Michael Ratner’s second short film “LiL DPC 2: The Life of A Don” starring himself and rap icon Fat Joe is due for release this spring. The 21-year-old co-founder of Ratner Group Films not only acts, directs, writes and produces, but is also a Penn senior and we have the first exclusive sit-down interview with the LiL DPC star who’s about to take Hollywood by storm. Interviewed by Nikki Pepperman.
What inspired you to create a short film?
I’ve been making amateur movies since I was in middle school and I started getting serious about it in college when I chose film as my major. This past summer while I was in acting school I began working on this idea in which I could play the lead role. I’m a natural at playing a white Jewish boy. I knew digital short was the way to go because it’s relatively inexpensive to produce and easy to get out to the public.
Who do you admire most in the field?
I really look up to The Lonely Island— Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone. Judd Apatow. Growing up I lived off Adam Sandler movies. Over the past few years I’ve really developed an appreciation for Chaplin and the art of physical comedy. I’m also a huge Woody Allen fan.
What gave you the idea for LiL DPC?
My brother and I had been talking about starting up a production company for a few years. Over the summer we were messing around making a song on GarageBand and since the lyrics were so outrageous he encouraged me to create a character to sing it. We had “Hung Like A Hero,” and I had the perfect character – LiL DPC was born.
Explain the filming process, we’re dying to know the behind the scenes scoop.
After “Hung Like A Hero” was written, I wrote the DPC script over a 2-week period. From there we pitched the idea to the co-stars and filmed it during the fall semester in New York. We have a pretty good time on set, a lot of joking around and stuff you’d expect, but when the cameras start rolling we’re all business.
What’s it like writing for, directing, and acting toe-to-toe with celebrities: a bona fide rock star, a Soprano, a gangster rapper?
Fun. Humbling. They’re all incredible people to work with. Mark Hoppus is like a big kid; it’s impossible not to feed off of his energy. Steve Schirripa is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. I don’t know how he masked that for all those seasons of the Sopranos. I guess Bobby Bacala wasn’t about to crack jokes to Tony Soprano. And Fat Joe really is the full package; he’s a star. Our chemistry on set takes scenes to comedic places we didn’t even intend. I go from directing him and telling him what I need one second to slipping into character and rolling without hesitation the next because he just gets it, he understands the vision. It really shines through in DPC 2. The whole cast really is amazing.
Now that you’re a movie star, how has fame affected you on Locust?
I take Walnut to class and I wear sunglasses and a protective cup.
With the girls flocking, what’s your favorite pickup line to the ladies?
Easy. “Do you wanna see why I was cast as a character with the theme song ‘Hung Like A Hero’?” Then again, I do hate to disappoint so I don’t use it too often.
Where do you envision LiL DPC going?
I have really high hopes. After all the buzz it got in the hip-hop community, Fat Joe was more excited than anyone to keep this thing going. We filmed “LiL DPC 2: The Life of A Don” this February and are set to release it with the official music video for “Hung Like A Hero (Remix)” featuring Fat Joe in early Spring 2011— the remix will be available on iTunes. I think we’re going to shock a lot of people, not only with the production level but also with the direction of the film. We increased Fat Joe’s part dramatically and shot it down on his home turf in Miami. Hip-hop comedy is really in right now. We’re all fully invested in this and we are pitching the series to networks this summer.
What in particular interests you in production?
I love everything from concept to screen. I write, produce, direct, and act in DPC. That being said, it’s a lot of work, especially while still in school, and although I can’t imagine giving up any one of those roles, I know I’ll eventually have to. At the moment, we have a team of five young ambitious students doing nearly everything from wardrobe to marketing. As we expand and our projects vary, we’ll have the right people in place to make the best movies we possibly can.
Are there more movies in the works?
Yeah, we have a ton of concepts we want to produce but we are taking it one by one. Some of them have larger budgets than others and we are selective in choosing projects that we feel we can produce up to their full potential at the moment. Right now we are fully focused on the post-production of “LiL DPC 2: The Life of A Don,” which will be available in early Spring at our website www.LiLDPC.com.
Last question: Describe your personality – are you always so funny?
“LiL DPC 2: The Life of A Don” and the “Hung Like A Hero (Remix)” music video starring Michael Ratner and Fat Joe are available Spring 2011 exclusively at www.YouTube.com/LiLDPCofficial.
Visit www.LiLDPC.com to watch “LiL DPC: The World of Richard P. Cummings Jr.”
Like LiL DPC at fb.com/LiLDPC
Follow @LiLDPC on Twitter
For the latest news on future Ratner Group films, visit fb.com/RatnerGroup