"Aliens abducted my parents, and now I kind of feel left out as an actor and director of a family-friendly Sundance film"

Austin Everett, Jack Van Wagner, Will Forte, Elizabeth Mitchell, Emma Tremblay, Jacob Buster and Jack Van Wagner discuss making the film .

Jake Van Wagoner's second feature film, "Aliens Kidnapped My Parents and Now I'm Kind of Left Out," premiered at Sundance this year and introduced Festival-goers to Itsy (played by Emma Tremblay), a new city. With big dreams of one day working for The New York Times, Itsy believes this new beginning in a small town may be the end of the world as she knows it. When a friend suggested she enter a writing competition, Itsy's world literally changed, and for the better.

Based on a screenplay by Austin Everett, Aliens Abducted My Parents did not hold onto typical coming-of-age tropes for long. To cement her chances of escaping to New York City, Itsy decides to expose the town's eccentric Calvin (Jacob Buster), whose obsession with outer space is strange to his peers. As it turns out, Calvin believed his parents (played by Elizabeth Mitchell and Will Forte) were abducted by aliens when he was a child, and he's always held out hope that one day he'll be reunited with them. get in touch.

For the film's world premiere at Sundance, Collider's Steve Weintraub was able to sit down with screenwriter Austin Everett, Director Wagoner and actors Forte, Mitchell, Tremblay and Buster at Collider Studio, presented by Saratoga Spring Water in Park City. In the interview, Wagner testifies to the film's lengthy title, the cast shares what drew them to the family-friendly project, and Ford and Mitchell discuss how they got involved. They shared the film's surprisingly short timeline, how they pulled off a Sundance film on budget, and what it was like to get those calls. Forte reveals details about his upcoming film Coyote vs. Acme with John Cena, and Tremblay recalls her time with Academy Award winners Meryl Steep and Robert Down Jr. Playing childhood roles alongside stars like Robert Downey Jr., Buster shares what it was like to move to New York and let the right people in. You can watch the interview in the video above, or read the full transcript below.

COLLIDER: Did you ever get any feedback saying, "Hey, do you have such strong feelings about long titles?"

WAGONER: Of course. The thing about it, though, is that when Austin pitched me the movie — Austin wrote the movie, when he pitched it to me, all he said was, the title. i don't know i Meaning, that's the log line. You know everything about the movie from there. So, we're like, "Well, we can't change that." I mean, it stays in your brain. So, people keep saying, "I don't know, maybe we'll look into it a little bit." But Austin and I always say, "No, that's it. That's the title." We don't care about the Steves of the world.

Right, or Websites and SEO of the World.

Coachman: Yes. I thought, yeah, that was a bit of a misstep. So, maybe we do care about that.

When you hear the title, you know what movie it is. So, congratulations on being a part of Sundance, but everyone watching hasn't seen the movie yet. So, I guess, Austin or Jake, who's going to bite the bullet and explain how you describe this movie to friends and family?

WAGONER: Austin.

AUSTIN EVERETT: I start with the title. I said, "Well, this is about a boy who believes he saw his parents get abducted by aliens, and he's not even mad about it. He's just kind of upset that they didn't take him with him. And Then Itsy walks in, this girl from the big city meets this boy, and they share a similar desire to get out of this small town and do something else. That's --

WAGONER: Spoiler.

WILL FORTE: Basically, everything is a spoiler in some way.

WAGONER: That's true.

EMMA TREMBLAY: The title is a spoiler...

EVERETT: Everything but the title is a spoiler.

I'm a big fan of Will's work.


why don't you? So how often do you quote MacGruber or talk about MacGruber or any of Will's past work on set?

WAGONER: This is a beautiful thing. We shot the film in such a short amount of time that Will was in and out of it in the blink of an eye, and we had 80 pages to shoot while he was there. So, there is little time to quote MacGruber. But what I'm saying is that while we --

FORTE: And a lot of kids.

WAGONER: I mean, it's a kid's movie. But we went to his trailer one time and he showed us some scenes with MacGruber TV shows that haven't aired yet. This is the highlight of the movie for me.

ELIZABETH MITCHELL: I hear you laughing.

One of the hallmarks of this film is that it is suitable for all ages. Anyone can watch. So for actors, was that one of the things that drew you to the project?

