Based on a viral Reddit thread, Waffle Home is about Abel confronting some childhood demons at a diner with his girlfriend Kate. Things don’t go well for anyone…

Abels dad listened to too much John Piper and wouldn’t let them eat breakfast for dinner. Now everyone is paying the price. ‘Waffle Home’, directed by Matt Everitt and starring Paige Bourne and Kyle Patrick, is based on a viral Reddit thread (here) post in May 2020 by user ThrowRA_Wafflehouse in relationshipadvice. In hindsight, the film is a fascinating depiction of how people visualize written stories, and particularly how they get mutated through threads. Matt found something relatable in the story, and was able to deconstruct the core elements to bring us this wonderful short film. We spoke with Matt who told us a little more on his project:

Can you tell us what inspired you to bring this story to life?

I remember reading the Reddit thread for the first time in May 2020 and (surprise!) really identifying with the frustrations the guy was having. I’ve been in a similar spot, where the feelings are so big you’d do anything to feel better. But I was fortunate enough to have a really good therapist and the support of friends when I started working through those feelings. I saw how easily I could become like him in the right conditions and that’s where the script really was able to take shape. What would have to happen to push me to that point?

By the end of the first draft I was a little disturbed by how much I inadvertently made him a hero. There’s a certain type of guy who identifies with characters like Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver and Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker in a way that misses the point of the story. I don’t know if there was a way to depict his story without valorizing his actions in some mens’ eyes. And that’s when I drastically changed the last few pages of the script: I focused on the cost of his catharsis on everyone around him. We never see him break down, so we’re stuck watching the one person suffering the most because of his actions.

How far did you go in exploring the real story? Did you ever reach out to ThrowRA_wafflehouse?

The original thread got archived pretty quickly after the initial post and the account is no longer active. Werner Herzog has a quote about not letting reality getting in the way of the truth. There was enough truth in the original thread that I felt comfortable with using it as a starting point to expand on my own feelings toward situations like that.

What was the most challenging element for you to film?

Finding the right tone. There’s a lot that we ended up cutting and changing in the edit. Initially it opened up with Kate talking to her therapist so the audience would have all the context people needed from the original thread before we jumped into the restaurant. The problem was, that gave so much away that it took away from the tension and made everything a little bit more boring than it needed to be.

The other thing that took us a very long time to figure out was the ending. In the thread, he kept going back time and time again to fight the cook, but that kind of an ending didn’t really land when it transferred over to a short film. I got cold feet on set about the ending I had written and shot a backup where Abel returns to the booth as if nothing happened. Kate stares at him and accepts that this is just how things are going to be for them. That backup made its way through most of the edit, but after sitting with it for a while it didn’t feel right anymore and we swapped it out at the last minute. (Shoutout to Quicksilver Color in Chicago for re-coloring it after I changed my mind!)

Do you have any tips or advice to offer fellow filmmakers making films based on viral threads?

Try and hone in on the reason why the thread went viral in the first place. What was its appeal? What drew people to it? You look at a movie like Zola and the thread it’s based on – it is so outside the realm of most people’s day to day lives. Then you add the escalation of events and a voice of an incredible storyteller and you have the stuff of internet infamy. Everything you need is right there in the thread. The film did a great job capturing those elements plus they had an incredible director, cast, screenwriter, they had it all.

With Waffle Home, I feel like the thread blew up because people could relate to both sides of the story. Most people have either been the person freaking out or having to deal with someone who is. It was really important then that both characters have the audience’s understanding. When we began to flesh out the characters I pulled a lot from my own experience because that’s all I can write about with any sense of authenticity, and bing bang boom you’re off to the races.

What are your favorite films?

In no certain order:
Nostalghia by Andrei Tarkovsky
Heat by Michael Mann
Ordet by Carlos Dryer
Un Femme Douce by Robert Bresson
All That Heaven Allows by Douglas Sirk

What are your favorite short films?

Piggy by Carlotta Pereda
Sundays by Jose Andres Cardona (Watch on FS)
The Fall by Jonathan Glazer
Thunder Road by Jim Cummings (Watch on FS)
Meshes of the Afternoon by Maya Derek