The sci-fi comedy Save Yourselves! had Sundance audiences laughing just as hard as Palm Springs and The Climb, and the team behind the film had me in stitches as well when they stopped by the Kia Telluride Supper Suite in Park City to discuss their alien invasion movie.
John Reynolds (Search Party) and Sunita Mani (GLOW) star as a couple who head to upstate New York and disconnect their phones in order to reconnect with each other. Unfortunately, they picked a bad time to turn off their phones — an alien invasion is under way.
Save Yourselves! hails from real-life couple Alex Huston Fischer and Eleanor Wilson, who wrote and directed the film. “I think we all have a bit of a fear of turning off our phones and something bad happening, and so we were just kind of like, ‘what’s the worst thing?,’ and we thought, ‘aliens!’ It was really just a very basic premise,” admitted Wilson.
“Alex and I started brainstorming ideas and writing it, and the more we got into it, the more it became a deeper-themed movie, but also a very, very funny comedy,” she added. The two had worked together in different capacities, hiring each other when possible, but this was they first time they had written and directed a movie together. Fischer and Mani had worked together quite a bit, however, having first met in 2004 in Emerson College in Boston.
I wanted to hear more about their early friendship, but we got off topic when I mentioned the Emerson Mafia, which includes Collider’s own Thadd Williams. Reynolds, who said he “went went to a few different colleges and dropped out,” rolled his eyes at the makeshift college reunion, saying to those in the Supper Suite “if anyone else is from Emerson, now is the time!”
The clear class clown of the bunch, Reynolds said he knew Mani from the comedy scene in New York and was a big fan of the script. When I asked the filmmakers how they “locked down” John Early to co-star, fanboying out as if he was Daniel Day-Lewis, Reynolds couldn’t help but laugh, as the two of them star in Search Party together. In fact, it was Early who helped “lock down” Reynolds by introducing him to the filmmakers.
Mani was just proud to make a movie with her friends, and see them in a new light. “You know when you hear other people talk about your parents, and you see them in through different people’s eyes? It was really lovely to see friends through different angles, and just be so in awe again.”
Wilson explained that while the aliens in Save Yourselves! are after something tangible, she and Fischer actively tried to avoid going down “that road of sci-fi where the hero discovers the thing and saves the day.”
Fischer elaborated. “In the apocalypse-type movies I loved from the ’90s like Independence Day and Armageddon, they figure out what’s gonna cause the world to end, they learn about it, and then they solve it. And that was a great ’90s feeling. Everything was optimistic if you lived in the States. And now, we’re a little more aware that offshore oil drillers aren’t going to save us a from a meteor hitting the planet, and a guy from the CIA isn’t gonna outsmart the aliens invading, even though Jeff Goldblum was great. We were just trying to make a more realistic movie. But I do love both those movie,” he insisted.
In the event of an actual alien invasion, Mani said she wasn’t sure whether her and her husband would try to get back to their apartment, or just “run and die.” What she does know is that she would probably avoid the subway. And frankly, I can’t blame her.
“You could find a Walmart and lock it down, or could get a squad of people who know how to do different things. You could also go squat by the water,” said Reynolds, who had his head in the right place. Water would, indeed, be very important in the event of a global catastrophe, so I’d probably stay close to him… even he did audition for GLOW and fail to get the part.
Fischer lamented having to cut a joke from the script that found a friend asking the protagonists if they still had their air mattress, which could be used as a raft. That’s another example of the kind of creative thinking that might benefit you in the middle of an emergency. Clearly, we can learn a lot from Save Yourselves!, and you can too, so watch the video above, because it just may be the difference between life and death one day.
Watch the interview above, and stay tuned to Collider for our Sundance supercut, in which dozens of artists offer their theories on the death of Cliff Booth’s wife in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and which categories they’d like to see added to the Oscars, as well as the TV shows they most recently binged, and the ones they’d love to guest star on.
Finally, we have to thank our presenting partner, the Kia Telluride SUV, which was recently named the 2020 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year. Additional thanks to support sponsors Glenfiddich Scotch, Peroni Beer, Marbl Toronto, mou footwear, ic! Berlin sunglasses and clothing lines, Laundry by Sheli Segal and Orginal Penguin.