Remember that totally safe-for-work Grand Theft Auto V short film that united the internet behind its awesomeness earlier this week? Of course you do. In just seven minutes, the Corridor Digital original "GTA VR" managed to bring Trevor Philips' insanity to life with some help from the real Trevor Philips himself, Mr. Steven Ogg. Maybe you watched it while avoiding actual work at your boring-ass job. Maybe you watched it at school. Hell, if you're the sort of person into activities like raising tiny humans (i.e. kids) of your own, you might have showed it to them over dinner that night and was all "See? This is what happens when you follow dreams!" or whatever. What I'm saying is: This is a very good short film.
The short was helmed by Adrian Picardi, a director and cinematographer whose previous work includes the Battlefield-inspired miniseries Rush and the recently wrapped short "Lemon Cove." Picardi is also the co-founder of Aureus Grex, a film/television/web collective that simply aims to create "moving pictures." As "GTA VR" zoomed past 5 million views on YouTube, we reached out to Picardi to see how this rare slice of YouTubery came together. Peep that conversation below.
Walk us through how this came together.
It was actually quite serendipitous. Sunny, [our producer] Derrick, and I were playing an online heist mission in GTA V one evening when out of the blue, Steven [Ogg] hits me up and informs us that he's visiting L.A. for a week. He wanted to shoot something fun while down here and we instantly knew what we had to do regardless of how little time we had. From there we were off to the races with only a week to create a concept, write, and shoot the thing.
Have you previously worked with Corridor on other projects?
Yeah I've been collaborating with Corridor for a couple years now. I met Sam and Niko when I directed "The Division: Agent Origin" series. We hit it off pretty well which then led to me shooting their latest project Battlefield Rush for Go90—which is where I met Steven. The entire time on that project, I was so freaked out by Ogg because I couldn't help but associate his voice and likeness with his psychotic GTA V character.
A big part of what the entire fucking internet loved about this short was that it perfectly captures the tone of the video game. Was there any discussion behind the scenes on how to really honor the source material while pushing it forward?
Being huge fans of the game, we tried to squeeze in as much of the ridiculousness and hilarity that ensues while playing online. We knew we wanted the audience [and] fans to have a relatable experience, so we attempted to include as much of what we have come to know and love about GTA into the piece while also trying to create an engaging story.
Do you play GTA V on the regular?
Religiously. I beat the SP campaign on the 360 at first but ended up buying it again for the online mode on the PC because… PC.
What's your earliest video game memory?
Super Mario Bros on the original NES.
What's the worst video game movie adaptation you've ever seen?
I can say with complete confidence that there has yet to be a great video game film adaptation. I have high hopes for Assassin's Creed and I’m stoked about that Portal/Half-Life announcement. But if I had to narrow it down to the worst, let's just say Uwe Boll's House of the Dead. I can't stand Uwe Boll, not because he's a piece of shit but because he bought up movie rights to numerous games that I love solely to cash in on name recognition while simultaneously taking advantage of the German tax system. But hey, at least Boll used cuts from the actual video game as scene transitions. That ought to keep the fans happy, right?
Speaking of that, the 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie is pretty widely panned but is, in my opinion, kind of a fascinating watch.
It's great if you're inebriated. Horrible when sober.
If real life was just a free roam territory with zero consequences à la GTA V, what's the very first thing you would do?
Suffice to say I would make Trevor look like Mr. Rogers.
In a perfect world, we'd be talking about a full-length GTA V movie right now. Would you take the job?
Who the hell wouldn't?