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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Michael Jones of Rooster Teeth Discusses 'Lazer Team' Movie, Cool Online Stuff, and Being an Asshole

A telephone conversation with Rooster Teeth Productions principal/self-described asshole from New Jersey Michael Jones in conjunction with the August 2, 2016 (Unreal TV reviewed) Anchor Bay Productions DVD of the Teeth film "Lazer Team" provided a good chance to learn more about both that movie and the other projects of Jones and his fellow cocky boys.

It was expected going in that Jones coming to the attention of Rooster after uploading "Crackdown 2 Orbs=Bullshit," which is roughly two awesome minutes of his expletive-laden frustration that would make Eric Cartman blush while chasing the titular glowing ball in the titular video game, would make for a fun and freewheeling conversation. He did not disappoint.

Paying it Back with 'Tude

The concept of the 14 seasons and still going strong (Unreal TV reviewed) Teeth web series "Red v. Blue" giving potty mouthed and pop culture laden voices to characters in military-oriented video games and "Lazer Team" having a similar sensibility required asking Jones about the extent to which the similar late '80s - mid '90s cable series "Mystery Science Theater 3000" (MST3K)  influenced the Rooster flock. Jones replied that they were all fans but did not know how much that cult series influenced their work.

Jones added that a new Rooster web series titled "Theater Mode" has Jones and his posse make comments ala MST3K while watching horrible movies. Jones distinguished "Mode" from MST3K by noting that there was a great deal of cursing and crass comments. His not seeming to understand the nature of a response "so no Voltaire then" spoke volumes about both "Mode" and this proudly rough-and-tough Jersey boy.

Jones further shared that only Rooster Teeth sponsors could access "Mode." He explained that these benefactors provided Rooster Teeth an important support system in its early days and that the company wanted to give back to them to thank them for doing so.

A later discussion of "Lazer" included the indiegogo campaign to raise money for the film; Jones shared that a late addition perk was a chance for a walk-on role for a $5 donation. Getting 535 donors at that level prompted Teeth to dub that group "the 535" and to give each member a role. They appeared in crowd scenes such as the spectators at a high school football game and the guests at house party after that game.

Stunt Ass

A scene in which Zach the stereotypical meathead arrogant high school QB that Jones played mooned a local cop and subsequent "Team" member prompted asking Jones if he used a body double in that scene; he replied "that's all me." He provided the same answer regarding the scenes of him playing football, adding that he did not play high school football but that (like his character) "I (Jones) am an asshole" and that he based his character on how he would have been had he played that sport.

Continuing the discussion of stunts, Jones shared "if they asked me to do anything, I did it." In true Hollywood style, he added that there were some stunts regarding which the producers did not want to risk the neck of their star.

Location Location Location

Jones further stated that they partially filmed this movie set in a fictional small Texas town in Austin and partially in Teeth facilities. He further described this first bit of feature film stardom as being "super fun to make; it was a surreal experience to make it with people (such as co-star/best "boi" Gavin Free) I know so well."

Further enthusiasm regarding the filming included statements that it "became a collaborative effort" and that working with a crew that he did not know was very different than his Teeth projects with his regular colleagues. Related comments were that making "Team" was "Nerve-wracking but rewarding and a lot of fun."

A prime example of the collaboration was Jones sharing that his sense that he was sitting in a car for an unduly long period while other actors piled in before fleeing the scene of an explosion led to director Matt Hullum taking his suggestion that the actors speed up the action by entering the car from both sides.

Jones further praised Hullum in describing him as "a great director, which made it easy to talk to him." Another example of the ensuing collaboration between director and cast as the extent of the ad libbing in the film.

That's A Wrap

Talking with Jones fulfilled a long-standing desire to connect with a member of the Rooster flock, and his expected candid style awesomely proved that you can both be true to yourself and succeed if you have the necessary talent. Anyone with questions or comments regarding him is welcome either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvddvdguy.