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Monday, April 15, 2024

Rooster Teeth, an Austin-based production company known for its online content, released its first-ever feature-length film, “Lazer Team,” in theatres Wednesday. Crowd-funded through Indiegogo, the comedy features a misfit team that must put aside its differences to save the planet from an alien threat. Tickets for nearby showings can be bought at The movie will also debut on YouTube Red in early February.

Burnie Burns, star and co-writer of the film, spoke with the Avenue about all things “Lazer Team.”

KB: Let’s start from the beginning: Where did the idea of “Lazer Team” originate?

BB: “Lazer Team” originally came about from a pitch session we had a few years ago. We all were throwing out ideas, and everybody came to the table with something amazing. “Lazer Team” was born out of that. It wasn’t within our capabilities to make it at that point, but we grew to the point where we could and thought, “OK, we can make this movie, but we want to make it even bigger.” That was the origin of us deciding to do this as a crowd-funded movie.

We wanted to make “Lazer Team” not only for our audience, but also for a larger audience. Gavin (Free) says we didn’t want to make “Rooster Teeth, The Movie,” we wanted to make Rooster Teeth’s movie. It wasn’t just like, “Hey, we made a movie, and it’s just the bigger version of everything we do online.” This was something entirely different.

KB: You play the part of Hagan, a beaten-down sheriff who gets thrown into this heroic role. How much of yourself was put into the character?

BB: When writing the story, you kind of have an idea that you might be auditioning for it. So you’re thinking, “Oh, I can play this, or I can play that.” I didn’t think about myself for Hagan — at all. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have made him have the shield, because he’s basically the guy who takes all the abuse for the team. The main thing was, with Hagan — I tend to be a bigger, loud-mouthed, talk-fast kind of guy — and he’s a guy from a small town who hasn’t done much with his life. I had to essentially take it down a notch to play him.

KB: What would you say was the most fun you had while making “Lazer Team”?

BB: I’d say the most fun was the days we were doing mass explosions. But the best moment for me was when the spaceship crashes in the field, and the characters are pulling all the pieces of the armor out. That, to me, was the scene I always latched onto as the image for the movie, years before we had even made it. So when I was standing in that field in Texas on a cold winter night, I was like, “This is it. This is what I’ve been thinking about for all these years, and here it is sitting right in front of me.” That was really amazing.

KB: Did you have a least favorite part?

BB: The hardest part was just making a movie. Making a movie is tough. I found a newfound respect for actors on huge-scale productions, because it can take two hours for the rest of the crew to set up, and then, when they’re ready to go, the actor has to run in there and be awesome in 30 seconds. That’s a lot of pressure when you know everyone’s depending on you.

KB: Are there any plans for a second feature film, whether it be a “Lazer Team” sequel or something else entirely?

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BB: Sure! In 2016, I think we’re focused on taking what we learned from “Lazer Team” and making sort of a long-form series. People love watching things like “Game of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead,” and we love watching those as well, so right now we’re focused on something like that. But with everything we’re hearing about “Lazer Team,” I would not be surprised if we were back to making another feature a few months after it goes to theaters.

KB: And having had success with not only “Lazer Team,” but also with online video content, what advice do you have for any UF students trying to pave a similar path?

BB: There’s a lot more opportunities for distributing content than when I first got started. But that’s both a curse and a blessing. Right now on YouTube, every minute that goes by, 300 hours of footage are uploaded to the platform. I would say the best way to be discovered is to make something you would want to watch; make something that’s genuine. If you do that, and you do that well, you will find an audience. That’s what works for us at Rooster Teeth.

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