The SXSW Grand Jury Prize winner “S#!%HOUSE” opens in theaters and on-demand October 16th. Writer-director and lead actor Cooper Raiff discusses his vision for the film alongside actors Dylan Gelula and Logan Miller.
Dubbed a “DIY gem” by critics, S#!%house beautifully captures the uneasy anticipation of the first few weeks of college. The coming-of-age story was written, directed, and co-edited by then 22-year-old Cooper Raiff, who also stars as lead character Alex. Costars Dylan Gelula and Logan Miller round out the tender story, which has been compared to the early work of Raiff’s fellow Texan auteur Richard Linklater.
Freshman Alex (Raiff) is still adapting to college life when he has one memorable night with resident advisor Maggie (Gelula) at legendary fraternity Shithouse. Yet after forging what he thought to be a once-in-a-lifetime connection, Alex is completely ignored by Maggie the next day. Alex tries to relieve their evening by staging another run-in at Shithouse, with the help of his friend Sam (Miller), in hopes to regain that comforting connection with Maggie again.
Raiff utilized social media to make S#!%house a reality, from connecting with executive producer Jay Duplass on Twitter to casting both Gelula and Miller through Instagram. The critically-acclaimed feature debut virtually premiered at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival.
Stars Raiff, Gelula, and Miller sat down with The Knockturnal via Zoom to discuss the inspiration behind S#!%house, embodying their respective characters, and what’s next.
The Knockturnal: I loved, loved, loved your film. Cooper, I am obsessed with your vision and work right now. It’s crazy to me how old you are. I wanted to talk a little about the process of getting your first feature off the ground, connecting with producer Jay Duplass, and what the upcoming VOD premiere means to you?
Cooper Raiff: I made a movie the spring break of my sophomore year in college with some friends and then we put that on YouTube, and then I tweeted the link to Jay Duplass. The movie was made with three people. We were booming in scenes we were acting in, and it looked really bad because the person who was filming it had never held a camera before. But it had certain parts that made it into S#!%house and I think Jay related to the story, so from there we got lunch, and then we kind of talked about making it into an actual feature with more than three people. And now it’s premiering next week and it’s super awesome. I feel super lucky and grateful that people are going to see it.
The Knockturnal: I feel really lucky and grateful that I got to see it ahead of time. But for both Logan and Dylan, I wanted to discuss what drew you guys to the film? I think S#!%house really captures a unique moment that most people experience at a time in their lives. I wanted to speak about your personal attachment to the roles.
Dylan Gelula: I just thought it was well-written. That’s kind of the end of my criteria for me to be part of something. But I also understood who this person was and thought I could do something with it, and thought it would be fun to try at it.
Logan Miller: For me, Dylan had contacted me through Instagram about the project, and once I had spoken to Cooper and knew who was involved, that the Duplasses were producing it and stuff, I immediately wanted to join in. And any chance I can get to be a belligerent drunk onscreen, I’ll take– especially when I get to shit my pants as well. I love any chance I can do to make myself look like a complete idiot onscreen. So yeah, I felt very drawn to that.
The Knockturnal: Well you take the title quite literally, which is good. And Dylan, I wanted to dive in a little about your character. Like you said, it was extremely well-written, but the film too, where a “normal” movie would probably end with this magical evening, you get to see the aftermath and what the reality of some whimsical college night would actually look like. So being this complex female lead in it, how did you and Cooper work together to make sure that your character was really well-rounded?
Dylan Gelula: I think that’s just on the page. I think that that’s what the whole movie is about: two people’s perspectives on how one thing goes. You look so familiar to me!
The Knockturnal: Me? I have no idea, I live in New York, went to Tisch…
Dylan Gelula: We went to summer camp together…Yeah, I don’t know. Sorry. I mean, that’s just all on the page. That’s what the whole movie is about. That was the easy part.
The Knockturnal: Moving from your reception at SXSW and then kind of being taken under the wing of Indiewire and a lot of other publications that really heralded this movie as being the new Richard Linklater-esque influence speaking to this next generation, how has that impacted any of your respective careers?
Cooper Raiff: I mean, I didn’t have any kind of career and I still don’t. It’s been so awesome hearing that anybody likes the movie, like Indiewire especially. The review that [critic] David Ehrlich wrote was the first time I had ever seen anybody talk about S#!%house at all, outside of my family members, and so that was just like such an incredible day. After that day I just felt so safe and comfortable with the movie going out into the world, and just being seen by people outside of my family members. It’s just been so, so nice.
Logan Miller: It was a great light at the end of the tunnel. Right now, as things have kind of breached to a halt, it’s nice to kind of have this in the back, knowing that something great that we created is going to get out there for everybody to witness. Seeing the reception is just…you can only just be proud of the work.
The Knockturnal: And Dylan, is it similar for you?
Dylan Gelula: Logan said it all.
The Knockturnal: I do want to speak a little bit about what’s next for you guys in your respective endeavors heading into 2021.
Logan Miller: We’ve got Escape Room 2 coming out. Thankfully we were able to get that done right before COVID hit. We’re still trying to figure out reshoots, so I feel like that’ll come out the middle or end of next year, but yeah, as far as that, I’m trying to work on some personal projects. Hopefully something sticks and we can get back to the way things were.
The Knockturnal: That’s probably the goal for most people. Dylan and Cooper, what about you?
Dylan Gelula: I’m working on some stuff that hasn’t been announced or anything but is happening, and then some stuff that I would like to happen but probably never will. And then I’m going to go to grad school.
Cooper Raiff: And she has a podcast called “Lecture Hall” that just came out.
Dylan Gelula: That’s true.
Cooper Raiff: It’s really funny.
Dylan Gelula: Thank you.
Cooper Raiff: And then there’s definitely nothing that I’m going to be in or do that’s going to come out in 2021. For sure. So I got nothing.
The Knockturnal: You can’t keep putting yourself down! You’re literally a SXSW Grand Jury Narrative winner. You got it all in the palm of your hand. But that is it for me, thank you guys so much. Congratulations again!
Cooper Raiff: This is amazing. Thank you so much, bye!
“S#!%house” is now in theaters and available on demand.