B-MOVIE BONANZA: TRUE “INDEPENDENT” STEPHEN KESSLER (part 3)

The web site you created to promote the film, Fineman Films, contains an incredibly detailed list of fictitious films, 427 in all. Have you ever fooled anyone into thinking that they are real? ^ We hope that more and more people will visit the site and add their own fake reviews of Fineman Films, and, if they really have energy, their own “clips.” As for fooling people, we get requests at least once a month from some foreign distributor for titles like “Third Leg’s A Charm” and “Saturday Night Fever Blister.”
Can you offer any kernels of advice to emerging filmmakers on how they might secure funds? I mean, what do you say in the room to someone you are are asking to write a check for tens of thousands of dollars? ^ The best thing I can say is: put your own money in, to the extent you can, so people know you are sincere. In our case, we got the cast together first, which we did actor by actor, piece by piece. And the next thing you know, you’re shooting. You must believe that the film is going to get made, even when you don’t believe it. You must put forth the idea that it is going forward, and people will get involved.
Okay, a very important question about nudity: how do you shoot nude scenes? ^ I had never shot a nude scene before this film, and let me say, the key is to be tasteful and sensitive on the outside, while still reserving some part of you inside that is excited and taking in the experience for jack-off purposes later on. Actually, that’s not the truth. the truth is that you look at the girl as a naked girl for about ten seconds and then you start worrying that if you don’t make her look at least as good as girls look in those late night movies on Cinemax, you’re in a ton of shit. And then you say to yourself, how do they get breasts to look so good in the movies? Make-up on nipples? It’s all very upsetting, really.
What do you say to a naked lady? Or, what exactly do you say to get a woman naked? Is it as easy as writing out a check? ^ It is pretty much a financial transaction. At one time, we were looking for a girl to play the three breasted woman, and Maria Ford (who was in a scene that was recut, and not available for the reshoot) said, “Y’know, Steve, if you can’t find anyone, I don’t have any big problem with nudity.” That really touched me.
Not to get too philosophical, but why exactly is nudity so critical to the success of any B-movie? Are boobs, butt and pie that important? ^ The next time you sit in an independent movie house, look at how many of the trailers for these bullshit high brow films are sold on sex. That tells you all you need to know. When the literati are running to see Eyes Wide Shut to get a look at Nicole’s privates, you know why people go to the movies.
Um, Julie Strain, you’ve got to fill us in on details of working with Julie. I love her. ^ What can you say about a girl who makes her living with her body jumping through a glass window for you? The woman gives, and gives, and gives. Julie showed up for her audition with a sawed off shotgun. She said she had no agent, but she would work for scale, and started to do her lines. And we said, hey, we’re happy you’d be in this. You’re Julie Strain, for godsakes. And she said, but I rehearsed, I want to do them. And so she did. Julie was wonderful. She’d show up on days off. Her husband, Kevin Eastman, is the man on the ground dead in the “Woman at Work” movies in our film. She shot a ton of stuff for our website. I can’t say enough nice things about her, but I know she’d appreciate if everyone stopped by her web site at JulieStrain.com.
Many directors talk about having fortunate “accidents” on the set — something unplanned that just “happens” and adds to a scene. Did anything like that happen when shooting The Independent? Any improv by the actors? ^ The Independent relies very heavily on improv. I always feel that, as a director, if you’re very prepared when you come onto the set in the morning, you can be loose enough to accept new and better material. Janeane would change stuff constantly. Some of the best stuff in the movie is improved. For example: Ron Howard and Peter Bogdanovich riffing on “Bald Justice”, all of Karen Black’s dialogue, Julie Strain’s shit fit in the first scene, Max and Jerry sitting in the Mexican restaurant, and a lines I wish I’d written–when Brian Posehn, playing a fan of Morty’s, says “I’ve seen all your films. I’ve seen all of Scorseses’ films, too, but they ain’t half as easy to masturbate to, as yours.” It says everything about why people go to the movies, if you ask me.
Get the rest of the interview in part four of B-MOVIE BONANZA: TRUE “INDEPENDENT” STEPHEN KEssLER>>>




Posted on December 9, 2001 in Interviews by
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