JACOB BUSTER: Yeah, I think, for me, I like the family-friendly side, but I feel like a lot of these movies put emotion on the side, and I think a lot of kids do feel that way. But this one dives into that and dives into solitude and really shows kids that they have more to offer than just the people around them and if they're there.

TREMBLAY: For me, it's comedy. I've never done a film as comedic as this one, and I learned that my weakness [is] that I can't keep a still face in a scene. So, I ruined a lot of shots by laughing because everyone here is hilarious.

What does a script or story that says "I want to do this" mean to you guys?

Qiang: I Knowing Jake over 10 years ago as the PA for the movie Don Verdean, I think one day the schedule changed. So we ended up just walking up and down the street --

WAGONER: The smallest town in Utah.

FORTE: Then, years later they asked me to do their show, he and Maclain [Nelson], called Show Offs, and I became friends with them. Then I came to Studio C and they all did it for BYUtv. So, when we were doing Studio C, he said, "Do you want to be a part of this movie?" I didn't know anything about the script at the time, and I guess I just said, "Yeah." Because these people Great, it's been an experience working with them.

I've done a lot of really dirty things in my life, and I just had a baby who was amazing at creating this... It's a clean absurdity that's really fun and entertaining. I have a lot of respect for it because it's hard...you take the dirt off things and sometimes, I don't know, I don't have much. So the fact that he can do these interesting things in a clean way is very inspiring. I'm so excited to be a part of it. I have two young girls now, so it's fun to be part of a show they can watch.

MITHELL: Pure nonsense. do you like that That's your new stuff. You can describe yourself like this.

EVERETT: I could listen to you guys talk about this movie all day long. good question.

MITCHELL: My friend Bob called and said, "Would you like to work with some of the greatest minds in the business?" I said, "Of course." That was it. Then I read the script, and it's so quirky and charming and genuinely lovely, I thought it was a gift.

You have a big scene. I think it's one of those things that you go in and out of this project, you have a big scene in a restaurant and I'm curious what it's like when you step up where everyone's been and have shot and you need to Do it all, everything about your character, in the a very short time?

MITCHELL: Oh, I love it. I mean, this is the most popular group. You guys are amazing. I came on set and I got hugs and I got, "Oh my gosh, we're glad you're here." I heard "We're glad you're here" like 15 hugs, and, "What can I offer you? Would you like to sit here?" I was like, "That's good." I have a teenager at home. I was not treated like this. So, I think it's great. And the character is drawn beautifully. Feel happy.

One thing I also like is that Itsy's parents are very supportive. This is very unusual. So, if you want to talk, can you talk about that aspect?

TREMBLAY: Yeah, it's been really fun working with the parents themselves, and then building that relationship with them very quickly, too, because they get in and out of it pretty quickly, too. So, it was really fun meeting them and then meeting Itsy and how she can do so many things. she was grounded, and And then she's leaving because she's never been grounded. She has her own life and they just watch her. And so it became a movie.

WAGONER: I think we also want to make parents feel like parents from the 80s. We didn't want the parents to be... the story is about these two teens, so we wanted the parents to be there as much as possible because they needed to be the parent figure. Also, the idea is that the movie is about kids. So we had them in and out, supportive, but also kind of aloof, like we saw in 80s movies.

Oh no, 100%.

EVERETT: Parents are very loving. They are so infatuated with each other. A lot of the time they are all alone, going on their own little adventures. We love having parents who love each other and are in their own little world. It's fun for us instead of having parents fighting or fighting all the time. Get these parents very excited about moving to this small town and do Fixer upper level dream. So, it's just its own job.

I'm curious about the spacesuit, the first time you see it, wearing it, and the lab.

BUSTER: Yeah, so that spacesuit is pretty cool. It has countless layers, a sawn-off barrel so I can stick my arm in it, and little buttons on it. And then it's like a painted motorcycle helmet, which is pretty fun. Also, slime, which is fun and I get a lot of… It was [Landry Townsend] who totally got me. That was a very interesting scene. That outfit is definitely physical comedy, and I think that's the best way to express it.

Yes. Is this one of those things where you try to borrow it from a set and people say "F that"?

BUSTER: You know, I wish I could. Because imagine if you could go skiing in it. Put it on, put on your helmet...

WAGONER: Well, I think, honestly, it's a ski suit that's been converted into - really, it is, it's a one-piece ski suit, it's Convert to that, yes.

BUSTER: Yes, that's a white ski suit stained.

