Interview: ‘Undecided: The Movie’ Stars & Writers Jason Selvig & Davram Stiefler
By Dr. Zaius
Monday, November 7th, 2016 at 7:00 pm
If this election cycle is driving you insane, take a break from the seriousness of it and enjoy Undecided: The Movie. Directed by Julio DePietro and co-written by the director and stars Jason Selvig & Davram Stiefler, Undecided is an assault on the general insanity the 2016 election is causing all over the nation. Filmed as part mockumentary, part improv prank show, the film is about two losers, John (Selvig) and Dan (Stiefler) who are, as the title suggests, undecided voters. They are chosen for a reality show where they will travel around from caucus to convention meeting, greeting and offending candidates along the way. After watching the film earlier this week, I got a chance to speak to both stars just a few days before the Presidential election.
Check out the interview below.
Geeks Of Doom: Hi guys, pleasure to get to talk to you.
Jason Selvig: Yeah of course, thanks for taking the time today.
Geeks Of Doom: My wife and I just watched Undecided the other day and we loved it. My wife is not a movie person, and we watched together laughing hysterically.
Jason Selvig: Thank you.
Davram Stiefler: Thank you.
Jason Selvig: We’re really proud of it.
Geeks Of Doom: The obvious question I want to ask the guys who made a movie about the election called “Undecided,” I’ll save til the end. I was looking you guys up on IMDb and I guess to start, what inspired you to take on this project? Are you guys politically active, were you into politics before, or did the lunacy of the whole election process take hold of you?
Jason Selvig: Well, Davram and I have been doing comedy in the real world for the last 5 years. We started at Occupy Wall Street in 2011, and we would dress as investment bankers. We wanted to “occupy” Occupy Wall Street, just kind of as a sketch, we thought. The media started reporting on it, and people started taking it seriously, and we thought “oh man, we’re on to something.” We started yelling things like, “If you guys keep doing this, we’ll have to give up our cocaine habit and lose our house in the Hamptons.” And we thought we were being ridiculous, but we had real investment bankers come and join us and protest with us. After that we started doing a whole bunch of other videos and stunts with anyone who we thought kind of deserved it. If it was a big corporation like Time Warner Cable, Chick Fil A, and some of the gun companies, we would just act like them and go out and say the things they would say behind closed doors, to give a voice to people who don’t want to have a voice, we call them “The Good Liars.”
Geeks Of Doom: Yeah I feel like in this particular election, the way it’s broken down, the more ridiculous you intentionally act, the more you seem to just fit in naturally.
Jason Selvig: Yeah we were taken seriously time and time again. And when you have this experience doing this type of comedy, where we think we’re playing something a little over the top, but the media runs with it, it’s nearly impossible to be “too” ridiculous. In an election like this, we sort of just blended in. We had people report on us, but after a few weeks we were anonymous again.
Geeks Of Doom: So all the stuff we’re seeing in the movie, this was all completely legit, it all went down the way it’s shown. The media coverage was all real?
Jason Selvig: Yeah and more. We had to make a film, and wanted to keep it under 90 minutes, and we had to keep the story moving. But there’s more where that came from. The stuff was really covered and people were confused, but we were at these places and we got the coverage you see in the movie.
Geeks Of Doom: No one in the media put 2 and 2 together that the same two guys were getting kicked out of all the different candidates’ rallies?
Jason Selvig: There were a couple places, a couple of sites, podcasts, and then Rachel Maddow did a big piece on us, but that was later on. So maybe it was some willful ignorance on their part. We were giving them pretty great stories and they wanted to report on them and they did, to get their views and clicks, but yeah, it was crazy. Over and over again, we were getting away with it.
Geeks Of Doom: It really was amazing. At times, it was like watching a car wreck. I kept putting my head down into my hands, because I couldn’t believe these things were happening… and that’s a good thing, that’s a compliment.
Jason Selvig: We’re going to quote you on that.
Geeks Of Doom: No problem. I want to give you a little bit of my background. My full-time job is high school history teacher and I teach U.S. Government and Civics to both day and night school kids. I’ve been looking for a movie like this to show my students because it will a) keep them awake, and b) keep them interested. The one thing they get out of this election, is the complete lunacy of the whole thing, which I feel you guys perfectly capture.
Jason Selvig: Oh thank you very much, that’s exciting for us, I’d love to hear how they perceive it.
Geeks Of Doom: What would be your advice to the first-time voter, the 18-year old who is questioning all things politics?
Jason Selvig: I would say, and hopefully this is true, this is NOT the norm. This is not the way it’s supposed to be. We’re not supposed to have a candidate like Donald Trump, who is talking about grabbing women by the p*ssy, calling people names, and cursing on the stage. This is not how the system usually works. And we are living in a weird time where reality television, entertainment, and politics are all kind of a stew and being served by the media as this one thing put together. So hopefully we’ll all as a nation breathe after the election and work on bridging some of those divides that have taken over the country in the last few months especially.
