Spinning Platters Interview: Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim on “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie”

by OJ Patterson on March 2, 2012

Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie

Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie is a play on precision and expectation. Ricocheting, hazy-vision precision, and constantly fragmenting expectation. The movie stars Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim as actors/directors facing unmitigated evil after wasting a billion dollars. Their solution: revitalize a mall. Such wonkiness is the epidermis of a diseased body containing awkward, obtuse, and hilariously horrible circumstances. Here is an interview elaborating on said horribleness. Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie is now available in theaters and VOD. Enjoy. 

Spinning Platters: There’s a lot of dark humor, dystopia, and goofiness to Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie. Are you guys fans of Kurt Vonnegut?

Eric Wareheim: Oh yeah.

Tim Heidecker: Oh, huge!

SP: What’s your favorite Kurt Vonnegut book?

TH: Well, hmm… I don’t know if I have a favorite. I remember the first book I read was Galápagos. It blew my mind. And then I went back and read all the classics.

EW: Tim actually recommended me one; I can’t remember which one it was.

TH: …Cat’s Cradle… I love The Sirens of Titan. The idea of that book being about the government creating an alien invasion to unite the world. It’s all great. It’s coming from our perspective of: “The world is f*cked. We are living in [a] completely absurd society”.

EW: Yeah. Nightmare television.

SP: You worked with both children and animals in this movie. Two faux pas in Hollywood. Which were harder to work with?

TH: They were both hard. The wolf for us was very hard because it was actually like the cutest thing in the world. You wanted to go up and give it a hug; it was so not-scary. It took very creative editing and sound effects to make it feel like it was something intimidating.

EW: As far as the kids go, they were great. They would just crack up for the first ten takes. After they got bored of [the scene], that’s when we got those scary “Shrim” faces from them. Eventually just wore them down.

SP: Are they aware of what’s going on? [Side Note: The scene in question is a pivotal scene with must-see-to-believe depravity.]

EW: Yeah! We explained it to them. And they thought it was funny; everyone thinks that gag is silly and [the kids] were into it.

TH: It’s funny how not-creepy it is on set. It’s just a fun, fun thing to do. But then when you edit it together and you put the scary music under it and the way it’s cut and suddenly you’re like “Oh my god, that must have been a nightmare.”

SP: Were there any store names that you couldn’t get past legal clearance or you just didn’t have time to explain? 

TH: Um… there was a scene written about us going into a music store and jamming on some guitars. It was actually a pretty funny scene [but] we were like “Ok, we gotta cut something”. Our art department made these store signs that you see in the way background that kill us, that make us laugh so hard. (to Eric) What was [one] “Shash”?

EW: Yeah, “Shash”. “Shhhh”.

TH: Yeah, another one was “S-H-H-H-H”. They just took letters that were lying around.

EW: They went through that mall and just found sh*t and created some of these stores. The did an amazing job.

SP: Is there a chance for a follow-up feature with past collaborators like Flying Lotus?

TH: (to Eric) Are you doing a video for him?

EW: I’m not but he’s getting into film scoring and stuff and would love to work with him. He scored The Terrys [a 15-minute short film of love and Methamphetamine. Very NSFW.]

It’s interesting. We have a lot musician friends that are amazing but we rarely use [them] because our work to be unique and bland and kinda gross except for Aimee Mann. Most of the music is purposefully sh*tty to elevate the joke in a way. Maybe if we make [a] serious movie down the line, we’ll get some of our friends in it.

 SP: What’s a better catalyst for comedy: fear or sickness?

TH: Fear or sickness?

SP: Like, your movie has a lot of intense, dark, violent scenes and then there’s also the scatological, gross out stuff. 

TH: For us the scatological stuff is meant to be as cartoony as possible. It’s meant to just be silly stupidity. The awkward stuff is more tense, more dangerous to us.

EH: We probably will not have a “brown scene” in the next movie just because it’s a big scene but that’s just a tiny percentage of the movie. The crux of [Billion Dollar Movie] is all these other horrible thoughts [and] situations that are as f*cked up.

 SP: What’s the next medium you want to conquer? 

EW: What’s left is my question. [Laughs] To us, this movie is our dream. We also tour live, we play in a band together.

TH: I think [we’ll] take on the 8 o’clock sitcom but not compromise in any way.

[Special thanks to Kelda M., Jason L., Vince M. and Amber K. for all your help and patience]

OJ Patterson

OJ Patterson is a Bay Area Native, who grew up on a diet of scathing satire and absurd surrealism. He is a comedy writer, performer and promoter. He has the best laugh in the room and loves you very much. Serving Size = 1.

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