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Oh, was that, "No, we watched ourselves showering" line theirs?
Yeah, that was Kara's brilliance. And her scene where she seduces Gavin Bailey's character—that's all her.
That scene's so perfect. She's got some real comedic genius. The film has a lot of different tones: sci-fi, playful, addiction drama. Did the comedy come out more during the shooting or was that always strongly there?
I always wanted to make a comedy and a sci-fi film and an addiction story; I couldn't decide. I also sort of find being addicted to oneself sort of hilarious.
Well, many artists are narcissists, to some extent. But it's funny because you can only become addicted yourself when you're not producing. (Like, I'll find myself procrastinating against a heavy deadline by googling myself, to see if I've done anything new...)
Yes exactly! Once I'm working, I stop thinking about myself almost entirely. It's a real release from that. Everything becomes about collaborating and making sure that everyone else is comfortable. I become a facilitator. I think when I'm doing my best job as a director, I'm really just getting out of everyone else's way.
Did you think about things like fate, or karma, at all while making this?
Well, I'm a big fan of existential philosophy and I love thinking about god and fate and free will and identity. So, if there is a god, that implies that something is eternal, which implies that every thing in time, past, present and future, has already happened, we're sort of following our paths through the giant cosmic soup, but we're suspended in it—that implies that we don't actually have any free will. We're just observing our lives in a linear story.
This is getting heavy. I like it.
But if there isn't a god, or anything eternal, and time and space are "real," then we do (or may) have a choice in our actions, but then, that means that everything will eventually vanish and turn to dust and be forgotten and none of it matters. So all of our hopes and dreams and loves and ambitions are meaningless. So we might as well not even exist. But my ego is too big to really give into the void.
So how does the ending, the punchline, fit in all this?
Lisa and Ashley, ultimately, "grow up" and choose a path. They commit to being one version of themselves, but that ends up killing a lot of possibilities down the line. To me, that's what growing up is, you sacrifice a bunch of things in favor of another. It's like monogamy. You sacrifice being with the rest of the world for this one person, or a career.
Ah, so it's a sci-fi coming of age movie?
Yeah, but I guess coming of age is kind of sad for me.
How do you see female friendship usually presented in films or TV, and how is that different from your experience of it?
I feel like 90% of the time, the show or film gets it wrong. So often, women are portrayed as catty or jealous of one another or just completely obsessed with men and shopping and their journalism careers. (Why are they always journalists and why do they always have a sassy sidekick?) I feel no more jealously towards my female friends than I do towards my male friends. I love women and I value my female friendships very highly. This film is deeply indebted to my friend, Ashley, whom I lived with for four years, during college and then right after. During those years, she was my primary relationship. She’s still a huge part of my life. The main characters of Cat Scratch are named “Lisa” and “Ashley” because I’m completely unoriginal. The women I know are really smart, funny, silly, tough, vulnerable, affectionate, open, complicated, and they tend to show more layers of themselves when they feel like they are in “safe zones,” which are typically around other women they love. I’m not saying there’s never any drama with my friends, trust that I love drama, it’s just not typically the way it’s shown in the media. There’s no backstabbing. I’ve never been back-stabbed.