Stylistically, it’s something more aggressive. It’s something I’ve been working for. I’ve been trying to get to the point of being able to make a film like this for a while. On a technical and aesthetic level I’ve wanted to try this almost, like, mania in a different type of movie. It works like music or something; it’s meant to be more like a feeling, more aggressive, something that’s difficult to articulate. I wanted it to work on you in a very physical way, to wash over, to look like it’s been lit with Skittles.
When I write, when I think of characters, I never see people as all bad or all good. I always think characters with moral flaws or extreme characters are the most interesting for me. I don’t feel like anything begins or ends, I don’t think anything is ever one way. I never really felt like it’s good or bad. And I wouldn’t even say it’s completely honest; it’s more of a feeling. So, like, these girls do things and they reach levels of horror and beauty simultaneously, and that makes things fun.
I was listening to that song and I always loved the sound of that piano in that song, it’s like this airless piano where the keys are made of candy. It’s real inspiring but there’s also something I find very aggressive and violent about it. I was writing the script and I wrote it pretty quickly in a hotel room during spring break in Florida, and I was just listening to it over and over again while writing that sequence. You know how sometimes you just pluck things out of the air?, I don’t really know why I knew it would work or why it would be so beautiful. It’s like some horrific opera or something—pop opera. But yeah, it is, there’s something really gorgeous about those images…Yeah, I worked hard to try to make that shit look good.
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Yes. We would watch movies, and pull from robbery scenes. The robberies weren’t scripted at all. We pulled from The Town, from The Dark Knight, and Heath Ledger’s character. We worked on being fearless, and feeling empowered, as much as we possibly could. We had to stick with that, those feelings, throughout the whole duration of filming.
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That’s where I focused most of my efforts on the film front, catching more than 20 films—in honor of the film conference’s 20th anniversary—most of them produced on very low budgets or premiering for the first time in the United States. I skipped Burt Wonderstone and the Evil Dead reboot, as they’re flicks I’ll see in my local megaplex depending on the Rotten Tomatoes reception. I skipped Before Midnight in favor of a local Austinite’s film, quite regretfully—I’d rather pay to see the final installment of Linklater’s walk-and-talk romance trilogy, anyway. The six films listed here are the ones I found to be the most impressive and important glimpses into the cultural zeitgeist at the 2013 film conference—though there are a number I didn’t get a chance to see due to scheduling conflicts and the fact that the press screening library crammed into the convention center stairwell was so atrociously barren. But with so much paranoia surrounding pirating these days, who’s going to risk turning in a DVD to the media?
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Yeah, that’s kind of how the movie started. I had this idea, and when I wrote it down in a quick treatment—this idea of just characters and scenes—I emailed it to James and he was like, “I’m down, let’s do it.” And it just happened to coincide with spring break and I just hopped on a plane. There were all these girls dressed like Taylor Swift fucking in the hallway at the Holiday Inn where we were staying.
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It is a very American right of passage. There’s awesome about the idea of it, of like, destroying shit and blowing shit up and fucking and puking and then just going home and forgetting about it.
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The style of the film feels like it’s told in these bits like splices from internet clips. Did you want to reflect something about this generation of kids being raised in a time where personal connection is kind of lost and your actions are so disconnected and distant from who you are and without feeling?I never try to do anything or speak to anything specifically; I never try to prove a point. But at the same time, it’s definitely of that world. It’s the idea of that world, that sort of post-everything. And the filmmaking, I wanted to the filmmaking style to be very much of that. There was no real conscious referencing of other films just more the idea, now things just live inside of me and of people and images and sound coming from all directions and falling from the sky. So I wanted the film to never stop moving, I wanted it to be floating and falling and breaking apart and coming together and then smacking the shit out of you and then disappearing. And at the same time, there’s a world that’s created that I hope people—the way things look and feel—I want people, it’s nice if people can identify with that and say, I’ve been to those places and have experienced those things.
You’ve spoken before about being drawn to this sort of gangster mysticism.In the film, these things in some weird way collide. There’s a collision of those two things—they’re gangster mystics. But then there’s something behind it too, there’s something just behind it in the air, a violence and color and a swagger to it.
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