I first heard about FROWNLAND from Scott Macauley, the editor of Filmmaker Magazine. He was on the jury for SXSW in 2007 and was compelled to fight hard for an award for the film and tell others about it. I first saw the film on DVD as a submission to CineVegas, with its weird handdrawn cover, scrawling pink-and-white image of a family at a dinner table, as if an underground comic book artist re-imagined Bunuel’s EXTERMINATING ANGEL. The movie inside was unlike any other film of recent times. Director Ronnie Bronstein packs a lot of punch in the film with realistic dialogue instead of snappy lines. Main character Keith (Dore Mann) is not your typical leading man. He is unlucky in life and love, as a girl that’s just a friend (Mary Wall, Mrs. Bronstein) comes to him to cry about other guys, and his day job takes him out of Manhattan to peddle coupons door-to-door in the ‘burbs, only to leave him far behind on bills with a hostile hipster musician roommate, who may spit more verbal abuse at him than Kinski did at Herzog. The atmosphere of the film recalls the grime of 1970s’ 42nd street glory, shot on film, projected on film, with unknown actors throughout New York. When you see the end credit of “2007” it’s bewildering.
After a long festival run, no distributor would take the film on, receiving a stint at the IFC Center in New York and various one-off shows around the country at small art houses and universities. Frequently interviewed by websites and mags already, we concentrated on recent days, with the film starting a 4-day run at Cinefamily in Los Angeles, a double-feature screening with Josh Safdie’s THE PLEASURE OF BEING ROBBED, and with a DVD release of FROWNLAND coming this summer, the first release from the new label Factory 25.
CINEMAD: For a film without distribution or even indie stars, people seem to be finding FROWNLAND.
RONNIE BRONSTEIN: They’re finding it. Thing is, there’s not so many people out there that should find it. That’s what it comes down to. I just have to say that off the bat. The disclaimer before we get down to it, whatnot, especially since you told me that you could post this also at the Filmmaker Magazine site. Because they already have done a pretty extensive interview with me.
Yes but this is a follow up.
Not to be egomaniacal about it, but it sounds humiliating, because the world is constantly turning out new product, new movies are coming down the pike all the time, and like this douchebag, this dipshit, is talking about the same thing, he’s treading water. Running on a treadmill. Fuck, man, ya know?
I wanna make it clear: my process is a long one. I got this new project I’m working on. FROWNLAND will finally come out on DVD and I’ll be done with it. You know what I mean?
All sorts of tasks will be behind me. But at the same time, the fact is that anybody who shows up and sees this thing in LA – This movie will not occupy any real estate in their skulls until they see it, so ya know, I need to effect some kind of freshness when I talk about it. It’s only old to me.
Mary and Ronnie Bronstein.
Did you think of having a film festival life rather than a theatrical life when you were done making it? As a projectionist for places like MOMA, you understand non-traditional theatres and films discovered long after they are finished editing.
I don’t know, man, that’s a good question. It's hard to access what my hopes for the movie were. Because the struggle behind the movie was not a commercial one, you know what I mean?
All I can say is I kind of nursed a nitwit notion that there were other people like me with the same itch they wanted scratched. And this movie would scratch it. If anything, what’s unrealistic is you imagine that there is more people like that. And you have to maintain that false pinheaded assumption all the time you’re working, otherwise, why would you work?
You are not bitter about the process.
Not disappointed by any means. That sort of critical approbation in whatever cult it is that has sorta coagulated around the work has been so strong, and the connection to it has been so deep and matched my connection to it that I feel pretty successful with it in that sense.
I don’t know. Filmmakers these days need to look beyond the short-term fortunes of finding a place in the industry. Even the margins of the industry. It’s just not where my head is at. So it doesn’t disappoint me that the film wasn’t, like, picked up or something.
