Mystery Team was one of the best comedies I saw last year. Unfortunately, it didn’t get the wide release (or even much of a limited release) that I was hoping for so a lot of people who wanted to see it in theaters weren’t able to. That changes today as the film has now been released on DVD, digital download, On Demand, and video game consoles. You’re going to want to see this movie as soon as possible so you can say you got in on the ground floor of what I think will be a big cult comedy.
Last week, I got to do a conference call with stars Dominic Dierkes, Donald Glover, and DC Pierson. The three not only star in the film but they co-wrote it with their fellow DERRICK comedy members Dan Eckman (who also directed the film) and Meggie McFadden (who also produced the film). I talked with the guys about various topics including their attempts to get the film out in theaters, what their future plans are, what Glover (who stars on NBC’s Community) hopes will happen with his character next season, and Pierson and I briefly nerd out about Magic: The Gathering.
Hit the jump to check out the interview.
Before I begin, here’s a quick synopsis: Mystery Team follows the adventures of three high-school virgins who are stuck solving childish whodunit mysteries in their neighborhood. But when these bumbling boy detectives are tasked to investigate a real murder, they see the ultimate opportunity to prove themselves once and for all.
Thanks you all for doing this. I re-watched the film on DVD and it holds up great.
DOMINIC DIERKES: Oh thanks, man. Thanks.
I want to ask you guys some questions about your individual projects, but before I do I wanted to know what the distribution of this film was like? It was picked up by Roadside Attractions at Sundance but then it seemed like you guys were doing all the work in trying to get it out there by asking people to demand it.
DIERKES: Yeah, that about…I mean we were…where Roadside Attractions picked it up we…with the move to demand, it we were just trying to get a gauge for where people wanted to see this movie because we knew we had a very…we had a limited release budget to work with, so we were just trying to get it where we knew kids would be excited to see it and yeah, as far as doing a lot of the work of it we were on the ground and at least one of us were at pretty much every screening that happened in opening weekends for every one of these markets like were on the road for like 3 weeks straight in like Iowa, Florida and everything like that. So it was cool because we got to meet a lot of the people who were actively trying to find out where this movie was playing and then subsequently showing up.
Cool. Yeah, and I believe there was something called Sword Club and there’s a special feature on the disc for it that was a bunch of names but for those people that don’t know, I was wondering if you guys could explain what that was?
DC PIERSON: It was basically for people who the movie twice, they would get a sword with an inspiration quote on it. And Dominic said we were able to be there and to do that. We were kind of excited about like the DVD actually. There’s no really like context provided for it, so if you don’t know what it is like if already you weren’t part of it, it’s kind of like a thank-you because it really was that time and those talents and those people that were a part of it, so we’re sort of excited about the idea that like if you got the DVD and you had no idea what it was, and you’re like Sword Club, like who are these people? And that’s very pleasing to us for some reason. I don’t know why but I think it’s fun.
No, it is. That’s very cool. You have people sort of having a memento to be…to say that you were part of something. Actually, I was also wondering, are there any plans on the horizon for a new Derek movie?
DIERKES: We’re actively…basically just actively trying to come up with the next idea where we’re just as excited about as we were when Mystery Team was brought to the table because we know that that’s the only way we know we’re going to be able to see an project through is if we get it. If we’re as excited about it because it is such an arduous long process to create a film like that. So we’re…yeah there are plans for a next movie and we’re actively trying to get …to figure out how…what that next video is going be.
PIERSON: I mean Mystery Team like honestly like part of its journey is just beginning. Not only because the release was on the road at one town at a time and whatever and now on DVD like it’s really read to have its first life with a lot of people and it’s about to have its first life with a lot of people that have been excited about it and a lot of the people that have been e-mailing about it for about two years now ever since we stopped making videos in 2008 to go shoot the movie. So we’re still excited to see how that plays out honestly. It is kind of crazy to us that you know like it’s been almost 3 years now and its life is only almost just beginning in a way, so while we are planning to do DERRICK stuff for the rest of our lives, we’re sort of for the moment I think on one level let Mystery Team go out there and see what happens with it.
It’s funny, when I was re-watching the film and I went back and watched some of you all’s sketches and I sort of noticed a common thread about taking sort of these pure and sweet ideas and then completely plunging them into darkness. I was wondering if that was you all comic sensibility from the start of if that’s developed as you all have been a group over time?
DIERKES: I think that is a theme as always. You trusted us but I also think that that idea is so much a part of the movie that that’s how we saw exploring this specific idea…these G-rated characters in the R-rated world. They were very much, even more so than our sketches, just really trying to show these innocent characters in this kind of deeper and seedier place. But I think it’s still definitely something we enjoy doing is taking a seemingly-nice event and fucking it up a little bit.
Right. Actually, you know because also with your latest sketch sort of making fun of Web 2.0 but then that ending comes along and it’s somewhat disturbing.
PIERSON: Yeah, and I think that we’re big fans of sort of sci-fi and fantasy and like being lost like brings to mind certainly. But things where there’s sort of a deeper, weirder underlying explanation like a conspiratorial explanation for things is really appealing to us. And I think that this is sort of naturally sort of manifests itself.
I also know there was a 5-month gap between your last 2 sketches and I was hoping that the fans, myself included, won’t have to endure another 5 months before the next one.
