Interview: MYSTERY TEAM Co-Writer/Director Dan Eckman

Chase Whale

by: Chase Whale
May 26th, 2010

Dan Eckman

Last year, Derrick Comedy premiered their first feature at one of the most prestigious film festivals, Sundance. The film received very positive buzz (our very own Ronnie Miller loved it) and the popular trend "Demand It" got it into theaters for the fans.

Yesterday, MYSTERY TEAM released on DVD and to celebrate we interviewed the TEAM (coming soon) and co-writer/director Dan Eckman. Hit the jump to read the interview where he mentions his very disturbing, yet hilarious, cameo in the film.

You co-wrote, directed, acted in and produced MYSTERY TEAM.  Since this is your first feature, which did you find to be the most difficult?

Dan Eckman: I don't count my acting credit because I just fuck some bread for a second and then run off camera. And Meggie is really the producer of the film. Definitely the hardest was directing. And to a lesser extent, the writing/editing. But I really see those as functions of each other, and it's hard for me to separate. But going from directing shorts where the crew was just me, Meggie, and my brother Jeff, to an actual film crew with overtime hours and all kinds of other production related issues pulling us away from the creative was extremely taxing both physically and emotionally. If the rest of Derrick hadn't been so supportive of each other, there's no way I could have made it through the past (almost) three years.

Do you want to keep directing Derrick Comedy features, or do y'all plan on switching off?

Definitely! But I think that I'll direct a non-Derrick movie first. We've learned a lot from other troupes that have come before us, and one thing that is very important to us is that we never make each other our meal ticket. We all grew up fantasizing about careers in film and television and we always planned to use the group as a platform to propel our individual careers.  As we branch out and work on individual projects, the overall stock of the group should rise and in turn allow us more freedom when we come back to do the next Derrick movie.

What was the writing process like since there were five people working on the script?

It was an awesome collaboration actually. We would all get together in Meggie's and my living room and hash out story work, and then the three guys scripted it while Meggie and I worked on production issues, constantly adjusting the script to fit our capabilities even into the shoot.

The film at times gets a little gritty and violent. Was there anything written that had to be cut out because you thought it might be too much?

Nope. That was kinda the point of making the film the way we did. We didn't think a studio would let us squirt milk in someone's butt and knowing we had the power to point the camera at the most disgusting thing we could think of really got us through a lot of the harder times. Though we were afraid that the camera would just refuse to shoot certain things. Like the  little white kid saying the N-word. There were a lot of fears on set about the camera becoming sentient.

MYSTERY TEAM premiered at Sundance 2009. What was that experience like?

Dream come true. Without Sundance, we would have had absolutely no legitimacy with which to push this film. We owe so much to Trevor Groth, he changed our careers forever.

Since getting your first feature into such a prestigious festival, do you feel like you need to raise the bar for future projects?

Hell yeah! You always have to raise the bar with each project and push yourself forward as an artist. Each project has to be better than the last.

What's next for Derrick Comedy?

We're developing our next film and continuing to shoot Internet videos.

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