When “Project X” hits theaters on March 2, audiences will get to see a different kind of party movie. Directed by Nima Nourizadeh in his feature length film debut, “Project X” uses a first person, hand held camera point of view to bring the viewer inside of the chaos.
Produced by Todd Phillips—who knows a thing or two about the genre, being the man who has brought us “Old School” and “The Hangover” franchise, among others—the film uses mostly unknown actors to achieve a much more authentic feel when it comes to the casting aspect. It stars Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, and Jonathan Daniel Brown as three high school seniors who throw a party, attempting to shed their geeky images and gain some notoriety, not bargaining for how the end result could get so out of control.
But a movie like this, which hinges on the outrageousness of the situation and the aspect of kids behaving badly while the music pounds away and helicopters circle above, can be made or broken once you get past the premise—and the dirty jokes and gratuitous nudity–and look for a little heart.
Much of that job falls to Kirby Bliss Blanton, whose self-described role as the tomboy friend of the group (who is also named Kirby) and eventual love interest of Thomas gets to be the glue of “Project X” as it occasionally segues away from the madness of this outsized bash.
The 21 year old Blanton’s early credits include guest spots on “Unfabulous,” Zoey 101,” “Entourage,” and a two episode stint on “Hannah Montana.” Her recent work includes a transition to the big screen with “Scar” and “Ball Don’t Lie.” Her promotional work for the movie has included a “Girls of ‘Project X’” spread for Maxim, alongside co-stars Nichole Bloom and Anna Sophia Berglund.
Film Slate Magazine caught up with Blanton while she was in L.A., as she discussed the making of “Project X,” what she looks for when she’s picking out projects, and how people should not attempt any of the stunts that they see in this movie.
Film Slate Magazine: How did you get this role? Was it the usual audition process, or were the casting people looking for you specifically?
Kirby Bliss Blanton: For a comedy, they had a pretty rigorous audition process. It’s funny, Todd Phillips really wanted to make sure…he wanted this movie to be as genuine as possible, so he had actually done a talent search. It was worldwide, so everyone wanted to be a part of it. I remember that the first audition that I went to, they had finally decided that they were going to go with actors, but they also wanted unknown actors, which, at that point, I was so excited.
It’s really important, I think to pave the way for new actors because there’s only so much you can see of the same person over and over, doing the same exact rom-com thing, that are all very similar. So it was really exciting for me to at least get a chance and go in there, and do something fresh and new. And all the people involved were very adamant about finding people that weren’t just names or didn’t have a show or whatever, because that happens so often where people like us don’t even get a chance to go in there and show what we can do because they get someone who’s attached to this project or because they have a name.
FSM: And then if you get that kind of cast, then a lot of times, it makes for a different kind of movie, doesn’t it?
KB: Absolutely. The best part about this movie is that once the audition process was over, which was a couple of weeks, it was funny because we kind of went back in and re-wrote a lot of things about us, now that they knew us. In fact, in some of the rehearsals we got to improv, and then we’d come back the next day to rehearse and that was written in, part of the improv stuff, so which was neat because it makes you feel even more part of the film. And you get to be yourself, or bring your own part of your personality to it.
FSM: When you first read a script, do you look at your character, do you look at how everything fits together with the story? What do you look for?
KB: The story is most important. If it doesn’t have a good story, there’s really no point in reading it. Second of all, I just want for the character, it has to be something I can relate to, and something that I think will either stand out on its own and be memorable, as well as the movie and the storyline.
I always want to do something different, and something that’s challenging, and I’m all over the board. I want to do the dramatic stuff, I want to be the crazy person, the “Girl, Interrupted” status, I want to be the funny person because I think I’m hilarious, and I definitely want to do all of that action stuff too. So I have a wide very variety of things that I want to do but I kind of just know when I read it. You read it and you can kind of just—I’ll know when it’s worth my time or not.
FSM: And when you’re doing a movie like that, did it help that it was shot in the hand held style–that found footage aspect?
KB: It just gives us a lot of freedom. It’s shot from the perspective of a person that was there, which had its pros and cons. At one point, in some of the scenes, people who are actually being filmed don’t know that the camera’s there—only in certain scenes, though—which gives a really different kind of feel to it…
It’s also great because it gave us a lot of…it’s more intimate, I think. At that point, you don’t even really get to see who’s filming it much. I feel bad, because he had gone through just as rigorous of an audition process as us. His name is Dax Flame and he’s actually this big YouTube sensation, and he says something at one point, because it’s so funny because Thomas, who’s the lead guy, says something to him and he says, ‘I don’t want to break the fourth wall.’ Which, I don’t know, it’s funny when he does it. It’s perfect for the film because it’s true; it’s supposed to be the audience is peeping into these kids’ lives. And you just get to see this one little part where this party happens.
FSM: If you’re doing a movie like this—the chaotic aspects of this gigantic party—what was the vibe on set? Was it pretty controlled or were there elements that were like, ‘alright, let’s just do this and see where it goes?’
KB: It was pretty controlled. We had great people involved who’ve done a lot of films so I think when (executive producer) Joel Silver is on set, everybody stays on their best behavior. But the funny part is, there were two weeks when we were doing night shoots when we were filming all of the party scenes and when you have 100-200-some odd extras, you can’t really keep them all in line so, it was funny because I remember the ADs were just screaming out, but you can’t…you give the kids music and all that stuff, they’re going to think that they’re at a real party, which is great because that’s what we want.
We want them to be enjoying themselves but then it makes the work environment kind of funny. I remember where I got really tired because at one point we were just dancing for three minutes straight. And that sounds like it’s not a long time, but when a camera is on you, and you’re supposed to look good and you get tired…it was really funny, but I guess that I shouldn’t be complaining, because some of the other kids had to be in fire, and water and all of this other stuff.
FSM: And all you had to do was dance and sweat a little bit.
KB: (Laughing) Yeah, exactly. But hey, it was good for the film. That’s another thing. I think the extras are going to love being able to go see this because they’re a part of it and they even have…a lot of the people that I met on the film are featured big time. It makes it seem like it’s an actual school because all of the kids that are there are featured a bunch and it’s not just—you know how TV and film these days, you literally only see the main characters, and the extras aren’t even allowed to look into the camera—it’s great because the kids that were involved really got to be involved as opposed to just making background noise.
FSM: And you had a first time director, Nima Nourizadeh.
KB: He was great. He visually made this film. The film has a lot to offer, for younger kids, it’s a party film, but on top of being really entertaining and funny, visually it’s amazing. Because there’s some action, and even when there’s nothing going on, when it’s just the kids partying or whatever, it looks like a music video, which is what he’s actually known for doing.
They definitely got him specifically because viewing this through someone else’s eyes is important. Obviously, the kid is going around filming it but also he’s supposed to be some AV geek so they’re trying to make it look really good, and that’s kind of the concept we went with. And he’s just so good at what he does. Any time we had anything even slightly visually appealing he made it ten times more…the aspect he brought to the table was amazing.
FSM: Any final thoughts?
KB: I know the soundtrack is really great, so I definitely want everybody to go buy that. I think it will be good for young people, and I think it’ll be really fun to go see. They should have one of those warnings at the beginning of the film, ‘Please do not try anything that you see on this,’ because I’m worried that people are going to try and outdo themselves. But it’s kind of absurd, and it’s kind of exaggerated in itself, but hopefully people will have common sense.