We all know it: It’s the beginning of a relationship and you overanalyze everything. Every punctuation mark, every second that goes by when they don’t reply, the choice of emojis. Spirals are only natural. Most would frantically text a friend or fire off a thirst trap while waiting for a reply, but Machine Gun Kelly takes it to the next level: he’s writing an entire movie.
On Friday, Kelly (under his first name Colson Baker) and his best friend Mod Sun will release their directorial debut. good sorrow, a stoner comedy for the Instagram generation about a fictional movie star, London Clash, who derails on the day of the biggest audition of his life when his famous actress (played by Becky G) texts him “Good grief,” and he doesn’t answer anymore. Marijuana fueled mayhem ensues. The film is based on the exact same text message Baker once received from his Internet-famous actress (now fiancé) Megan Fox. By the time she wrote back, Baker and Sun had essentially written the full script of the scenario’s fictional sliding door (the real-life version was also filled with marijuana). But instead of leaving it as a stoner fever dream, the duo turned it into a real movie, starring the likes of Dove Cameron, Whitney Cummings, Pete Davidson and Fox himself.
Ahead of the film’s release, Baker and Sun hopped on Zoom to discuss the merits of spiraling, trying to cast Brad Pitt, and what they really think of superhero movies.
They are both very busy people. How was this thing first started?
Colson Baker: I got the “good sorrow” text from my now fiancee before we actually started dating and was really confused by it. And then she didn’t take her phone to Europe, where she left before sending the text message. I kind of just deciphered it, like, “OK, what does that mean?” I went to all my friends who weren’t in relationships and they tried to give me relationship advice, which totally backfired. Then my brain started going down the rabbit hole, so instead of going full-on, I decided to just write a movie. I texted Mod at 11:11 am saying, “Hey, do you want to write a movie?” and because it was that time, he said, “That must be a sign.” So he came over and we caught to write a film. Damn that [answer] was too long.
mod sun: No, that was great.
Are you both superstitious people?
CB: I am so convinced that there is God and aliens and all those things; universal language and synchronicity and coincidence… that’s too much. Especially past lives, all that shit. Everything is aligned for a reason and I feel like we are two vessels of creativity brought together for a reason and I feel that comedy is very over the top. My brain almost hurts trying to make sense of certain comedy now and I just want to laugh again at gags and things that are kinda like just turning off your brain but still being entertained by a great story.
MRS: So yes, you are superstitious.
CB: Jesus Christ. I need a sewing machine in my mouth.
Some would say that the art of straight stoner comedy has been lost for many years.
MRS: We kept telling ourselves that you get a great stoner comedy every five years, and we searched for it and thought, “Let’s just write one.”
Was that your intention when you sat down? Did you know from the start that you were going to sit down and write a stoner comedy?
MRS: I think [Baker] really wanted it to be a comedy. To be honest I was just a really great friend and wanted to take his mind off his relationship which he thought was falling apart, which wasn’t the case. It’s the human condition that what you don’t know [becomes] the story you create in your head. So that’s where my thoughts went. He really wanted to do a comedy and it sort of morphed into that and maybe lives in both worlds.
CB: Yes, and I was high. So naturally it became a stoner comedy because it was like life imitating art… I was just blown away.
How much did you text before you got a text back?
CB: The whole film was pretty much finished.
MRS: Dude, he turned really hard. I thought, “Let’s just keep writing and moving on.” So a lot of the film was written before it got any lyrics back.
How quick were you to admit to Megan that you wrote and wrote a movie? Which, by the way, is a new level of the spiral.
CB: Hey, high five! I texted her every minute. I didn’t get any answers. While I was writing a film on the computer, I was also writing a text film. I just said, “You don’t even know I’m writing a whole movie about it…”
MRS: Then we got a group of people together and broke the roof of the Roxy and recited it to a group of our friends and you were definitely still spinning. So I’m pretty sure we wrote the whole movie.
CB: I read her the whole film on her doorstep. She came back from that trip and before she even went into her own house with the bags, I said, “Stop right here. You did that by not answering me. ‘Page 1, London Clash waking up…'”
MRS: We’re really lucky you made it.
You are true proof that spirals can’t just work in one relationship, and now we have a movie to show you.
MRS: Another high five.
Was there ever a point where you thought, ‘Okay, we did this to take my mind off it. We’re not going to make a real movie out of this,” or –
MRS: Yes. We had a 130-page script and we thought, “But why did we write this stuff?”
CB: It stagnated for a few months. We tried to set it up.
MRS: Some people told us that there was no way they would let us direct a film. “Great script. There’s no chance you’re directing this.”
CB: Then they tried to get people to rewrite the script. They sent this one guy, we went and saw what they did. It was a five-star negative review film. I was like, “Homie, huh?” How do you think we couldn’t write anything better than what these motherfuckers…” It might have been Mod’s spiral that finally made us think, “Okay, we just gotta make this movie.” It restarted the whole thing.
Did you find actually directing the film more difficult than writing it?
CB: Certainly. Day 1, we were still figuring out the cast.
MRS: I thought there would be, I don’t know, maybe six to ten people on the set. Then we showed up on the first day and there are a lot of people there and I realized: “Okay, they really rely on us to do good here.”
CB: There were people in suits. And clipboards.
How did you finally come to the casting?
MRS: By picking up our phone and calling people, legitimately. Every single person was cast by me and Kells phoned them and talked to them for 30 minutes and recited the whole film.
Whose schedule was the hardest to avoid?
MRS: That was to the minute. And that was the last day of shooting, because we kept having to postpone the day. By the way, behind your back everyone was like, “Yo, Pete doesn’t do that.” And you were the only person who said, “Dude, that’s like my best friend. He’ll be there.” Even I thought, “He doesn’t.”
CB: His agent once said, “This isn’t going to work.” And I kept saying, “Trust me. It’ll work.” He flew in, landed, and he’s like, “Dude, I wasn’t sleeping.” And I’m like, “We’re squeezing all your scenes into one day. You have a 16-hour day of shooting.” I said to my assistant, “Bring Pete what he wants. Fill it up with food. Fill it up with coffee. Give him as much weed as he wants.”
Was there someone you couldn’t reach?
MRS: You always thought we’d get Brad Pitt.
CB: Yes. I was convinced that we would get Brad Pitt for a scene.
MRS: He was supposed to play Danny Trejo’s role, the method actor.
CB: Brad Pitt did this scene true romance where he was the stone roommate. I was like, “Oh, he’s gonna do this for the culture, man.” Like, yeah, the greatest actor of all time…
MRS: Everyone said, “There’s no chance.” But to be honest, you were convinced we were going to get everyone, and we really did get everyone else. And there were many times I thought, “There’s no way this is going to happen.” You really nailed it, dude.
What scene in the film are you most proud of?
MRS: I’ll say that I’m most proud of the breakup scene between Kell and Becky G’s character. I mean I’m a big fan of his. He’s my best friend and I admire him in a lot of ways too – sorry dude, I have to be serious for a second. Watching him pull off a serious scene like this, I was like, ‘Damn, man. He’s really, really good.” And Becky G killed it. This was essentially a one-take.
Colson, when you were pretending to audition for Batman, did you get drawn to trying out for Marvel or something in real life?
CB: You know, I’ve tried and I just think… let’s just say I’m not a church boy. When I look at these huge press junkets and all these all-American hero people who really probably suck behind the scenes… you know, I wore it on my sleeve in front of everyone. So anyone can say at any time, “That’s your superhero? Look at him stuffing mushrooms on his face here.” I don’t know. I am fine.
Do you think you two will be collaborating on another film soon?
CB: None of my spirals have led me to the typewriter lately.