"Hoot" Director Wil Shriner on What It Takes to Be Funny
- Tuesday, May 02, 2006
CW: It’s great not to see any of the usual scatological humor that so many directors insist on including in children’s films.
Wil: Yeah, we don’t have any poop jokes in this. No farting, either. And you know, content is important. I’ve held my daughter's ears and eyes in a number of PG movies. There’s a certain amount of content I just do not want her to see. Back in the day when I did stand-up comedy, people used to say, ‘Hey, that would be funny if you’d add an expletive,’ and I’d say, ‘Yeah, but I don’t need it.’ So often, you don’t. It’s just there. I’ve been on Jay Leno maybe 15 times and done, oh, maybe 35 Letterman shows because I was able to do material with clean content.
CW: How much fun did you have making a movie with Jimmy Buffett?
Wil: Jimmy’s great. I’m a huge fan. He truly has figured life out. Here’s a guy who’s very successful in everything he does. He’s a restaurateur, he’s a bestselling author, he’s a great pilot, a great fisherman. He owns food companies. He has record labels. Jimmy works hard. Now I’ve toured as a comic, and it’s very hard. You’re away from your things, you’re in a hotel. But for most comics, the happiest hour of their life is in front of the camera. And Jimmy is happy singing. But when he’s not singing, he’s living the dream. He hops in his seaplane and goes down to Florida, where he jumps in his kayak and paddles around. He’s always growing.
CW: How did you meet?
Wil: We met up in the Redwoods. We started talking about gadgets and now, we’re always trying to 'out-gadget' one another. I’ll say, ‘Hey, look at this new cell phone!’ and Jimmy will say, ‘No, I’ve got one better! Look. It’s a Broadband.’ Finally I said, ‘Jimmy, this is not a competition. You’ve got your own jet, okay?’ But this is a guy who never stops bettering himself. He’s a naturally curious person. It’s one of the things we have in common. You could drop both of us anywhere, and we’d talk to people. It comes with the territory, though. If you’re not curious, you’re not going to be a good writer.
CW: Is there a message in this film?
Wil: The message in our movie is that kids are smart, and they can make a difference. They can empower change, whether it’s saving the owls or some other part of the environment. If kids don’t care about throwing stuff into the canal and recycling, I’ll be dead and gone and my kids’ kids will be facing it. It’s up to young people to stand up and clean up – or at least make some kind of transition. The planet is getting smaller and smaller and our resources are getting fewer and fewer.
CW: Do you drive an SUV?
Wil: No, I don’t! I drive a Vespa, believe it or not. I fill that thing up and scoot around town and it costs me $4. It’s great. And I do have a car, an old Mercedes, but it gets 35 miles to the gallon. It still costs me $70 to fill up, though. I remember when we used to fly up to Santa Barbara [from Los Angeles] for lunch. We used to call that the $50 hamburger. Now it would be a $300 hamburger. So we have to find some new ways of energy, whether it’s wind power or solar power. We can no longer rely on oil. If you’re flying airplanes and running boats, though, you’re relying on oil.
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