Earlier this spring, a friend sent me the link to miami1996.com in an otherwise blank email. The site, stylized to be some relic of an internet long gone, plays host to the above short film, Miami 1996. It's better that you take the nine minutes to watch it than have me ruin it's storyline here—but after having done so myself, I had to know who was behind it and what, exactly, was wrong with him or her. Some middle school-level internet sleuthing led me to a Funny or Die writer named Nick Corirossi, who confirmed that it was indeed him who wrote Miami 1996. We spoke over the phone about his hometown, what inspired the film and his history as a comedy writer. More recently though, Corirossi sent me an email, the subject line of which read, "Drake No New Friends ripped off Miami 1996 BIGTIME!" In no way do I believe that. But I do think Miami 1996 is incredible and that you should meet the person who made it.
How did you end up at Funny Or Die? I went to film school at Florida State and then went straight from graduating to LA. The short version of it is, you come to LA and nobody’s trying to help you out. It doesn’t matter if you went to college, it doesn’t matter if you went to film school—none of it matters. The only thing that matters is making content. So me and my friend Charles [Ingram] made a sketch group called Friends-R-US, and we basically made a ton of YouTube videos that are really stream of consciousness-like comedy writing. Just a bunch of bullshit. Nobody’s watching this shit, like 100 views. But the 100 views are from interesting, like tastemaker-y people. So we did that and then we went to Channel 101 which is basically a web series competition. Me and Charles were hired at Funny Or Die as a comedy writing duo because of Friends-R-Us and our Channel 101 stuff.
What have you made that you’re the most proud of? Don Cheadle as Captain Planet. I did that with Charles. There was “The navy seal that shot Bin Laden.” Chris Henchy wrote that and me and Charles edited and directed. One video I wrote and directed was this John Goodman playing Colonel Sanders catering to a gay audience. Another one that’s one of my greatest triumphs—getting Funny or Die to pay for this—if you type in “Dark Knight Rises Leaked Ending…” I fake filmed it off a movie screen. It’s essentially the most vulgar and gruesome way a Batman could ever end.
Where did Miami 1996 come from? Well, growing up in Miami you always think, Oh my god this is my hometown, how boring. Then when you start leaving you realize how unique your experiences are. I was like, Man, the way that things were in Miami is not what other people experience. So I always wanted to put the setting of '90s Miami in something. My friends in Miami are fighting the great fight of making Miami an actual city that means something outside of partying. They want to make it more of a cultural and film center and they have this grant from some foundation to fund shorts and make a film festival and all this stuff called Borscht. Part of this grant is giving just a little—not a lot—of money to Miami filmmakers to make movies about Miami.
How difficult was it to make it authentic? I’m 26, so the main thing people said to me is, "You’re making a movie called Miami 1996 and you were straight up nine [then]." Basically, I remember when I was a freshman in 2000 or 2001, going to these senior parties—specifically one of the parties I based this off, with a keg, booty dancing, etc.—at the party someone took a gun out and fired it into the air. I’m a little kid, I jump over the fence, run away—I was kind of exhilarated. Holy shit! South Miami! A public school! So the thing about Miami is that parties today will still play DJ Laz and Uncle Al. Those guys have been played from the day their songs came out in 1995 or 1994,1996 till today. Their culture stuck. Not in 1996 but at my high school, South Miami Senior High, there was something called Cobra Fest and they actually cancelled it because it was so sexual and weird. A DJ would drive up and all these kids from high school, these freshmen and sophomores, would grind up on each other to Red Rat and shit. It was passed down.
When we got the girls [for Miami 1996], they were young because they had to look a little younger, but they knew how to dance like that from their older sisters or cousins or whatever. The girls actually said, I’m so happy to do this because I never get to booty dance like this. Everything else was very meticulous. I was so lucky to get this wardrobe girl from Miami. I tried to make it very clear, in no way is it neon, it’s not "'90s neon Miami.” That’s not it. This is like ghetto, black socks and Adidas sandals—this is very boring, bland. [This is] getting your tank top, and the girl is getting the booty shorts on and she’s getting the brown lipstick with the black liner around it and the hoop earrings and all that good shit.
Who chose the music for the film? I knew songs in my head. I knew Red Rat, Hey you girl inna di tight up skirt, Uncle Al, It’s tiiiiiiime, I actually thought I would use that more. “Oye Morena,” the DJ Laz song, that’s what I was talking about where you don’t realize something’s not big everywhere and that it was specific to Miami. The Lil Suzy and the Stevie B were representative of—I always remember they would play one or two freestyle songs. That was maybe one little generation before, like the, “Spring love come back to meeee,” that’s maybe a 1990 [Ed note: 1988], but they’d still be playing it. The way you’ll hear a booty song now. I knew at some point Bone Thugs would show up in it too, but that was more for me because I’m such a huge Bone Thugs fan. Someone would be singing Bone Thugs.
What’s been the reception to Miami 1996 been like? A lot of people, like you, got just the link. People have written me back like, What the fuck is this? One guy I sent it to is a contributor to Everything Is Terrible! and he posted it like, Hey this is a found footage-y kind of thing and the comments were like, What the fuck did you just…!? That’s the kind of stuff that I like. The prankiness is awesome. I don’t know what they must have felt. They must have felt really intense watching it. Also they might have been like look at these booties!