Davram Stiefler: And I think as we tried to do in the film, have the lesson at least be that there is a deep divide in the country but we can find reasons to find similarities between one another instead of differences and have something hopeful come out of this. As crazy and hopeless as this feels sometimes, we’re all people and we can find common ground.
Geeks Of Doom: Yeah, that was something I loved in the film, was that Jason, your character (John) comes from a Republican background, while Davram, Dan comes from a Democratic background, and yet the film becomes more about you too becoming best friends, instead of finding the right candidate. It’s almost like Republicans and Democrats aren’t allowed to be friends anymore. Was it part of the thought process behind your two characters?
Davram Stiefler: Yes it was. These politicians benefit from driving us further and further apart. It’s how they make sure they have supporters. We wanted to underline the fact that we don’t have to let them do this to us.
Jason Selvig: And that’s why it was important to us to not hit one side harder than the other. Obviously there were more republicans than democrats, so we had a lot more fun with them because there were more of them. But I think we got Hillary and Bernie pretty bad too. And Martin O’Malley, poor old Martin O’Malley as well.
Geeks Of Doom: I think you hit Bernie’s supporters, almost more than Bernie, but about Hillary for one second, did you guys actually coin “Hillary for Prison” because that is one of the only things you hear from Trump supporters now.
Davram Stiefler: I don’t know, I don’t think we can take credit for that.
Geeks Of Doom: I loved her reaction to you guys being topless, front row at her rally. That was fantastic.
Davram Stiefler: Yeah, just like certain parts of this movie, that was a last-minute thing. Are we going to make it to this rally? What are we gonna do? Some of the stuff we really had to throw together last minute when you’re shooting in the real world and trying to make it happen. That was a cool… I don’t want to say accident but…
Jason Selvig: It was really funny. You can’t see it in the movie but when we go to get the selfie with her, she’s like “Okay guys, all right,” and made a very specific point that we could not touch her. “Do not touch me, you’ll get your picture right now.”
Geeks Of Doom: Wow, that’s funny. About the rallies, who was in charge of the behind the scenes work of getting you guys in, because obviously you can’t just say, “I’m making the comedic take on the election, I want my two actors in there.” How did you get in and get such great seats to these things?
Davram Stiefler: On line waiting, we did it all ourselves. You sign up, you show up three hours early to get on line, try to get in front of the line, then you wait three more hours sitting in there in the front before anyone starts speaking, so if there is a rally you see 30-seconds of, that was 8-hours of our time.
Jason Selvig: It’s a lot of waiting, a lot of talking to the supporters, it was mostly just waiting. And we should give a shout out to our camera crew, Charlotte Kaufman and Peter Barr did a lot of the camerawork and they were incredible. They had to wait, they had to get in there with a camera, talk their way out of situations, they were threatened by some of the campaigns and you don’t get to see them, but they put a lot of hard work in this.
Geeks Of Doom: So I have to ask, Davram were you actually arrested at the Rubio rally?
Davram Stiefler: No, I wasn’t. That had me put my hands on the hood of the car, and I just kind of stayed in character. They were like, “Okay, what are you doing here?” and I was like “Well love is really hard and I think the world needs to know…” and they just got kinda weirded out by me, and eventually just handed my ID back and sent me on my way.
Geeks Of Doom: Which was your favorite rally stunt? Was it interrupting Rubio, yelling “boring” at Trump? Personally, I was dying laughing when you were at the gun range with Rick Santorum, because you somehow managed to make Rick Santorum seem like a down to Earth, fun guy.
Jason Selvig: [Laughing] That was bizarre. That was the first day of shooting and we didn’t know how this was going to go, we had an outline of a script basically with some bullet points we wanted to hit with each candidate. For Santorum my plan was go up and shake his hand and hopefully try to say one funny line. So right when he came, I said that line and then showed him into a room and all of sudden, he thought I was in charge. So I was in there 15 minutes with him and he thinks I’m in charge and associated with this big event, so that’s why he teaches me how to shoot a gun. It was crazy because I never shot a gun before in my life and I’m holding the gun thinking “I hope I don’t accidentally drop this.” This will be a disaster for our film and for Rick Santorum and his family as well.
Geeks Of Doom: It must’ve been easier to get closer to the minor candidates like the Santorums, Huckabees, even Jeb Bush as compared to the bigger ones like Trump and Hillary. Was that the case?
Jason Selvig: Yeah, when we called Trump boring there was only one row of people in front of us, that was it. We were lucky we went to one of the earlier rallies in January, in New Hampshire for that. It was the same deal, we had to wait four hours outside in the cold, then went inside and waited another three hours, then you’re up front and this point that would impossible to do.