I mean, the time for me to worry about this stuff was when I was coming up for ideas for my movie. You know what I’m saying. I didn’t think about those things, I didn’t worry about those things. And they weren’t my concerns, it wasn’t my struggle, so now I can’t just sit back and be bitter about it.
Some filmmakers do set out to make quote “indie film” in a low-budget manner. Hopefully they are not worrying about the indie film world liking it. Nor should you sit around thinking, “Mechanics won’t like my film.” Someone that works on a car could like your film. That’s totally part of the equation.
The word ‘like’ is such cheap word anyway. Obviously I wasn’t going out of my way to alienate people with the movie. In fact I was surprised, I was struck, by the level of venom that people have continually spit at it. Ya know?
I feel some people read it as a deliberate sort of middle finger to them or to the industry. I don’t know, I certainly didn’t conceive it that way. I tried to be as sensitive as I possibly could to a character I knew was difficult, that would test the limits of people’s tolerance, but that in itself, I thought would be interesting and engaging to dig into.
That’s what makes your film work, the characters.
If you were to worry whether what you’re doing is likeable, well, that's this sort of hovering on top of your work rather than being inside of it. That kind of thinking is just a contaminate.
Absolutely. Have your screenings solidified that feeling?
Again, from my point of view, and my point of view is pretty limited, my life was irrevocably changed the moment I premiered it. I can’t tell you the amount of new life experiences the movie has fomented for me. The people I've connected with, the people i've wound up collaborating with. The whole experience with acting in Josh and Benny Safdie’s new film. That came out of their seeing the movie and for some ineffable reason coming to the conclusion that I needed to perform for them. Jesus. I've had so many crazy experiences. In general, the people that have responded to the work have responded so strongly that I lose sight of the fact of the most people that have never heard of it. I mean i think it's a success.
More than expected?
By the time I was editing it I was so emotionally invested in it and my self-esteem had been so bankrupted that while – whatever. It was not on my radar to judge its success on financial terms. It wasn’t like I made it to get the money back, the same way you don’t go on vacation thinking you’re going to get the money back. It was money I spent and whether it was a success or failure was gonna be based on how people felt about it.
Being a projectionist for a living, did you get the sort of extended perspective of films, beyond reviews and articles and the importance of something being newly released?
A very warped perspective. Almost a delusional one. I’m projecting less now than I have in a decade because I’m working on this stuff all the time. I haven’t made this little money since I was 22.
Nonetheless, I project on the museum circuit, the rep circuit in New York City. And there’s such a healthy vibrant sort of culture that surrounds that. You know, people that go to the movies everyday wanting to put on boxing gloves and sort of duke it out with ideas.
This isn’t an environment where… You think of the moral responsibility a filmmaker has to prod and poke people, you know, out of their passive viewing habit. Well, I don't work around a passive demographic. I’ve always seing audiences watching challenging work, so maybe it just warped my perspective of how many people like that are out there.
I’m not a big fan of the per-screen average of something that is truly low budget, truly tiny. Because there’s an independent film that stars two recognizable actors and then there is an independent film, if your meaning of independent is based solely on budget number or studio affiliation. What is important to me is: if thousands of people saw a film you made with very little resources – that is incredible.
It seems like I’m so green that I don’t have deep insight into the way the industry works. It just seems that the distributors of independent movies are playing it to safe, and it's to nobodys benefit. They're consciously picking the most accessible movies from the crops of independents and funnelling them through the first-run pipeline, but they don’t seem to be making much money off of them. So since no one is making money, all it seems to be doing is ruining the culture.
Let’s make it clear that you haven’t just been sitting around doing nothing since you finished the film.
My process for my own work is painfully slow. I mean, it’s not something I’m embarrassed about. I work slowly, and I’m comfortable with that. The first sort of step, after the thematic scope of a project is mapped out, the first step for me is to create a central character who will become the anchor of the work. For instance, with FROWNLAND it took four months of heavy collaboration with Dore until Keith was alive and breathing, so I could sort of wind him up, and spin him around and toss him into any situation and he could respond in character. This new one is taking a little longer. I’ve been working for about seven months with this my lead. And now finally the character is there, he's alive.
