I read you also studied art history in school. This is a very textured, “painterly” movie. In part because you shot on 16mm. Did you have a particular historical style or period in mind when you envisioned the aesthetic?
I like portraits. Throughout the movie, I tried to shoot Kate and Kentucker like individual portraits. There are only a few two-shots, and when there are two-shots it’s when the characters are “in sync.” For the most part it’s close-ups of each person locked up in their own space in this car, just getting one singular emotion across. Like Whistler’s Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1. Obviously I could make other references, but that’s one everyone knows, “Whistler’s Mother.” There’s something emotionally beautiful about it.
The cinematographer Jay Keitel and I, decided that, for this story, it’s more interesting be close-up and be intimate with their thoughts and their emotions, rather than to take a step back and shoot it more thriller-style, to see two criminals objectively in the landscape. I don’t respond to landscapes. I respond to faces.
Was making the film cathartic? You hinted as much at SXSW, but also joked that you didn’t want to treat the Q&A like a big therapy session.
I made the film at a very extreme period in my life. I could just talk in circles about the meaning is but the truth is, when I wrote it, it was just this emotional burst and things made sense to me in an emotional way but not a logical way. It’s based off a nightmare I had, so already that sort of visceral basis for the film is in there already. It follows a story, because my nightmare was somehow, magically, very linear.
You know, I thought it would be much more cathartic than it ended up being. I’ve become very aware especially during Q&As of how personal it is and where I’m willing to be completely honest and where I want to keep things to myself. The film is cutting open a lot of veins for me. When I answer questions, I’m as secretive about my own personal demons as I am with the plot publicly.
I see you’ve played at several festivals now. Are you planning to self-distribute?
We’re figuring that out right now. We have offers. If you don’t go with somebody who is completely passionate about your movie, it’s kind of a no-brainer to just do it yourself. That said, it takes up all your time getting it out there. It’s kind of like, do you want to spend the next year getting this movie out, or do you want to make your next film?
More and more people are going to start taking the leap and self-releasing, building that in to their preproduction plans. But you need to have it in your head when you begin the film so you can start marketing it immediately. It takes a whole lot of time to get that going.
It’s such a strange landscape right now in terms of the life of an independent film. People aren’t just going to the movies as much anymore, even big Hollywood movies. Which is why I love the Rooftop Films series. It gets people to come out and enjoy independent films. I think things are going to start moving in that direction, toward live screenings and event-oriented settings. Rooftop is doing exactly what is good for independent films.
Seems like outdoor independent screening series are gaining traction in several cities. It’s almost like the return of drive-in movies.
On a rooftop in New York City, there’s a sense of community you wouldn’t get in a dark theater. Like a drive in, it feels special. It’s more fun.