But that's called having a budget, and that's actually my next thing. So, obviously, this isn't a Marvel movie. Your schedule and budget are limited. What ended up being the hardest thing you ever faced?

WAGONER: Well, I mean we literally shoot a lot of pages every day. We finished the film in a short amount of time.

Are we talking 14 days, or 25 days?

Coachman: 15. 15 days.

Got it. Exactly.

WAGONER: Yes, exactly. Honestly, when Will and Elizabeth were there, we had to pack every single scene they had in those two days. So that's probably the hardest thing to do. What I will say though is that our crew, filmed locally in Utah, our crew is very creative and they are very innovative. They beg and borrow and steal other scenes and other stuff they've made. So, we can put a There are many things on the screen.

This is another director question, I'm sorry.

WAGONER: Well guys, I'll take it from here.

I'm fascinated by the editing process because that's where the film comes together. So how did the film change in the editing room in ways you didn't expect? Or, have you ever shown the movie to people and they said, "Oh, you need to fix that."?

WAGONER: Yeah, I mean, there's nothing excessive about people saying "uh, oh, this won't work". The first cut I came back with was about 74 minutes in, though, and I was like, "Oh no, what did I do?" It just needed a little artifice and rhythm. Just a little tight. So we just opened it up a little bit, and I think that's the most important thing, just making sure the tempo is right. Because there are touching moments like this in the movie, and there are comic moments as well. So, that's the most important thing, is finding balance and transitions in these scenes to make sure we're not like, "Wow, this is over this place. It flows a little more.

You are apparently part of the Sundance Film Festival. Often you find out at the last minute, or you find out early enough to keep it a secret. So, for all of you, when did you find out and how long was it that you couldn't tell anyone?

WAGONER: I mean, since I get the call first, I start and then keep quiet for the rest of the interview. I was in Ireland watching another movie in December and got a call at 3am that I didn't answer until I woke up. I texted the number because I didn't recognize it, and said, "Hey, sorry, I didn't get your call. I'm awake now," or something. Then [Kim Yutani], a senior programmer at Sundance, and she called me right away and said, "Hey." It was midnight for her by then. She said, "I'm so excited, I want to tell you." I'm all alone in this room in Ireland, just yelling, like, "This movie, the alien movie?" She's Like, "Yeah, we loved it." And then I called the other producers on the movie and woke them up, and Austin was... I kept calling and texting, and he was like, "I'm in bed.

EVERETT: Because it was midnight. It's midnight. So, I was lying on the bed, the phone started buzzing, and I looked, it was Jack. So I mute it and put it back because I'm not going to answer it. So he called me again.

WAGONER: Wow, right?

EVERETT: Again, I muted it, and I got a text message, and I read it, and he said, "Are you awake?" So I texted him, and I said, "No." I Put it back, and he called me. When he called me the third time, I picked it up, and I literally sat up, and I thought, "I think we just got into Sundance." So I answered the phone, and I said, "You Know it's midnight?" He said, "I know the guy. But Sundance just called and we went in." And we started laughing. We just started giggling.

Coachman: it Laughed a lot.

TREMBLAY: It's like noon to me, but I'm still sleeping, so I'm woken up too.

WAGONER: That's true. We texted her and we said, "Hey, can we talk?" She was like, "Um, yeah." We FaceTimed her, and she was like, "Oh, I didn't know this was going to happen. ”

TREMBLAY: My hair is a mess. I'm still in bed. They told me, and I said, "You're kidding." Then I hung up, I ran, I told my parents, I didn't keep it a secret. I tell everyone I know.

I don't know if you should do this, but next time.

Busters: Yes. I almost also found it around noon. Just got a text, "Hey, can we hop on Zoom?" Go ahead and find out that way. Just a random day...

FORTE: I was around 11:55am, probably the first day. Sounds like the first one.

WAGONER: He is, yes. It sounds like you're on the first call.

FORTE: I'm very excited. I didn't sign up for this thing, "Oh, this is an obvious Sundance movie." It It's been amazing because, like she said, everyone involved is so welcoming, inviting, and good at what they do, and I'm so excited to be a part of it. Just knowing this came out of it, I'm so excited for everyone.

MITCHELL: I discovered this after everyone else, well behind everyone else. I don't know if that's true, but what I'm saying is, since you're the first, I'm the last. Here are some things. I was on set and got a text saying, "Pick up your phone." Same thing? Then McClain called and said, "We're in Sundance." I was like, "Wait, wait, what?"

