Tribeca: 'Intramural' Writer, Director on Improvising 'Epic Tales of Glory'

Tribeca Film Festival

The indie sports comedy stars "Saturday Night Live's" Kate McKinnon, Jay Pharoah and Beck Bennett alongside "Twilight" alum Nikki Reed.

"I just thought, let's make these guys as sad and pathetic as possible. And there's nothing more sad and pathetic than a fifth-year senior."

It was that thought process that Intramural screenwriter Bradley Jackson tells The Hollywood Reporter partly influenced the characters he created for the indie sports comedy about fifth-year seniors competing in an intramural football game.

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Speaking at the film's Tribeca premiere Monday night Jackson said he thought there was something sad but amusing about fifth-year college students.

"There's something vulnerable about that nature because you should have graduated by now, but you're like one step away from being forced out into the real world with responsibilities and jobs and all that depressing stuff, so there was something dramatic and funny about that," Jackson told THR.

But he said the main idea for the movie came from his love of sports films and his experiences in college with friends who played intramural sports.

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"When I was in college in Austin, a bunch of my friends were playing intramural sports, and they would come home with these epic tales of glory, and I always thought that was funny," Jackson said. "I just thought that's a great movie, a movie about intramural sports. And there's no other movies out there about intramural sports, and that in and of itself needed to be rectified, so I thought that was my job."

Intramural stars Saturday Night Live standouts Kate McKinnon, Jay Pharoah and newcomer Beck Bennett, who filmed the movie before he joined SNL this season, alongside Twilight alum Nikki Reed.

Reed became interested in the project after reading the script, which she said made her laugh out loud by herself. But when she got a video from Jackson and director Andrew Disney convincing her to sign on, she knew she'd be in for a summer full of improv, silliness and comedic education.

Indeed, Disney said, they did do a lot of improv, noting that he had a rule that everyone had to give him two takes with the script and then they could improvise a scene.

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Disney, who met Jackson through mutual friends in Texas, ended up shooting a lot of improvised takes, particularly for gifted performers like McKinnon.

"With someone like Kate I'd try to give her like 10 takes, like as many as I could because you just don't know what you're going to get," he said. "She is so fun and unpredictable. I remember there's this one part at the very end of the film where she grabs an extra and starts making out with him."

McKinnon has already shown off memorable impressions of Ellen DeGeneres and Justin Bieber on SNL but she wouldn't tell THR what roles she hasn't played yet that she'd still like to.

"I still have some tricks up my sleeve, and I need to keep them a secret," she said.