|Taking a Bite Out of EDDIE THE SLEEPWALKING CANNIBAL With Director Boris Rodriguez.|
|Written by jmauceri|
|Tuesday, 24 April 2012 00:00|
A festival favorite from the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival finally makes it way to a larger audience on Friday, April 5th, 2013, thanks to the folks at Doppelgänger Releasing. This new cutting-edge genre label from entertainment distributors Music Box Films kicks off its slate with EDDIE: THE SLEEPWALKING CANNIBAL.
Lars (Thure Lindhardt) was once the darling of the international art scene. His proverbial creative block has caused him to slip into the land of has-beens. Lars has taken a teaching job in a small town as a hopeful “therapeutic measure” to stir up his creative juices.
Everything seems rosy at first, and he even meets and hopes to impress his fellow art teacher, the beautiful Leslie (Georgina Reilly), by even taking in the brawny, mute Eddie (Dylan Smith) after the latter’s caregiver passes away. Lars soon discovers that behind the façade of serenity lies something unimaginable as Eddie suffers from a rare form of sleepwalking which transforms him into a ravenous sleepwalking cannibal. At first horrified by Eddie’s nocturnal cravings, Lars becomes spellbound by him and it reignites his artistic muse. Thus proving that truly exceptional art comes at a very high price. However, how long can Lars allow Eddie to satisfy his appetite for the sake of his art!
Director Boris Rodriguez studied Film Production at Concordia University’s Fine Arts Centre in Montreal. His first short project was the award-winning documentary "Havana Kids" in 1996. That same year he attended the Canadian Film Centre as a director resident and spent the following two years practicing his craft at TVO. In 2000 Boris’ second film, "Beso Nocturno," premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was selected by MoMA in New York. In 2004 his third film, "Perfect," premiered at TIFF. Boris’ first French language film, "Maison Jolie Maison" is slated for production in the fall of 2012, while EDDIE – THE SLEEPWALKING CANNIBAL marks Boris’ feature debut.
FEARS: As both the director and screenwriter for EDDIE THE SLEEPWALKING CANNIBAL, what was the genesis for this cabalistic tale you've woven?
Boris Rodriguez: It was actually originally pitched to me I a colleague and friend, John Reynolds. His original idea was a werewolf and the novelist, and it was set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina on the sand dunes during the off-season. As he was pitching it to me I told them that there was something autobiographical about it. He said to me, "What you talking about?" The creativity, the destructive process of doing anything for your art, and he began to understand what I was drawing from it. So the mystery of his wackiness and my darker sensibilities created this story about art and cannibalism. Eventually he won onto LA and I took the story up to Canada. Sand dunes became snow, the werewolf became a sleepwalking cannibal, and the novelist became a painter.
FEARS: I think your film shares of camaraderie with other films like "Shaun of the Dead," "The Evil Dead," and even the comedic sensibility of "Monty Python." Over the years I've had a chance to pose this question to many harder actors and I think it's a rather unique situation when I pose it to you. There seems to be a unique relationship between comedy and horror. As both the writer and director of this film, do you feel that this symbiotic relationship exists between the two genres?
Boris Rodriguez: I think inherently there is. Both genres can't take themselves too seriously at any point because they'll kill the experience. As opposed to a drama or documentary, it didn't take itself very seriously and not take away from what the experiences. But a comedy and a horror is first and foremost about the funny. Even the darkest, creepiest, ghost movie, which has to take itself seriously in order for it to get under your skin, at its core it's a fun ride. It's like a roller coaster ride. It would be fun and less you thought you could die at any moment. You know you not, therefore it's fun. Comedy is the same thing. It's like the little kid inside of us wants to have a good time, and both those genres cater to that little kid inside of us. Comedy we want a laugh and horror we want to be scared. I think in that sense they do go hand-in-hand. Ironically, as I've seen sometimes, when you're watching somebody laughing whose watching somebody being dismembered on-screen I certainly find it funny.
FEARS: Interesting you should mention dismemberment because in the scenes where we witness Eddie's aftermath, and his rampage at the end, again remind me of what was done in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." In your case you weren't pushing the blood and the gore is much. As you discussing this in preproduction what was your approach to those elements of the film?
Boris Rodriguez: Our approach to the horror and the gore was less is more. The more you imagine it the scarier it can be. We took three films as reference for different reasons continuously throughout the shoot. For production design we looked at "Lars and the Real Girl," for acting it was "Fargo," and for the horror aspect it was "Let the Right One In," which also used a less is more approach. I don't know if you remember the scene where there's a guy on his knees and is a body hanging from a tree. There in the forest. You just hear something being sliced and then you hear the blood trickling into the bucket. You never see anything. That little bit that you hear, that evokes more creepiness and the scarier than if you actually showed something. Plus on a reduced budget it's great, let the imagination deal with what the budget can't.
FEARS: Actor Thure Lindhardt, who plays Lars, seems like he's playing the straight man to Eddie, played by Dylan Smith. Smith who plays Eddie is fabulous. He has no lines of dialogue in the movie. Yet his facial expressions and body language just emotes everything that the character needs to communicate to the audience. How hard, how difficult, was the casting process to find your Eddie?
Boris Rodriguez: Ironically enough, Dylan Smith was the second person to walk into the room when we were conducting the additions in Toronto. I did tell him on the spot, but I knew he was the guy. The only reason why I didn't tell him was just in case somebody else who might of been even better came in. I knew that it wasn't going to be the case because it was a tall order from the start to cast that role. I was looking forward big, muscular, brawny guy could also be vulnerable and tend. The casting director just looked at me as I was describing that to him and I could see him rolling his eyes and thinking how much more difficult are going to try to make this for me. They did say that there were a couple of actors who were not necessarily the giants I was looking for, but Sara Kay and Jenny Lewis in Toronto had somebody in mind and that was the second person they brought in, Smith.