PIERSON: Well, on the one hand we made another one when we were making this first video. And so that’s going to be coming out in the next couple weeks. It’s like weird conspiratorial-Lost-level thing but on another level we do like making the sketches and we want to continue to so for the our lives basically in this collaboration, but like part of me and guys feel free to agree or disagree, but we’re all pretty much on the same page like kind of likes the fact that we’ve only made maybe 40 videos in our like career as a sketch comedy group. And for the most part everyone else on YouTube is kind of a video a week thing and I really like the like I’m proud of every single one of the videos we’ve made and at no point do I feel like we’re being blown about by the wind of like, “Let’s try to be extremely topical,” or whatever like we’re really just kind of when we can get together, which is pretty rarely because we all have a lot of stuff going on, like we like to make really weird specific shit that sort of stayed in our minds for years on end. So I kind of like how, you know, we like to get stuff out there as quickly as possible and thanks for saying you like to see it, but on one hand I kind of like that it takes that long.
DIERKES: Yeah, but we’re never in a mindset of like let’s make a way for it but we are definitely in a mindset of let’s make sure that we have the time to do it right and we’re not just making a sketch because it’s been 3 weeks since our last one and whatever idea happens to be around we’re going to make. We’ve always tried to only make the sketches if we feel like…if we need it we’re genuinely like really stoked to shoot it another time and resources to do it correctly.
Okay. You mentioned Lost and you mentioned that the next sketch is time travel and conspiratorial. Is it Lost-related?
GROUP: No, it’s not.
PIERSON: Although if I can be honest with you, like everything and the other guys would probably agree like everything in my mind is weirdly Lost related.
DONALD GLOVER: so most of our sketches have to do with Lost and it’s just like that’s what was on our minds.
PIERSON: We had this sketch called “Don’t Jerk Off to This,” which every time I talk about it I tell people it’s a Lost homage which is totally not the traditional word. There’s not going to be Lost reference in it at all. There’s not even any sci-fi shit in it really. It’s just kind of in my head it just feels Lost-esque.
GLOVER: Like you have so many questions like you understand why people are doing things and it’s a weird dark feeling, which we love Lost.
Oh, me too.
PIERSON: There’s no reason why any of our sketches couldn’t take place in the Lost universe (inaudible).
DC, I love your book “The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To” and I was wondering if you, and I read your short stories on your blog and I was just wondering if you had any plans for a new novel?
PIERSON: Um, yeah. I’m actually working on the next one right now. I don’t really want to say too much about it because of various reasons but yeah, I’m actively working on the next one.
Okay. There’s just things…and I was wondering also if that book you kind drew from personal experiences because there were things that I recognized from my life from it just particularly a line that jumps out at me is “you’re a really good drawer” which is to me just rings so true and I was wondering how much of that is the book you drew from personal experience?
PIERSON: A lot of it is like and I think it was a combination of like of sort of personal experience and being sort of a kid who was almost especially in elementary school and middle school almost like too nerdy for any of even like the nerd cliques that you would have and weird like in your own world and yeah, I was the kind of kid where I would be like drawing and the kid would be like interested and you would have this weird, lame nerdy kid standing around and they’re not really interested like patronizing you. Just wondering when we would play like Magic: The Gathering in middle school. It’s like some kid would be like, “How do you play that?” and you’d be like “You don’t really want to know.” And a weird haughty, huffy like nerd kid and then sort of combining that actual like you know growing up stuff like that with sort of the thing that those kids would be interested in if they had a real life, you know what I mean?
No, absolutely. I can relate to the Magic: The Gathering thing.
PIERSON: (laughter) Nice. I just went home this weekend actually and looked my Magic cards and they’re gone. I don’t know what happened to them. I think someone like threw them out. Someone doesn’t appreciate gaming.
Yeah, they have it on Xbox Live and it’s, uh…
PIERSON: Do they? Oh man.
Yeah, and they have all the new rules that I don’t understand. But okay,…
PIERSON: Oh really? Yeah, I’m way behind.
GLOVER: I can’t hear what you guys are talking about because I’m too busy making out with a girl.
PIERSON: Shut up, man! Shut up!
Okay, Donald if I could just pull you away from making out with a girl, I just wanted to talk to you about Community a little bit because it’s one of my favorite shows this past year. I love it and a lot of people I know love it and I was wondering sort of what your favorite episode was from this past year and what you’d like to see Troy do next season?
GLOVER: Favorite episode is pretty easy: the paint ball.
GLOVER: If somebody were to say that’s not their favorite episode, they have not been watching the show. The paint ball episode is just….it’s personally…it’s like one of my favorite episodes of television. Probably just because I had so much fun on the set but yeah it was really fun and I really think it’s good. Troy, I want…I think we’re just kind of finding out a lot about Troy. Like I think it’s pretty obvious that he doesn’t like football that much. I think he hasn’t talked about it since he did it the first time that he doesn’t do things like sports is not his thing. Like I think he was a character who was just sort of told to do football because he was good at it and now he’s lost that and he’s really figuring out who he is. So I really just want to see him be like be…I think the very kid he kind of was supposed to be if he wasn’t pushed into this life of a star athlete. I think he would be like, not like a smart nerd by any means, but probably one of those, you know, your dumb nerds. Who like certain video games and stuff like that. I think I would love to see him just try out for more good things.
I also love the closers you and Danny [Pudi] do at the end of each episode. I was wondering how those come about?
GLOVER: Our writers usually write those. Like the writers will come up with something but sometimes they’re completely improv-ed, sometimes they were just like asked to improv and stuff but most of the time they’re written and they’re written for each tightly and when they get to stage we just play around with them and see what works and stuff like that. It’s really loose, but they are hugely the writers coming up with a premise, writing it and then we bring it down and just improv the parts that aren’t really working.
Well, I want to thank you guys so much for taking the time to talk with me and I definitely do think that this is going to be a big cult comedy now that it’s on DVD. I’m going to be showing it to some friends next weekend.
Yeah, just thank you guys so much for talking to me and congratulations on the film.