Right. In your new script?
Yeah, yeah, that’s right. But I did take a break to work on Josh and Bennie’s movie [The Safdie Brothers’ new GO GET SOME ROSEMARY, which Ronnie acts in and helped edit]. And I can see why people attach themselves to greater, higher infrastructures in their life. Why they get jobs that tell them where to be everyday, and why. It’s a true pleasure to be involved in something so creatively engaging and fulfilling and yet not have to steer the ship.
Like, I had my base sense of purpose, the reason to get out of bed, that was taken care of, without any of the angst and stress that comes with having to create your own infrastructure.
Once that movie was done, oh my God, it was like being punched in the gut. Terrible, man. I lost my wind.
Cause you had to go back to—
Waking up everyday and having those panic attacks.
There was no school schedule.
Oh my God, no. I don’t want to give the impression of lethargy.
Your general motivation was because you wanted to make a film. It’s just a matter of – you gotta do it your way.
Right, that’s right. I don’t know. What the product is is kind of secondary. I’m just looking for that sense of purpose, so I don’t feel like I’m flailing.
How is your new project going?
We just finished with such a successful weeklong exercise. This is gonna sound so overwrought, but this guy is on a crusade against, I don’t know, the spiritual, intellectual, imperialism. Just grabbing hold of consciousness these days, ya know? This guy is just against everything. I took [the actor] into this single-room occupancy, way into the dirty end of Brooklyn, and he was the only one under 65. Entered into this environment and sort of sparked a revolution. Sounds corny, but by the end of this week, he fermented such a violent upheaval amongst the people. I can only call them inmates. Just the sad souls living there. He had to be removed.
So you got the actor to spend time in an old age home?
I wouldn’t call it an old-age home.
An apartment building with mostly senior citizens.
Only by default. These people have nowhere else to go. This place is as cheap as you can possibly live in the city, ya know? Like the very, very end of Greenpoint. The part of the neighborhood that will never be gentrified.
I’d rather not even get into that, because I’d rather the work just speak for itself. I don’t think I can make it sound good, so…
What’s up with the DVD for FROWNLAND? That’s an actual done deal?
I have to just sign the contract. Yeah, but it’s moving ahead. Like a deluxe edition that would come out with the score on vinyl.
Are you happy it continues to get the occasional theater screening?
I’ve had really good luck. And, of course this is something I don’t think I would have not explored if had found distribution in the states early on. It had a week run in New York and it had so many screenings in New York. I had one at MOMA, I had one at BAM, then I played a week in Chicago, a week in Seattle, we have this LA run coming up. And then Mark who is a producer on this film – we sort of did this huge outreach of reaching out to University cinematheques because there is money there, they have budgets, money they have to spend. And I’ve been able to bring in some money in which to live off of, just by simply going out to Universities and showing them the movie and lecturing them. It’s been satisfying, a lot more satisfying.
It’s just like each city is a little dead-end. It’s nice when you get these theatrical runs then you’re entitled to space in the local newspaper. That’s the reason to go theatrical – not to make the money back in ticket sales, but to sorta be able to get your voice heard in the press.
The film will have a life, you know what I mean? It was purchased by MOMA, it was purchased by the Harvard Film Archives. It exists now. It won’t disappear. I feel like I made as much noise as I possibly could with such an aggressive, craggy movie.
Did you go to film festivals before you made FROWNLAND?
Nah, I was just working in an air-sealed vacuum environment. But i don't know. I feel like it’s such an anemic time in cinema right now…and like if somebody makes a movie, and the struggle behind that movie is not a commercial one, and their goal is not to make their money back, but rather to just try and make noise and affect the culture.
I think it’s a really empowering time because there’s very little competition. It’s a very good time to make a lot of noise with a very little bit of money. If one has the sort of tenacity, go for it.
