Director Alberto Belli introduces us to one hell of a game with GATLOPP.
GATLOPP is about a group of old friends who reunite for a nostalgic evening of fun and games after a decade apart. After one too many, they decide to play a drinking game, but it’s quickly revealed that this game comes with supernatural stakes. Mischief leads to mayhem, and the group realizes that if they can’t come together to win the game by sunrise, they will be forced to play for eternity – in hell.
GATLOPP was written by Jim Mahoney, who also stars in the film alongside Emmy Raver-Lampman, Jon Bass, Sarunas J. Jackson, Shelley Hennig, John Ales, and Amy Davidson.
Check out my interview with Alberto!
OMG GATLOPP, I absolutely loved it. I thought it was quite a fun ride until it wasn’t. So, in your own words, what our viewers in for when they watch this movie?
Alberto: I think you described it perfectly. I think they’re gonna, hopefully, leave with a lot of laughs and a lot of heart towards the end. So like, hopefully it’s a fun movie that will make them laugh a lot and then also feel at the end.
How did you come to be the director for this film?
Alberto: I’m very good friends with Jim Mahoney who wrote it and stars in it. We met a bunch of years ago and he was a co writer on a short that I directed called It Is Not Porn… for HBO that went viral and changed our careers. So I wanted to keep working with him and then we found this project because one time we met for coffee and he was just telling me about these great nights he just had with friends, doing a drinking game, and him wanting to turn it maybe into something kind of like Jumanji. I was just like, ‘Oh my God, that sounds amazing. Whenever you’re ready, I want to hopefully direct it,’ and so he kept writing and sending me the drafts. So that’s how I became involved, since the very, very beginning.
What was it like directing Jim in his own story?
Alberto: That’s a good question. I mean, he was so, because obviously he wrote it, so he knew everything and it was actually a lot of fun collaborating with him. He was also making sure that not only his scenes but other scenes were pushing him to go farther than he thought he could, from the writing point of view. Like sometimes you’d have this very clear idea when you’re writing and then once you’re on set it could change to be funnier or more dramatic and so he was very open to that. He is a great artist. It was an awesome collaboration between the writing and the directing of the movie.
And what was it like working with the rest of the cast?
Alberto: Oh, they were lovely. I feel very lucky because this was like during the horrors of the pandemic and the beginning where everyone was scared and so we were very, very lucky to have four actors that got along really well. You would think that they met like, I don’t know, 10 years ago, and they were actually reuniting for this movie. The chemistry between them was very palpable on and off screen. And I was a fan of Emmy from ‘Umbrella Academy.’ I love ‘Umbrella Academy,’ so I was,’ Yay, I get to direct Rumor!. It was very exciting and they were very easy to work with.
This movie has some interesting style choices with the transitions and with some of the animated bits. Did you have a hand in any of that?
Alberto: Yeah. For example, with the Polaroids, we wanted to make it part of the style of the movie because all of these characters are connected through these Polaroids, they reflect some of their past. So how can we use that in the movie? And that’s where my DP and I said, like, how about if we use that as a device for the whole movie, wherever there are flashbacks, it feels like a Polaroid. And the transitions, I guess are kind of my style, coming from a commercial background and I just love having fun on screen with split screens and fun transitions.
What was it like layering the deeper relationship with the characters in with the drinking game?
Alberto: I guess it came from Jim’s Jumanji idea, but of course, we knew we didn’t have the VFX budget and you know, it was a very contained movie. So it was like, instead of trying to focus on making a spectacle with all of these elements, it was more about the acting and the friendship and the heart of the movie. And so a lot of the time, instead of making a challenge like having a rhinoceros come to your living room, it is more about them having to open up about something that happened in the past. And for Jim and I, I think we’re very keen in making people care about the movie and the characters, so a lot of time was spent making sure that there was heart to this. We wanted people to laugh and enjoy the movie and get that message of it’s not a bad idea to reconnect with your friends that you miss.
What would you say was your absolute favorite part of filming this movie?
Alberto: Probably the bathroom scene. It was so funny, like it was probably the one scene where I was laughing the most during the shooting of it. And since it was such a small space, there was something about it that made it really memorable for me. It’s also the first time they realize that the game has superpowers, so it was super fun seeing the actors being super committed to that scene. It was a blast shooting that scene.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about the movie?
Alberto: I hope people watch it with an open mind and have fun. Like I feel we need a bunch of laughs right now, so hopefully people will laugh and also care at the end of the movie.