Geeks Of Doom: Was there anything you guys were intimidated about doing?
Jason Selvig: The Rubio concession speech where I was a Trump supporter, that was the one I didn’t feel that great about. Respecting the process of the whole system we have, I kind of had a mini-breakdown after that and dropped out of character. And that same night Davram was in Ohio doing the same thing to Kasich. That was a scary moment, and they also pushed me around there as well, which was surprising since Rubio’s people are usually pretty nice.
Geeks Of Doom: Yeah at some of these rallies, like the Trump and Bush ones, there was a lot of negativity in those rooms. You mentioned being pushed around, was there ever a fear of violence, that you may be knocked out or something?
Davram Stiefler: A little bit. We did something about a month ago at a Pence rally which was to promote the film, it didn’t really catch on. We thought it was a funny video, but we got roughed up on the way out. We ended up being fine, but there was that feeling of a lot of anger in the room and we gave everyone a place to focus it, so we got tugged on, and pushed and shoved. Eventually we got out and we were safe, but there was some feeling of danger there.
Jason Selvig: Trump rallies, you’ll see are a totally different thing between a Trump and a Bernie Sanders rally. Trump rallies have riot police outside, people lighting fireworks, people screaming at each other saying the worst things, racial slurs being thrown. And then you go to a Bernie rally and there are people passing a joint around. Totally different vibe.
Geeks Of Doom: You guys met so many of the candidates. When did you do your filming?
Jason Selvig: We went all the way through the Republican National Convention. We also did some pick ups as it was being edited. I want to give another shout out to our editor Conor Kelley, he did a tremendous job putting this together in a really tight time frame. We were shooting pick ups all the up till two days before picture lock, but the last rally we shot at was the RNC which was back in July.
Geeks Of Doom: Of all the candidates you guys met, who were you the most legitimately impressed by? Maybe not the person you’d vote for, but just impressed with as a politician and person?
Jason Selvig: Well, I think Davram and I both agree on this. The most impressive speaker was Chris Christie. He was funny, he did a ten-minute Trump impression, he told a nice story at the end that really tugging at everyone’s heartstrings, and it didn’t even make the cut. But we left there going, “Wow, he was a really good public speaker.” He has a great stage presence. And of course, two weeks later he’s standing behind Trump endorsing him, and he just becomes a meme. At the time though, we were both really impressed by him. I don’t think there would ever be a world where I’d vote for him under any circumstance, but he was actually a really great speaker.
Geeks Of Doom: I’m a New Yorker and we get to see [NJ Governor] Christie a lot. It always felt he was sabotaged by Trump because he was shaping up to be the big blowhard on the Republican side, but Trump took that away from him and left him with no role.
Jason Selvig: Yeah and then he hurt him even more by saying, “Hey, come join my team.” If he were the guy who actually stood up to Trump maybe, the guy who got in his face, maybe things would’ve been totally different.
Geeks Of Doom: Yeah and shockingly that turned out to be Kasich, which was weird because he was always the “gentlemen in the room.”
Davram Stiefler: Watching Ted Cruz’s journey with Trump was just strange and surreal to watch. To watch him refuse to endorse him at the RNC, then endorse him and then have that blow up in his face, was just really funny.
GoD: Okay, well the movie is called Undecided. Are you now decided? Do you know who you are voting for, and would you care to make that public knowledge?
Jason Selvig: Well, I can answer that question completely honestly, by saying I already voted. I’m registered in Florida, so I already voted and I will say, for the record, that I did not vote for Jill Stein.
Geeks Of Doom: Was there any thought of getting Stein, or Gary Johnson, or other third-party candidates involved in this?
Jason Selvig: We had a plan to go to a Gary Johnson rally, and give him a fruit basket as Trump supporters, thanking him for the votes and getting Trump elected. But he doesn’t really have that many events and he’s become a caricature.
Geeks Of Doom: So lastly, the election is less than a week away, and one of these candidates will be the next President. Are you guys thinking of a sequel for 2020, or maybe just following up with the winner?
Davram Stiefler: Let’s see if we make it there. Whoever becomes the President is not going to love us. If we survive the next four years, and if it makes sense and the election in four years deserves satire, then we’ll be there.
Undecided: The Movie is currently streaming on Netflix, iTunes, YouTube, and Amazon Video, and I strongly recommend watching it before Election Day this Tuesday 11/8/2016. It is the perfect satire on this wacky and utterly ridiculous election. Jason Selvig and Davram Stiefler poured their hearts into this project, and on occasion as you’ve read, put themselves in awkward and potentially dangerous situations for our enjoyment. I wish both guys the best of luck and I can’t wait to see what’s next for them… and the country.
Undecided: The Movie Official Trailer 1 (2016) – Jason Selvig Movie