Your new movie Disintegration
- in a few words, what is it about?
is a pyschosexual pornodelic fever-dream that
plunges the viewer deep into a twisted world of hallucinogenic
masturbatory madness and sexual depravity. Or something like that. That's
the promotional copy. But it's pretty accurate. It's a film about a woman
who suffers some severely traumatic event and as a result her mind
shatters. Her grasp of reality is completely lost. She enters a nightmare
world and must find her way through it. Must find herself through it.
What were your
sources of inspiration when dreaming up
most of my Red Scream films, Disintegration
started with an
image. In this case the image was that of a woman, naked, drenched in
blood and gore, walking trance-like through a forest. Immediately I wanted
to know, who is this woman, what happened to her, where is she going, what
happens next? The primary frame of reference was Polanski's Repulsion, but a grindhouse version. When we shot the film we
did shoot flashback material that sort of explained some of that, that
showed who she was and where she came from but as I was reviewing the
first edit I realized, I didn't care about any of that. I really didn't
care who she was or had been. I didn't care where she had come from or
even where she was going to. What I wanted to show, what I wanted to
experience was her experience - her fragmented reality, the
terrible twisted reality she now existed within. So anything that did not
address that, that did not depict that experience, all that came out. And
as I began to rework the material I saw that it was becoming a trance
film, a darkly surrealistic trance film. There's a great deal of
Eisenstein's theory of montage in this, how you can take two completely
disparate images and by putting them together form a third image, the
"tertium quid". The clash of images. Assaultive cinema. There's
also Burrough's cut up technique at work here. Again jarring disparate
cuts like a slap in the eyeball.
film's narrative approach is rather non-linear and associative - so how
much of a challenge was it to not just get lost in your story, and was the
film based on a fixed screenplay from the get-go or rather improvised on
There was never a fixed screenplay per se. I knew
that we would open with the woman wandering naked and bloody through the
forest. She comes to the cabin and there washes off the blood and gore.
She finds clothes and something to eat. But the memories of her terrible
ordeal quickly return to haunt her. She experiences strange visions and
bizarre sounds. She relives her trauma over and over again, yet each time
in a different form as her mind seeks to find a way to understand it and
survive it. Perhaps even to heal. Most "scenes" were a couple of
sentences, the woman goes here, the woman does that. We fleshed it out on
the set. The first cut was much more linear, much more straight forward.
But as I began the re-edit, understanding that everything was now driven
by nightmare logic and free from the confines of linearity or the need to
"make sense" I was able to take the material into many dark and
troubling corners. Alex Murur who did the visual effects for the film was
key. I would ask him, hey can you do this with this footage, and he would
say, let me see what I can do and he would come back with imagery that was
even more nightmarish than I had asked. And that imagery influenced me to
take the material even further. There's an old filmmaking adage, you make
a movie three times, once with the screenplay, once when you film it and
then finally when you edit it. This film was made in the edit. It is a
very different film and yet it is the same film. It's as if a filmmaker
took acid and was able to record their trip. Not a recreation of their
trip but the actual trip while it was happening. I think we captured that.
How would you describe your directorial
approach to your story at hand?
I don't like to have things
too well planned. I like to build scenes organically. I like to give the
actors an idea and let them run with that, see how far they can take it.
That can get you in trouble sometimes, but this time, it worked very well.
Angelina really understood her character and took her character places
even I hadn't considered. I don't want to tell my actors what to do and
what to say and how to act. I suggest. I guide. I point. They then must
decide what their character would do. They must decide how far their
character will go. I'm not an actor. That's not my job. You have to
trust your actors.
Your lead and only
actress Angelina Leigh - why her, and what was your collaboration like?
as soon as I had my vision for this film and knew basically what I wanted
to do, I knew I needed an actress who could both act and who had no
issues with nudity or sexuality. I knew Angelina from the Cleric shoot, I
knew she had no issues with nudity, she has appeared in Playboy and
Hustler and did fetish and nude modeling. I contacted her and pitched the
story over lunch. She loved the concept and immediately accepted the role.