All these Q&As that you’ve basically done for over a year now. Do you think you find audiences that way?
Yep. You do. I think there’s probably many people who think the Q&As are more interesting than the movie. I just have a personal disinclination of the kind of niceness that seems to define most screening Q&As. Where people are talking about their budget, or finding nice anecdotes, funny anecdotes about the making of the movie. And thankfully, I was spared that. No one even asked those questions, ya know? I guess the movie, at its worst, upsets somebody. It upsets them the way a molecule gets upset. And then they hold me personally responsible for that. And then I’m on the hot seat – I don’t know. It’s a nice place to be.
This has nothing to do with your question, but I guess if I had to attach FROWNLAND to an established genre, the genre I find most personally irritating is the trope of the loveable loser.
Keith (Dore Mann)
You’ve got that in spades.
Somebody who just can't hold it together. His infrastructure is a wreck. He can’t get a girl, he can't move ahead at his lousy job, that kind of thing. Movies that focus on nerds are the most superficial example. But whether it’s REVENGE OF THE NERDS or SIDEWAYS -- these movies use all sorts of insidious tricks to make it easy for the audience to sympathize with the character. They make it so that this character will appeal to the loser in everyone.
And there’s something disgusting about going into a movie theatre and being made to feel, for two house, that you're more tolerant towards weakness than you will be the second you leave the theatre. I was going out of my way to avoid that trap. What does it really mean to spend time with somebody that you might instantly dismiss, and what does tolerance really mean? And tolerance and compassion, the nature of tolerance, maybe it only has value when you don’t feel it. You know what I’m saying?
Being considerate of somebody who is different from you and maybe weaker than you. Again, the value of that comes into play when it’s a fight inside of you to get it.
Your characters portray that struggle we can relate to, they can’t deal with each other.
Maybe that’s what bugs people so much. I mean, my relationship with you is the most sort of extreme example of people getting upset, at the movie during CineVegas. What’s more common is someone will raise their hand in the audience and will ask a question in which the subtext is hitting the text over the head with a mallet. They aren’t really asking me a question. They are just disguising a very negative statement. Like a question like, ‘What do you think you were gonna achieve with this movie?”
That’s the kind of hostility I’m used to. In Vegas it actually erupted into screaming. Like something that is physical. And in a way, I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of that.
The guy who was booing, did he actually ask a question? Did he stick around?
He didn’t just boo, he booed for several minutes. I mean, jesus, to drain the air out of your lungs and then re-draw new air and then drain it out again and again. That guy was committed. I kind of respect that. But when I addressed him, well, I didn’t even have the chance because somebody else got up and started screaming at that guy.
In defense of the film –
I value confrontation. I feel like our culture has become so unconfrontational that I’m happy to play a role in that. Like my own little turn of the screw in the vice of our culture. And make something that is creating that kind of conflict, or that kind of dialogue, makes me feel good. Makes me feel successful. And not in some cheap punk way. Not looking to punch buttons for the sake of doing so, that would be valueless.
Either an audience member or Keith's roommate in the film.
No, you gotta go all the way. If you make a film about teenagers, let’s find the truly uncool kid. Not just somebody that has acne and wears black.
Well, just what I was trying to get at. And again, I wasn’t sparing myself in the sense that the whole movie for me was the struggle. I want to create work where that struggle is embedded inside of the work. Where it feels like the guy that made it isn’t just standing on top of everything judgmentally. I wasn’t trying to preach about tolerance. I was trying to expose how difficult it is.
Fuck, man. Whether you’re a student working in the dorm or whether you’re working retail, or walking around the city, like in any environment, you come across people once in a while that are just off. There is something off about them, ya know? Are there is a kind of mindset that one instinctively adopts when they are around someone like that. It’s like you are walking down the street and the somebody asks you for directions, and just because of the vibe they are giving off, you find yourself saying, “Sorry, I don’t live around here.” Even though you know exactly where they want to go, you just wanna push that person away. Or if you’re working retail and some guy comes up to you, you find yourself answering questions very strategically that will preclude any follow up. You just want to push that fucker away.
