Your movie Kinks - in a few words, what is it about?
Kinks is a mockumentary style feature film. The movie takes a cynical
but nevertheless humorous look at two inter-racial sisters who appear far
from alike. Inside and outside. One is white and one is dark.
Split up as children, because their parents divorced, the film starts when
they finally meet again after years growing up on separate continents.
On meeting it is obvious their agendas are as different as their looks.
The fiercely competitive, western educated Caucasian looking Jay wants
international success for her cross cultural dating show. She returns to
Malaysia to produce her dream, a reality show for the American market. To
succeed she needs it to be as outrageous as possible. Jay’s Malaysian
sister, Joythi, the Indian looking darker one, happens to work for
Ministry of Culture. She is more introverted and has to learn to stand up
to her sister while desperately trying to keep her job, while in charge to
establish some decency in Jay’s misguided production. Clashes are
How did the project fall together in the first place?
Virginia: Julie, the main actress, and Nina Sharil Khan, the actress playing the
censor in the movie had the crazy idea to make a movie about two twins
where one is white, like Julie, and one is brown like Nina. They
shared this crazy idea with me and for some crazy reason I cannot
remember, I jumped on board. I think I am attracted to anything silly.
Nina Sharil Khan, Juliane Block
Juliane: I met Nina when taking acting classes in Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia. We look so different that the story was born: 'What if we
were twins?' Kinks was my second feature film. I had done almost
anything working at film sets besides acting and the easiest to get a
lead role in a feature is to write and produce it yourself. I had seen
some of Virginia's work and because she had made similar experiences as
expatriate in Asia as I and I loved her work, Nina and I asked her to
come on board.
I think it's a fair assumption that Kinks
has been inspired
by TV "reality" shows like The Bachelor - so your own
thoughts about shows like this?
Juliane: I believe it's pretty obvious that none of us is a huge fan of
the whole TV "reality" show culture. I personally believe
shows like this are selling human beings rather cheaply and by
doing that are creating a fake sense of reality. That might even be
dangerous for people who can't distinguish between what's real and
what's fake. Therefore we pushed it quite a bit in Kinks
to make a
Virginia: I think reality shows are frighteningly addictive. I stopped
watching them because I thought it was crazy to watch other people live
their lives cos it is a terrible excuse not to go out and make the most
Kinks other "theme" if you may is the culture clash
between Eastern and Western culture - so in what way did that mirror your
own experiences filming in Malaysia?
Virginia: All of it mirrored our experience. Every aspect of the
censorship is from my experience as a commercial director in Malaysia
where we cannot show armpits, bottoms of feet or belly buttons and
definitely no kissing or touching. I remember one commercial for a soap
she lathered up in her clothes!
Juliane: It's actually quite funny if you take out the single incidents.
On the other hands it's important to note as well that we foreigners
also often behave in a very disrespectful way - simply not knowing the
proper way to do things. It's a two way street.
The third big theme of Kinks
is probably sibling rivalry -
something either of you have experienced, and to what extent is it
mirrored in the movie?
Virginia: I have two sisters so I made sure I was the victor always, and
they suffered so. Ha!
Juliane: My brother and I had some sibling rivalry but by far not as
strong as in the film. I think I'm drawing more from experiences within
my family than with my brother. I've witnessed first hand how a silly
argument evolved into something huge because family members weren't
talking and each party was just sitting on their own viewpoint for so
long, that their perspective shifted. The entire conflict could have
been avoided with a single meeting to clear the air.
(Other) sources of inspiration when writing Kinks
- and what
can you tell us about the writing process as such?
Virginia: The writing process was intense until we actually started
writing the script. Julie and I would meet regularly and got lots of
feedback from others during the structuring stage. The actual writing
for me was the fun part.
Juliane: I think the process before Virginia actually started the
screenplay took us a year. We were writing and revising the treatment a
lot. The actual writing process then just took her about two or three
I have to ask here, was everything in the movie rigidly scripted, or
was it mostly improvisation?
Juliane: Everything was scripted but we did leave room on set to modify
and eventually start improvising instead. The interviews for example were
done rather freely.
How would you describe your directorial approach to your story at
hand - and what was your collaboration with one another like when shooting
Kinks? And how did you two first meet even?
Virginia: Julie had to wear a lot of hats during the shoot. Apart from
being the co-director and writer she had the most experience as producer
and is damn good at it. For me directing Kinks
it was about surviving
and laughing under extreme circumstances. Like for example whether any
crew would turn up or not. I was absolutely not used to guerrilla
shooting. Julie was calm as a cucumber but I was not. Coming from
directing commercials, I'm used to complaining if my Starbucks is cold.
On Kinks we were lucky to get
Juliane: I think Virginia and I actually met during a screening of my
first short film Unsecured Loan. Kinks
came a couple of years later. For
me it was great to collaborate with her, because sometimes you tend to
lose focus coming out of the low budget guerrilla world, wearing too
many hats. Virginia made sure we stayed on track and did a fantastic job
on pushing the film as far as we can in terms of quality within our
Juliane and Virginia
Juliane, you also play a key role in Kinks
- so what did you
draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much or Juliane Block
can we find in Jay? And was that role written with you in mind from the
Juliane: We wrote the entire movie having in mind that Nina and I will
play the twins. I believe that Jay is a good mix from experiences Virginia
and I made. However, for me, seeing the movie, Jay is a different
character. I sat through the editing process and saw the footage in so
many different ways... and one point I actually started seeing a different
What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the atmosphere?
Virginia: I was stressed. Julie was the peacekeeper. On most days we had
a laugh but underneath I was nervous. I really loved working with
Julie and the cast. They were amazing.
Juliane: There was certainly tension on set. But imagine that: it's
incredibly hot, you are in a jungle camp, there are mosquitos everywhere
and paintball guns are going off. And you are going on for days and
days. But, I have to say that the entire crew really made a huge effort
to make this movie great and I believe the dedication shows.
Any future projects you'd like to share?
Juliane: I am working right now on my next feature film 3 Lives, a
psychological thriller with Thora Birch in the lead role
I am in the middle of a crowdinvesting campaign and that's as hard as
making the actual movie itself ;) [Juliane's
3 Lives interview - click here].
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Virginia: I have a feature film releasing in cinemas in Malaysia in
September that I wrote and directed. My short film Thread won at
Clermont Ferrand Film Festival.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
For US customers:
Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to
Juliane: For everyone who likes the film: We'd really appreciate if you
can give us an Amazon or IMDb review. Without a huge marketing budget
behind us we are relying on all of you to help us get our film out
there. Thank you... and enjoy the film!
Thanks for the interview!