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Erik Lindsay on Beta House

Published January 7, 2008 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders.
Beta House Beta House
American Pie has been blazing a trail in the straight to DVD sequel market. Say what you want about Band Camp, it did well enough to spawn The Naked Mile. Now there's already a trilogy with Beta House. Naked Mile screenwriter Erik Lindsay returned to keep upping the quality ante.

Erik Lindsay Joins a Beta House

"The challenge was in writing a franchise and writing a sequel was to stay within the realm of the characters you've created and create an organic sequel," said Lindsay. "You're not just throwing them on Semester at Sea, just putting them somewhere because you want a certain marketing strategy. It seemed like the next logical step. These kids were in high school. They visited Michigan University and had the best time of their lives at Beta House, so the next logical thing was that's what an 18-year-old kid would do. He'd go home and rip up all his other applications. He'd be like, 'Look, I'm going there and I'm joining that fraternity.'"

The fraternity story made sense, but Lindsay knew that he was tackling an even greater legacy than just American Pie there. "The challenge with a fraternity movie was of course you've always got the gold standard to live up to which was Animal House. One of the nice things that the studio allowed us to do was, every movie that's been made since Animal House, like PCU, has always kind of run away from a straight pledging frat movie. You can always hear the pitches. 'It's like Animal House but it's not like it because there's this other little hook.' The great thing about Beta House was I was like, 'Look, we're not going to top Animal House of course, but it's been 25 years. I was in a fraternity for six years. Let's just make a straight pledging movie. That's where most of the humor comes from, the bonding that these guys have, the crazy antics that they have.'"

In case you were wondering, Lindsay did not remain in his fraternity through grad school. "No, my parents wish. I was an undergrad for six years. I basically was the real life version of Dwight Stifler. Then actually my parents cut me off my last year in school. They wouldn't pay for another year at school so I went to Vegas with a bunch of my fraternity brothers, had about $3000 in my bank account, bought a blackjack table and a roulette wheel and opened a casino in my fraternity house. That's how I paid for my last year of college. I opened a 'casino'' in my fraternity house."

Now Lindsay is a success story, so don't worry if your kids bum around in college. "I hope my parents don't hear half these interviews. If we watched the movie together, you could pause it every minute and be like, 'All right, Erik, what's the deal with that scene?' I'll be like, 'All right, there's this nugget of truth to that. It's based on our sophomore year when we went down to Tijuana, we went to Vegas or whatever.' So who would have thought me being a complete screw-up in college and enjoying myself, in the end getting out of school and being a more rounded person I think for it, would all come back and help me make movies like this and have a career."

American Pie Presents: Beta House is available exclusively on home video.

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Fred Topel
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