And in reality, what does it mean to dimiss somebody that isn’t doing anything bad per se but is just off? In life you can do that so easily and never think twice about it. There is no real reason to question it. You force someone away from your little territorial bubble, and go about your business and never have to question whether or not that dismissal was justified, you know? So, wow, a movie theatre is a really good place, I’m thinking, to sort of confront people with people. It’s that old adage of ‘the captive audience.’
And they paid for it.
And the thing is, why can’t people just leave the theatre the same way they can dismiss someone in real life. Why is somebody staying through the end and getting that upset? If you wanna dismiss this guy, you can easily do so by getting up and leaving. I’m not gonna mind.
He booed through the entire credits.
That makes the film so much more powerful. Because it’s easy – you can watch distributors. They fucking file out of films after 10 minutes. And that’s their job, to watch movies. It’s easy for them to be like, ‘Well, I wouldn’t be good at releasing this.” Then you got a film festival goer: ‘Well, there’s something I might like better…” so it’s easy to skip. Then you got somebody who doesn’t like the film and they stay all the way through. When they have an incredible amount of opportunities right outside the door. Especially in Vegas.
My film always plays better when people have to buy tickets. In a festival, where people buy badges, and you're not laying out money for each screening, you don’t feel like they have to justify sitting there if it's not your thing. You can just get up and leave and see something else. But once somebody slaps down that $10, they feel like they have to sit through it to get their money’s worth.
For it to work, FROWNLAND relies on that commitment. Which is why I’ve turned down every offer to have it stream on the internet. I know what internet culture is like, and I know how flaky and flighty people are in their internet search habits, ya know? And the way people jump from page to page on the internet is the way people watch movies on the internet. It’s one and the same, I think. I don’t even want to enter into that. Because I know the movie cannot succeed in that way.
I think it’ll play well on DVD. But if you’re the casual audience at home, then it might not work.
Right. But that just outlines how ridiculous or how deluded my general point of view is. I’m worried—I’m turning down opportunities that might be financially rewarding ones—I’m turning down opportunities because it’s more important to me how people see, if they’re gonna be able to see the right way, than it is for me to turn a buck. I don’t know, I’m gonna have to get over that if I wanna keep working, but that’s where I’m at.
But that’s why making this film wasn’t a job. And crowds have connected to it.
Connections have been so strong. Again, if I’m measuring success, basically how strongly the work is actually communicating and how I want it to communicate, then I feel like a million bucks.
Has Dore Mann done anything since?
Not acting-wise. You know he’s going through life. My relationship with him is really complicated, and in a way, it’s really possible that I cannot separate my personal relationship with him with my working relationship with him. They can’t exist independently. We just got so deep into it…Oh God, it’s almost like we accidentally stumbled into the field of psychodrama without the therapeutic knowledge of how to deal with it. But he’s moved into kind of a different line of work. He’s not doing acting. He’s doing social work.
He didn’t do that before?
No. He was always interested in politics and history. That’s what he studied in school. Now he’s working for a needle exchange program. He was working for a suicide hotline at some point, and now this is what he is doing.
So for the film world, he will only be Keith from FROWNLAND, making it stronger.
In general, I really like seeing new faces in moves. I like the lack of baggage. I feel like those are the ones you can really project onto.
When the actors are unknown, it doesn't make it a documentary, but it definitely adds the level of a real world, someone's real experience to a viewer. You are introduced to the characters instead of a favorite actor doing things.