WAGONER: What movie?

MITCHELL: They said, "No, really. Sundance." I was like, "For our little sweet movie?" They were like, "Yeah." I was like, "Oh." And then it was already It was late, it was a quiet night, and I started dancing in the street, and the little security guard said, "You can't do that." Okay. But there is joy. There is real joy.

Will, I have a personal question. I'm curious About Coyote vs. Acme. It's CG, live-action, and you're doing something with John Cena. So, what can you tell people? Because it sounds cool.

FORTE: I mean, it was fun doing this. It comes from this article that I think is decades old. Wiley Coyote is suing Acme Corporation because of all the different devices that exploded in his face and stuff like that. So, I started playing Wiley Coyote's lawyer, which was a mix of animation, like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? style movie. Yes, John Cena is pretty good in it. Lana Condor is in it. It was a lot of fun making it, and the people who made it were really smart. Because you have to figure out where this animated character is going to move. It was great to be a part of it. So, I'm excited to see how it turns out because, of course, I'm performing with tennis a lot of times. There is a tennis ball as sight, and it moves around. So yeah, I guess, I don't know how much more I can do Go ahead, but I've been nagging for a while.

This is funny because Roger Rabbit is a really good movie, and recently, [Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers] came out, and if you haven't seen it on Disney+, it's great. I'm glad the genre is being explored further, rather than being pushed aside.

FORTE: No, I mean involving many different characters from that universe. What an honor to be able to perform with all these beloved cartoon characters.

Elizabeth, I have to ask you, when you signed on to play Mrs. Claus, did you ever think, "This is really something I'm going to be playing for a while."?

Mitchell: 20 years. Yes, 20 years. I didn't, no, not at all. I'm so glad I did. This was one of my first blockbusters, and I thought, "Okay, yeah. Great." I didn't think about it for a second. So, 20 years later, it's great.

If we had more time, I'd spend more time talking about The Expanse. I just want to say how much I love that show, I'm gonna continue. So, I believe, and I could be wrong, that you recently worked with a guy named Meryl, or am I misunderstanding?

TREMBLAY: Meryl Streep when I was nine.

MITCHELL: Cool, great!

TREMBLAY: But that's not recent.

WGONER: Aren't you 11 years old? How old are you?

TREMBLAY: A little older than that.

What was it like when you worked with someone like that, when you were that age, did you know who you were working with?

TREMBLAY: Not at all. It's weird because when I was a kid, I made these blockbusters back to back and I didn't know anything about them. The only person I know is Robert Downey Jr. because he's Iron Man. But it's only now that I can say, "Oh my god, I'm working with Robert Downey Jr. and Meryl Streep, and I don't even know, they're right around the corner, and I'm doing anything." So, this very strange. It's really weird, but it's an interesting story, and it's weird to look back and be like, "I don't know what I'm doing." But yeah. That's cool.

It has to be, yes, it has to be a very strange thing.

TREMBLAY: Yeah, no, that's weird. Jeff Bridges was also part of that movie, I didn't know who he was when I was nine years old, I should know, but I don't.

No, but you shouldn't.

WAGONER: Yes, exactly, and no, you shouldn't know.

TREMBLAY: So, it was weird, and really fun to look back on. Sometimes I'll watch a movie and just think, "That really happened. This is so weird." It doesn't work. It doesn't make sense.

Someone is also on a show called "Let the Right Guy In" and I believe the entire first season is over, or is the final episode coming soon?

Busters: Yes. No, it's gone completely. The first season is completely over.

So, talk about the experience of making it, and also, any news about making another season?

BUSTER: Yeah, so not sure about the new season, but it was an important experience because after finishing the movie, I was 18, moved to New York by myself, and got my first job there prosthetic role It's vampires, and a lot of crazy stuff. Very different from this movie, I'd say. But it really was a blast. I actually worked with Grace Gummer, Meryl Streep's daughter, as my sister. So, it's been amazing to be able to work with so many extraordinary people across America.

Special thanks to our 2023 partners at Sundance, including display partner Saratoga Spring Water and supporting partners Marbl Toronto, EMFACE, Sommsation, Hendrick’s Gin, Stella Artois, MOU Footwear and the all-electric vehicle Fisker Ocean.

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