudes being guys.”.
“There was one line in the Movie that got cut that Finn and I thought was funny…and one guy in the back laughed.”.
“I want to do this for the rest of my life. I think it’s the best feeling in the world.”
Wolfhard on a possible Feature Film:
“Billy and I are writing a Script (for a Feature Film)…it’s a Comedy-Slasher Movie.”
Finn on Director Inspirations:
“Wes Anderson is big for me…Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are huge for me. Also, Spike Jones, PTA (Paul Thomas Anderson).”.
“Putting characters into situations that are serious but add Comedy…If I can blend that with magical realism, then that would be awesome.”.
The entire Cast, along with Wolfhard also talked about having an actual attempted robbery happen at the convenience store they were filming at overnight. When the attempted robber entered the store, they didn’t know what to do, so Nazareth raised his fake gun up. By some miracle this made the actual robber leave the store. They were laughing about the scenario.
See the Chat:
Night Shifts will be available on-demand for Fantasia FestAug 20 – Sept 2, 2020.