Look, this idea of realism, at face value, this belief in camera as truthteller. The camera is an idiot. The camera is a fool. It doesn’t have anything to say. And some of these movies substitute verisimilitude for discernment. There’s a mistake in that. This idea of realism that all you have to do is sort of capture the external world as it is, as it unfolds, and this is enough to capture how reality makes you feel. And it doesn’t require any sort of heightening and prodding, and getting underneath with the crow bar. I just don’t have a relationship with that, you know what I mean? Because I know how the world makes me feel doesn’t necessarily show up on my face.
But I get so serious when I talk about it. I think the movie is really funny. It’s just that—Maybe that humor reveals itself on repeated viewings. Maybe more than the first screening when you’re so disoriented of where it’s going and who your sympathy should be anchored to…that being in that state of unrest, being in that state of not being sure, isn’t a state that works in tandem with laughing. The second viewing you know where it is, where it should be, and where you stand on watching it…and you can sort of get into that texture of what’s funny about it.
There is an endless discussion about when somebody is laughing at, and somebody is laughing with, a film. And at times something is so extreme I need to laugh in shock.
Exactly. Or just laughing at pure nuance. It’s not even what you’re seeing is funny. But you’re seeing a detail and the case of FROWNLAND you’re seeing his neck contort and his veins pop out of his neck at a moment of such supreme discomfort. That in itself, those details, you wanna react to it. You wanna feel something rolling up inside of you. And you want to let it out, it’s like a steam pipe, ya know? And what are you gonna do? You’re not gonna yell, and you’re not gonna cry in anguish, so the laughter just ends up coming out like a bark.
Again, I don’t want to use my own movie as an example. Because that implies that I think it’s successful. I’m just saying that these are things I’m attracted to, you know what I’m saying?
We are talking about audience reactions to your film, though. And what you think about them.
I didn’t want to the coddle the audience by orienting them to a fixed point of view. I didn’t want to make a morality play in that sense, where there was good and bad. I wanted to pivot around these variuous viewpoints and allow people to sort of feel both ways. Like the roommate. You can say that guy is sort of an arrogant prick. At the same time, when you think of the random lottery of possible living arrangements…who would actually want to be living with Keith? Nobody! No matter how tolerant you are as a person, ya know? I don't care how much compassion you have for the human race. I mean, sure, Keith doesn’t have a malicious bone in his body. But his total inability to read social clues is hardly a saintly quality.
The saint is someone who can deal with him despite all that.
Right. That’s not realistic. The idea is that by the end of the movie you can find grounds for compassion. I hope so. But it’s through a constant process of chewing him over and regurgitating him. Maybe the compassion comes through the backdoor. First you feel good watching the roommate cruelly bitch slap Keith, and then you feel good watching the roommate get bitch slapped himself. Maybe guilt that sits at the root of compassion. I don't know.
(phone hangs up)
(Bronstein calls back)
Sorry, I don’t know what happened.
It’s like you combusted. And then the phone just went out.
I turned to vapor. The Nude Bomb. I got no clothes on now.
Is there going to be…
Someone asks me for what my big inspirations are…what’s so fucking funny about that: by the time you have an aesthetic in place and you’re looking in the world to pick the people that booey that aesthetic, you’re already passed the point of influences. Like for me, as a kid, probably THE NUDE BOMB is a bigger influence on the movie than like Mike Leigh. What you see when you’re 12, you’ll never, ever, ever for the rest of your life be that invested in a movie as you are when you’re 12.
Have you run into any 12-year-olds that have watched FROWNLAND?
It’s funny, I was brought out to Norway to show it. First of all, they brought me to this town. And I went and it was all 13-year-olds. A row of 13-year-old kids.
I don’t know, man. It didn’t feel good. It didn’t make me feel good. It’s not like I want to force this. It’s the same reason why I don’t have it on the internet. It needs to find the right people.
So the guy who was booing in Vegas, did he stay for the Q&A? Did he ask anything.
No, I said to him, “You want to make the first comment?” But then he got cut off.
Somebody else started defending it. Then someone else started defending the boo-er.