She was perfect. No drama. No bullshit. I told her what I wanted and she
did it. Perfectly. Time after time. I've never seen anyone so comfortable
in their skin. No drama.
You just have to talk about
soundscapes by Frederic Mauerhofer, and were they created specifically for
the movie, and what was your collaboration like?
been working with Frederic for quite a few years now. Since I think Red
Scream Nosferatu. He is a Paris based composer, music producer and DJ. His
music ranges from classic to club. Like Alex and Angelina, Frederic
instinctively, intuitively understands what I am looking for. I
really only have to fire off a few words and he goes off and works his
magic. And time after time his sonicscapes work perfectly with my images.
And yes his work was created specifically for the film.
talk about your locations for a bit, and what were the advantages and
challenges of filming there?
An old friend of mine, his
brother owns a large hunting cabin up on the top of a small mountain. Very
isolated. Surrounded by acres of densely wooded area. Perfect place
to make a serial killer movie or an Evil Dead joint. Of course I did
something else. There really were no challenges other than getting there
which did require a large four wheel drive truck but once there, you had
everything. Maybe the "toilets" which were really buckets with a
plank seat with a hole in the middle but other than that...the perfect
place to lose your mind.
What can you tell us about
the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
We shot over
a weekend. It was Angelina and Katy Saul who did the makeup effects, the
cameraman, my friend Ron and at one point his nephew who brought in
supplies as needed, and of course myself. It was like a fun camping trip
except there was a naked bloody woman walking around most of the time.
$64-question of course, when and where will
be released onto the general public?
This Friday. On Vimeo.
I expect free of charge. I want this film to be seen.
Any future projects
you'd like to share?
I see Disintegration
as both a
look back and a step forward. A look back in that most of my earlier films
and all my university films were experimental in nature. I was very
influenced by the surrealist filmmakers of the 20s, so people like Germain
Duluc, Man Ray and of course Bunuelís Un Chien Andalou and L'Age
díOr. And also classic underground works by Maya Deren, Kenneth Anger
and even Jack Smith. Also those I studied film under like Tony Conrad and
Lawrence Brose. And Peter Tscherkassy. This to me has always been the most
creative filmmaking aesthetic unbound by convention or structure. It is
also a step forward in that this is the type of film I want to make going
forward. Not necessarily this abstract or surreal, but film again unbound
by convention or structure or confined by expectations of genre. I think I
have said everything I need to say regards horror. The world does not need
another zombie film or werewolf film or horror comedy. Or whatever. Iím
in a place where I can make the micro-budget films that interest me. That
doesnít mean these films wonít have aspects of horror, I am a life
long horror fan after all but they will not be bound by those
expectations. Not that my work ever was. In every film I made an
effort to defy expectation, to make a film that went against the grain.
Anyone can remake Friday the
13th. And many do. I donít. My next film
will be very 60s French New Wave, influenced by Godard and Resnais.
Also Antonioni. But also very much my own film. Itís about two
people who meet possibly for the first time and yet, they may have known
each other before. Possibly in the past, possibly in a different life.
There are unresolved issues that need to be resolved but that doesnít
mean they are resolved. Itís about loneliness and distance. Itís about
how, no matter how well you know someone, or think you know someone, you
really can never know them because all you can really see is surface. You
can never see beneath the surface. You can never pierce that barrier. It
is non-horror but it continues the trance-like aesthetic begun with Disintegration, although not as visually assaultive. Looking to shoot
in October 2015. Iím also looking at something called Winterfallen,
which is a post-apocalyptic gothic. Possibly 2016 depending on financing.
Hopefully shooting that with Sean-Michael Argo.
Your/your movie's website,
Facebook, whatever else?
Disintegration: not live yet.
Anything else you are dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I think we
covered it all.
Thank you Mike!