How did you get the money to produce the film? ^ Well, I’ve been working 40 hours a week for years now, and I always just pour about half of my income, if not all of it, into making these things. We didn’t get investors. We just financed it ourselves. Casey and I work a lot, and my fiancee, Amanda Staggs, who was also the Key Makeup Artist on the project, put up money too. Our Executive Producer, Eric Fleming, who I’ve known for like 16 years, put up the majority of the money for the movie. Eric has collaborated with me a lot, having acted in several of my films. We had a crew of about 60 people, and built everything from scratch, including the sets, sound design, etc. It’s over $10,000 that’s for sure, but I’m not sure how much more. The budget just keeps growing.
How did you pull together a cast that includes Mark Borchadt and Lloyd Kaufman? ^ I met Lloyd out in Utah during the fests last year, and there was some weird psychic connection between us. Honestly, I was not as familiar with Troma as I am now, but I knew that Lloyd was a renegade genius, and that he loved art. I loved Terror Firmer, and knew that Lloyd appreciated things outside of the mainstream, having released “Combat Shock”, which is a favorite too. Lloyd is like a father figure to me now, and I owe him my soul. He’s been a real inspiration since. ^ As for Mark, I’d met and chilled out with Sarah Price at a party out there the same year, and I vented about Hollywood and the politics of the indie film world. She was super nice, and months later it popped in my head to cast Mark. She gave me his number, I called him, and it was a done deal. Mark just thinks I’m crazy, but over time we’ve become very close friends. ^ We flew Mark out First Class, and put him up. We also flew Lloyd out, and put him up at the Mansion, the nicest place in Dallas.
How was Mark on the set? And how much beer did you have to supply him daily? ^ Mark was perfect. He listened very attentively, and followed me even when I was ambiguous. However, I made an agreement with him that there would be no drinking during actual production, so no beer on the set. It had to be that way, because I wanted him focuses, and he said that he wasn’t going to drink anyway. After the shoot days though, the party rocked with the power of liquid happiness.
How do you direct a legend like Lloyd Kaufman? ^ Like anyone else. You can’t play favorites, and besides, Lloyd is a true gentleman and a total pro. We rehearsed a lot, and I gave him a whole back-story, including a short story that I wrote from the point of view of his charcter. I did have to tell Lloyd to be quiet a lot, but I think he respected me more for that. I get obsessive, and it doesn’t matter who it is, but we’ve gotta be on the same page. Lloyd was superb.
Did Lloyd try to take over during his scenes? ^ Not really. He was tuned into that thing that I needed from his performance, and we were all in that world. Lloyd does speak great French though, and aside from most of his dialogue, there was some improvisation with a couple of his lines.
How do you direct nude scenes? More importantly, how do you get an actress to take her clothes off? ^ You have to be focused on the film. It doesn’t matter what’s going on, or who’s taking their clothes off, because you’re in this other place. Actually, I had to fight Masuimi to keep her clothes on, even though some people on the crew got mad at me for that. It’s all fun, but you’ve gotta keep the story in mind the whole time.
Get the rest of the interview in part four of RAMZI ABED DIGS HIMSELF IN DEEPER>>>
Posted on February 8, 2001 in Interviews by Chris Gore
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