FEARS: I know many filmmakers out there right now who are trying to get financing for their projects. I found it interesting that your film is a multi-international finance project. Canada government has very liberal film and arts funding, but how did this particular financing package for your film come together?
Boris Rodriguez: First let me say that the arts and cultural projects in Canada, especially the film industry, has taken a bit of a hit with the current conservative government that we have. I don't want to put all the blame on them, because there are austerity measures across the board all over the world because these are hard times. That said, there was a government agency that did support the film early on and that allowed me to move around. I always knew that films have to be international co-productions these days. The wider the net you cast the better chance you have at securing little bits of money from everywhere, and spreading the risk around. You can try spreading the risk around in one country, as they do in the US because it's a big country, but if you're not in the US then you really have to spread it around among different countries. It was always the intention but we didn't really know what country that was going to be until we cast Thure Lindhardt in the role of Lars. As soon as the Danish producers knew that their second-biggest actors was in a low-budget Canadian horror/comedy film they got in touch with us and wanted to be a part of it. That's how we got the budget together. It was a wonderful German sales agent at Bavaria Film International who believed in the project early on and they helped make it possible. I don't know how many other filmmakers are going to see this, but the hardest thing is to raise financing for film. If you can move around and keep your prospects open to from where ever the interest comes in and have a better time at making your film possible. Then he these days were so globalized and interconnected that if you think globally/internationally you up your chances. I honestly believe that.
FEARS: A few years ago when I interviewed author Harlan Ellison we were discussing the craft of writing and he said something to the effect that if you're a real writer you slit open your wrist and bleed into the typewriter. When you look at the plot for EDDIE and the relationship between Lars and Eddie, as the writer and director on the project do you see yourself as someone who suffers/bleeds for their art?
Boris Rodriguez: I'm very much someone bleeding into the typewriter, in the basement, for sure. I think the harder something is the more rewarding it becomes. Making a film is incredibly demanding. Making this film was my first feature and was by far the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. It was a colossal undertaking and that's what makes it the most rewarding. There were many times that I metaphorically bled myself dry over this film.
FEARS: So here at the festival you had the opportunity to watch your film with an American audience. Did you find that there were some moments in the film that didn't get as big a reaction as you were expecting or other moments where you got a response from the audience that you weren't counting on?
Boris Rodriguez: My main concern was that the audience would love the film as much as I hoped. Immediately after the screening I got a sense from the Q&A that the audience enjoyed it more than I thought. I had a few people who explained to me that what happens on premiere night is that there is this little bit of a serious feel because it's an important event. Also, because it's a horror/comedy you're really not sure where you're supposed to laugh. And as your thinking that the director is in the room you don't want to be insulting you might not laugh were supposed to, or you might not laugh as loud as you want to. So that affected the decibel level of the crowd at the premiere. It was certainly there and it was certainly at the right spots. I was reassured after that it was an enjoyable experience for the majority of the people in attendance. So overall I was very happy. It actually playing a lot better to US/North American audiences that it has been to European audiences. It's like there's a difference in the appreciation. You never know where it's going to find its home. It looks like it might find a better home here in North America. Although it is doing good in Europe as well. As long as it finds an audience I'm happy.
FEARS: Come the end of the film Eddie is still out there in the world, we get a sense that officer Verner is alive, and that crazy little Canadian town is still out there somewhere. Are you done with Eddie's universe or if the market is there could there be a sequel you see yourself involved with?
Boris Rodriguez: When I finished the script and then shot the movie for me the process was done. However, I'm open to taking it someplace else. That's why there is this nebulous, kind of suggestive ending. Honestly, it's not up to me. At this point it's all about how well the film does will determine if there is a sequel when not.
FEARS: This film has its comedy elements, it's hard elements, some darker moments of tension and drama, and I think it clearly demonstrates your versatility as a filmmaker. Is this a highbred genre that your comfortable living within or do you see yourself making more single genre, mainstream films?
Boris Rodriguez: That's a really good question and that's some of the stuff that I'm thinking about continuously these days. Because it made the task of making this film that much more difficult by playing with two genres it puts a lot of pressure on all the people you're collaborating with. Whether it's set design or costume design, they want to know if this is serious or funny. And you tell them both. While it made it difficult I feel that I got the tone that I wanted and now I realize how difficult the task that was. If I'd have known I might not set that as a challenge for my first feature. But we did it. It's emboldened me to go after difficult tones, which I think are more rewarding when you get them right for the audience. You've seen a lot of films and you know that tone is rare to come by.
Originally I thought I wanted to do something more straightforward, with a slightly bigger budget, but definitely more of a genre film just to facilitate the process. This was done so well that I'm thinking maybe I love taking chances, I love getting people excited, and I love testing audiences. I like scaring audiences, and when you see fear in somebody you can also see them rising to the occasion. People will do their best work when they don't let challenges overwhelm them.
Everything on EDDIE was extremely challenging. We shot at night and in the dead of winter in Canada. The temperatures were often -28 to 30°C. I don't know if that is in Fahrenheit. It was brutally cold and made filming difficult. It just seemed to bring out the best in everybody. It goes back to bleeding into your typewriter.
|Last Updated on Monday, 01 April 2013 23:55|