Your movie Pazuzu
- in a few words, what is it about?
is a comedy about a blind date that goes incredibly
wrong, very quickly.
What were your inspirations when dreaming up the movie?
It basically came down to a conversation between me and Mattea Benz.
She’s a theater actress, and we always flirted with the idea of making
something together, but never really did over the years. It just so
happened, I had this idea for a conversational comedy, and she quite liked
it, and so we jumped right in without question and nailed it.
talk about the shoot as such for a bit, and what was your collaboration
with your leading lady Mattea Benz like?
Benz is wonderful.
The character of Rae that you see in Pazuzu
is absolutely nothing
like her true personality. What kind of sucks about those who watch a lot
of my films is that they don’t really realize just how great these
ladies are doing – whether it be Denelle Kjellman in Cleaners or
Joi Itapson [Joi Itapson
interview - click here] in Nikki – these women create characters that are
polar opposite from them, and in my eyes are engagingly terrific. As with
all of my films, dialogue is improvised, but the scenes are created
beforehand. Benz and I sat down for an hour, created our characters’
histories, talked about where the story would go, knew that the
conversation on the couch would be in long, long takes – and then filmed
it all in the span of a few hours.
Douglas and the twins
Moving on to
what I'd call your kiddie movie, The
Music Video - now what's that one about? And 2hat
was the idea behind having two little girls dream up and act in their own
Oh boy. (laughs) It’s funny to me how many people
have told me that it’s such a black sheep in my filmography, when I
really think it fits in nice and snug. My twin sisters, both six years of
age, decided they wanted to make a music video for our mom as a Mother’s
Day gift and that I was to help. Them being so young, holding cameras, and
making such a piece of work that was predictably “bad” just reminded
me so much of me when I was their age making movies. That innocence and
that discovery that cinema itself has no boundaries in how it can be
filmed, or done. I loved this look at two girls realizing that, and then
making something that is their own work of art. And no matter how bad it
actually is, it came from their hearts. I think that short film is
beautiful, and I’m very proud of it.
What was the actual shoot like, and how easy or
difficult was it to keep the girls' interest and keep them in line?
wanted to do it. It was their idea to make something. So I helped them
make their music video, but I also built this film around it. They were
troopers through it all, and they had fun. I get sad how frequently I turn
them down to make new stuff, because I struggle to find the time doing it
with them. I’ve been working on convincing them to make stuff
contrast, your next movie Hollywood
has a very adult theme to it - so do talk about that one for a bit, and
what was the idea behind it?
It was originally meant for a
feature anthology of short films – all of which were about the theme of
‘obsession’. Similar to The Knock, the anthology fell apart
with the other filmmakers involved, so I went ahead and released them as
their own stand-alone shorts. Hollywood
is a commentary on film
itself being viewed as a dying medium – where voyeuristic pleasure is
completely being abandoned, and it was my homage to Andy Warhol when it
came to presenting this in an ambiguous way. How else but an abandoned
video store and then an act of voyeurism from the character back onto the
audience? The color of green throughout isn’t a bit on the subtle side.
Your very recent featurette
Nikki - what's that one
about, and what were the inspirations for that one? And what was it like to shoot in a public space?
to Pazuzu, I like to think of
Nikki as the second in a
trilogy of “conversation pieces”. The approach to production was
similar. Itapson [Joi Itapson
interview - click here] was interested in acting for me, so we had coffee as a
Cincinnati Starbucks and went over some ideas and were both struck by the
story of a break-up that goes incredibly harsh. We both developed our
characters’ histories, where the story would go, and then simply nailed
it in one night. The conversation itself was done in two takes, the second
being the one used in the finished cut. Nikki is about fears of
the future and lingering on the past – just like almost all of my work
seems to be. I wanted to illustrate that with my character – a musician
who doesn’t realize he’s bad, but has passion. It’s no coincidence I
chose to focus on an older musician doing a failed gig in the coffee shop.
The only person who showed up to see him was his wife and sister. I like
to think that’s the direction he could be going, and it’s supremely
tragic. Itapson is fearless. We shot that thing in public, yelling and
talking with strangers around. We chose to incorporate glances from my
character to illustrate that he is aware that they’re “making a
scene”. Some were giving looks to us like we were genuinely fighting,
and I was really embarrassed. But that was, in its own demented way, a
whole lot of fun. (laughs)
The $64-question of
course, where can all these films be seen?
YouTube. Vimeo. MUBI. They’re all around.
for the interview!