Sundance may be over, but we’ve still got one more tidbit of goodness on tap for ya! A transcript of the Q&A with the director of the highly praised and depraved little flick Excision (review here), Richard Bates, Jr.!
Warning! Spoilers to follow!
Bates Jr.: Thanks for sticking around … questions … you should have a few.
Q: What is your favorite color?
A: Turquoise (laughter) … turquoise and red!
Q: Is there any real stories behind this?
A: Well yeah actually, bits and pieces like I said and it’s a kinda strange kinda sell. A lot of it’s about me growing up in Virginia. I mean that’s how I got here, I’ve gone strange ways. I’ve gone down on a girl on her period. Everyone tells me I am so crazy. But really it’s about me growing up in Virginia and trying to make my parents proud of me. It’s a feature length film of a short that I did, and the short actually has the exact same ending. When we made the short, we decided to make it a feature and see what happens next. That is not what it’s really about to me; it’s about her mother finally loving her and sort of realizing how far they went in opposite directions and it takes that (the ending) to have that moment of clarity where they both realize what they did to each other. So it’s kind of a super-personal kind of a movie. At the end of the day I took something from all of my heroes like Dario Argento, David Cronenberg. Like I said, I wanted to make a movie that would be super-important to me if I had gotten hold of it when I was 18.
Q: I have a question, I was wondering if when you were creating the characters if you created the characters in the real world or more like a metaphor or a lack of metaphorically reality where like all the emotions that could be expressed that it is to be a teenager and an outsider?
A: Kind of a cool question. Everyone is sort of based loosely on people that I know. Then when I got all the actors involved and started, like Traci. I always wanted to make a movie with Traci Lords. She is this wonderful, smart and good lady. She’s a mom and has three little kids. She gets all of these shit roles because of her past. I was like, “Let’s reinvent you and show people you can do this.” She liked it and that was sort of a huge drive to do that. Then from her we got AnnaLynne, but basically I wanted to write this up for every character to make it just as personal to them as it was for me. So this is all like kinda therapy more or less.
Q: What part of VA are you from?
A: McLean, right outside of DC, about 20 minutes from DC.
Q: What is AnnaLynne’s story?
A: AnnaLynne’s story is much like my story and we’re both out of our fucking minds. But actually John (Water) is my hero, he got me World Series tickets, so John is like Baltimore to me. So I sent him the script and he called me back and said, “You are the king of making weird scripts”. When John says that to you, it’s concerning. There’s a looooong pause and I wasn’t sure if he was gonna do it, but he said “Okay, look, I don’t fly coach and I’m not shaving my mustache, but I’m in”. Back to AnnaLynne, I didn’t want to mess up this movie and cast some 90210 super-babe, it had to be a girl we are supposed to be able to relate to. But when she came to lunch for the interview, she was like in character, just nuts. She is really this wonderful and interesting girl, she couldn’t have been more unlike Pauline in comparison to any character she has ever played. But I told her I was going to have to have her shave all her hair, trying to provoke her to see if she even wanted to do this; so she took a steak knife off the table and started cutting her hair off and throwing it at me. I then called Jason and said, “We fucking found Pauline”.
Q: Did Pauline use prosthetic eyebrows?
A: Yes, you see a lot of these actors don’t look a lot different from you or me. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors in Hollywood. Not saying she’s not a babe ‘cuz she is.
Q: How long was your shoot?
A: 28 days sir. 28 crazy, crazy days.
Q: What color did you shoot with?
A: Red, lotsa red.
Q: So it all started off kinda humorous; did you ever consider an alternative ending, or is this the ending you had in mind from the start?
A: Like I said, this is the feature version of the short that I made back in film school. That had this end, so this was always the ending. It was a personal story for me. I mean, life is kinda terrible and funny at the same time. Does that do anything for ya? (laughter) It was pretty good.
Q: What scene was the most challenging for you to do?
A: I would have to say it was the bathtub scene with the naked girls. I only asked for 8 girls and my producer got so fucking excited about the possibility of auditioning girls naked, I walked in the room and there were like 25 of them and I said, “You asshole”. It ended up being way better and I guess it looks better now. Then there’s the final scene also because everyone is so tense and wild and it was so, so important because you know if that didn’t work, the movie doesn’t work. The idea was that if these people were going to take a chance on me I would take a chance on them.
Q: The scene with the baby, who donated the baby for that scene?
A: That baby is actually a 45-year-old man, my friend. No kidding. He donated himself. (Laughter)
Q: Did Pauline realize in the movie that her sister wasn’t going to survive?
A: It was a lot about entitlement how everyone, kids these days, think they can do anything without putting in the work. I mean as she becomes progressively more delusional, like in her fantasies she is gorgeous. That is how she sees herself. I think in the movie that she is convinced that she can do this until that moment of clarity at the end when she enters her mother’s arms.
Moderator: We have time for one more question.
Q: Why did you choose the protagonist to be a girl?
A: Because I am a guy and we are just so fucking simple and boring. I mean my God, I am soooo interesting (laughter). I thought we would give it a shot with a girl and we worked together on it.
We good? Thanks again, guys, for coming out. (Applause)
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