Yeah. It was fun, ya know, it was fun. Who doesn’t want to take part in a riot? By no means a riot, but it touches upon that, that, that deep-seated desire.
People should be as hard on the films as the films are hard on the audience. That’s what I wanna live. I wanna live inside of a culture where that is not just acceptable. That is par for the course.
It’s hard for me to even get financing. Someone would see the movie and think, ‘Of course, it’s hard to get financing not making commercial work.” But I’m even saying beyond that. When I have people who are willing to sit down at the table with me, and hear what I’m going for. Since I value that struggle inside of work. Not just all work, but work that I take to…usually you wouldn’t sit down with a businessman until you were on top of your work so much that you can just outline all the details for them and hopefully get them onboard. For me I can only speak about what I’m doing in very broad strokes. Until I’ll be done with it. And even then, it’s going to be something I’m constantly chewing over. Again, I’m looking to expose that struggle in the work that I make. There’s never this point where I’m just together with it. With this new one I’m working on, I’ll never be together until the day I’m done with it. Until it closes over.
Have you found non-traditional financing for the new film?
I just got a grant. And that was really great, that was the first step. A businessman, a producer takes the greatest risk for a work of art. They are the ones putting themselves in the biggest jeopardy based on the way society looks at the world, because they are the ones putting up the money. So in a way, it’s very hard to imagine me creating very personal work unless I share in that risk. I saved up a lot of money for years to do make Frownland, and now I don’t have any left, so i'm reliant on investors. But it’s still really hard for me to come to terms with accepting someone else’s money given the kind of work I wanna make. I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m just beating myself up, but…
Enough distributors have lost tons of money on supposed safe bets. So why not take a chance and have reasonable expectations?
I don’t think if I did get into distribution, based on the level of – based on the kind of deal I would get. I don’t think anything would have been that different. Best-case scenario, I’d play a week in LA, a week in New York, a week in Chicago. You know what I’m saying? I did all those things. It’s just that they would have spent money on advertising, while the only advertising available to me was reviews in newspapers. But all the reviews were good.
Is anything extra on the DVD or is it just the film?
I’m so leary about that kind of stuff. I find ultimately, I don’t know, there isn’t a great thrill. There’s a compulsion to go through DVD extras, but the second they start you are ready to go next thing on the menu.
I don’t mind seeing someone’s short films that I wouldn’t be able to see…stuff like that.
I have some great, great, great process ephemera I would like to include in the package. Like from Dore -- I could make a book out of Dore’s character journals. I have just the most rancorous exchanges between Keith, the roommate and Charles. They are great. So great. Keith’s constant need to be indirect forces him to go thru the most circuitous, longwinded aggressions to explain why he is asking for the money for the bills. He can’t just fucking say, ‘Please, I need the money. It’s due tomorrow. I need the money.” No. He has to recount some analagous anecdote about his fucking grandmother in order to build up the strength to ask.
You wrote the journals?
I would be the middleman. They would write them, I would clean up to get the kind of responses we needed. I would only orchestrate it… But no, they would write it in character and I would clean them up and send them along. So yeah... By that point, it was months into the process and the characters were so formed. I sort of need the presence of the characters to get the details of the scene. That’s the way I work.
What makes the scene come together, those details, they aren’t the type that can be invented on paper as an absolute thing. I’m looking for pure nuance. You wanna know how your film is gonna go, but you wanna be surprised by how it gets there. This would be a simplistic way to put it.
That’s a good quote to end on.
End on something better than that. To hear someone talk about process, it’s the lamest thing ever. Focus on what we were talking about the movie, about the culture. Process I think is…eh. It’s always self-indulgent.
I’m gonna say I met you and you were all tan, wearing a mesh t-shirt.
And a message. I had a message.
Anyway, you got any money?
God, it's so much easier to be honest with people who don’t have money. End on that note. I like that…. I want the struggle to be inside the work.
Frownland on DVD