The Prank

Director Maureen Bharoocha discusses The Prank

March 24, 2024 A DGA Membership Screening Q&A in Los Angeles

A social media hoax spins out of control in Director Maureen Bharoocha’s comedic thriller, The Prank.

Set in a small-town high school, Bharoocha’s film tells the story of overachiever Ben (Connor Kalopsis) and his carefree best friend Tanner (Ramona Young), who decide to exact revenge on their strict physics teacher, Mrs. Wheeler (Rita Moreno) when she threatens to fail them. They frame her for the murder of a missing student on social media, but the plot yields unexpected results.

On March 24, after the DGA membership screening in Los Angeles, Bharoocha discussed the making of The Prank during a Q&A moderated by Director Lena Khan (The Tiger Hunter).

During the conversation, Bharoocha spoke about how she fought to tell the story she wanted to.

“I think the tone of the movie is very unusual. It’s a comedy. It’s a thriller. That gets seeped into everything, like how it’s pitched, the poster, the trailer. When we did the trailer, we had one that was super dark and thriller-y. And I was like ‘There’s no levity in this!’ And they came back and did a swing that was all comedy. And I was like, ‘Oh no! Now it’s just like a comedy romp.’ So, I think it was always making sure that whatever you’re putting out into the world is closest to the actual film, so that people don’t have an expectation that’s not a match. In a small movie like this, you have to stay very involved.”

She also revealed techniques she and DP Mathew Rudenberg employed throughout the film to help drive the narrative in an amusing way.

“We took each scene and were like, ‘How do we make this fun?’ When she’s in the classroom and threatening Connor, we use the fisheye lens. I know Rita hates it, but it’s the first time you’re like, ‘Something’s off with her.’ So, it was really fun to go through each scene and be like, ‘What kind of things can we put in each scene that is like a little Easter Egg.’”

Bharoocha’s other directorial credits include the feature films Golden Arm and Fatal Flip and episodes of Saved by the Bell, Drama Club and Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin. She was previously a segment Director for three seasons on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Bharoocha has been a DGA member since 2016, currently serves as a Co-Chair of the Asian American Committee and co-created the Women’s Steering Committee’s WSC Squad Mentorship Program.




Pictures

Q&A photos by Elisa Haber – Print courtesy of Iconic Events

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A DGA Membership Screening Q&A in Los Angeles