So remember when we all feared for our youth for a few hours after watching the elementary school production of Scarface on YouTube? Well, never fear: it wasn’t actually a real production. Nope, turns out filmmaker Marc Klasfeld — the man behind dozens of music videos and commercials, as well as some indie films — and his production company Rockhard Films put the whole fudgin’ thing together. Shortly after the video went viral, Klasfeld called up EW to talk about his YouTube hit. (Watch it again embedded below.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So you found yourself quite a viral hit here with Scarface.
MARC KLASFELD: A lot of people probably know this about me, but I’ve done hundreds upon hundreds of music videos, commercials, and virals. So for me, this was just one more thing that I did. It wasn’t this one-off thing that I did. I did a movie. I did a comedy-satire about the Los Angeles riots called The L.A. Riot Spectacular. I’ve done dozens of controversial music videos. Just last year, I did a very popular viral called “Hammer Pants Dance.” So this is something that is just part of what I do. There are many things that I’m uncredited for, too. But this one just happened to hit that certain nerve and just kind of took off into the pop culture heavens and just exploded. And it’s been pretty interesting to watch.
So how did the idea come about?
This particular idea, I just thought it would be interesting. I thought it was funny. I thought it was satirical. I love viral videos. I’m a huge fan of viral videos. I’ve made a ton of them, and I’m always watching them. And I thought this would be nice fit into the kind of YouTube arena of viral videos. And I was right.
And obviously, you’re a fan of Scarface.
Who isn’t a fan of Scarface? It’s such an iconic movie, [and] people get to relive it through this. It reminds me of an Alien Art Farm music video I did years back called “Smooth Criminal,” where we parodied Michael Jackson. People loved that video so much, because they were living Michael Jackson through another video that wasn’t of him.
The kids were actors. How did you get permission from their parents?
It wasn’t a problem at all. I’ve worked with kids many times. And I have a casting director that I work with all the time. And he helped me cast the kids. And the parents were 100 percent supportive. Particularly the lead kid. The parents are professional. They get it. [Kids are] subjected to things much worse than this every day. So it’s a little bit shocking to us [to see] some of the outrage. Though there has been a lot of positivity around this, it’s just kind of weird, because there is more violence in the Avatar trailer that’s aimed at children or in violent video games. But the parents were completely on board.
A lot of people were upset because they thought it was real. What did you think about that?
Again, I enjoy making provocative art. I like stirring debate and causing conversation. You’re going to get two sides of the coin no matter what you do. People are going to love and hate everything. People loved and hated Avatar. People loved and hated the Jennifer Aniston movie. And people love and hate this. I guess that’s a part of having something that’s successful out there. There’s got to be certain people that hate it for people to love it.
How long did it take to put together?
It took a little while, because we had to get the acting right. So there was a lot of casting, and we came up with some amazing actors. It was a one-take, so it was pretty much just choosing the right take. About a month altogether.
What did the kids think about it? Did they know what they were doing?
They’re seven to 10 years old. Again, to them, they have heard the f-word. They’ve seen more violence in their everyday lives for as long as they can remember. So for this, they’ve seen worse things than this all the time. So this wasn’t that big of a deal for them.
What’s in the future for you?
I’m constantly working on all kinds of projects. So I don’t know. Who knows? I don’t know how I’ll top myself with this, but I’m sure I’ll think of something.