TIM MCCANN: ON THE ROAD TO NOWHERE

Copping to similarities to the Jim Thompson novel Nothing Man, Nowhere Man virtually tells the story backwards, beginning with the castration and then detailing what led up to the event, from the points of view of both the main characters. Fans of indie horror actress Rochon are likely to see the actress in a whole new light once Nowhere Man is released, and may finally put to rest the improper ‘scream queen’ designation so many genre publications have granted her. While the actress calls McCann “Hands down the most talented director I’ve ever worked with”, McCann had some doubts about casting her in the lead role.
“I first saw Debbie Rochon on the cover of Phantom Of The Movie’s Videoscope. I read an interview with her and decided to ask her to audition. Before the audition, I rented a film she was in. I have to say, the film wasn’t that good, and I could not tell anything from it regarding her abilities. I was very doubtful, but was obligated to see the audition through. She came up to our office and read against my friend for the lead part, and ten minutes later I was in love with her. She was the only actress to take the writing in these difficult, risqué scenes – which had seemed trite and facile coming out of the mouths of the other actresses – and make it more compelling than I could have hoped. I wanted to cast her that second, but had to wait for some of the other producers to have their say. Debbie maintained that depth of emotion in her performance throughout the shoot. She really took my film to another level, which is the most you can ask for with an actor. She was a gift. Whatever B-movie scream queen status she may have, she’s also an actress, with a deep reservoir of emotion and an intense presence. I have to thank the Phantom Of The Movie’s guy, whoever that is, for putting her on the cover.”
Of the production itself, McCann again served as both director and cinematographer. Instead of the twenty-four day shoots he’d enjoyed on his previous films, “Nowhere Man” was shot in twelve. “Nowhere Man” was also shot on digital video, which, McCann says, did little to speed up the production time. “The surprise shooting digital was that you had to be more careful about the lighting, not less. DV cannot handle contrast and detail, so unless you want this distracting and unpleasant crap happening to your image, you have to be very careful and conservative in your setups.”
McCann feels that the key to any shoot is allowing plenty of rehearsal time. He gives his actors plenty of room to explore their characters and improvise dialogue scenes – Revolution #9 was practically born out of improvised rehearsals. It also allowed for a lightening of the mood once the actors reached the set. “Even though the film is rather grim, we were cracking up the whole time at the dark humor. No one will want to miss this film. No one will want to distribute it either. It’ll probably be some kind of cult thing, I think. “Nowhere Man” is any 18-24 yr. old guy’s wet dream of a film: you have dark, risqué humor, porno, cock-size, cock-cutting, jealousy, insecurity, violence, tits, all that stuff wrapped up in a compelling story, driven by an incredibly powerful performance by Michael Rodrick.”
His mention of his lead actor gets his ire up further. Another bone of contention he has with the industry is its lack of acknowledgement of true acting talent. Hollywood would rather canonize empty-shells like Keanu Reeves than pay any attention to someone who actually works at their craft. McCann points to his lead actor in Revolution #9. “That film has shown how great an actor Michael Risley is. Has he gotten the response he deserves? Hardly! And I’m not talking about just me liking him, what about the notices he’s gotten in Variety, The New York Times, The LA Times, The Village Voice… Does anybody in the industry read those? Do they care? Are they looking for talent, or just to hire their cousin? Are they looking for an actor, or the next bodybuilder?”
McCann continues, “There will never be absolute integrity in the business. But never before has there been such a rash of shit films, and [a] void of meaningful American work, that has seen the theatre screen, as there has been over the last ten years. At least when your kid is sent to school and fed McDonald’s or whatever sugar water and fried lard they serve him at lunch, you know the government has issued limits on the amount of feces that is allowable in his food. Using that as a parallel, there are no equivalent limits for the cultural shit we are being poisoned with these days. Considering how many brilliant and talented people there are in this country, it’s a scandal. In the 60s and 70s you had music and film that was mature and meant something more than the sum of it’s gross. Since the early 80s, our culture has increasingly become a corporate garbage dump. The counter culture is dead, the anti-establishment is dead. Back then film and music had emotion and feeling and meaning, the anguish of life, now it’s all about posing, vanity, attitude. Whatever will make us better consumers. And I think this poison will continue to suppress and destroy whatever is good and worthwhile about human beings. I’m hoping to join them someday and make a lot of money.”
There is a bitter edge to his final statement. It’s meant to be a cynical joke, but there’s an unavoidable truth to his words. There is every likelihood that at some point in the future, the suits in Hollywood will notice McCann’s work. He’s gotten too much praise to be ignored. And then the Outsider Artist will be brought into the system and rewarded with money, but hobbled by business-major producers, bludgeoned by test screenings. The industry is a meat-grinder; artists are ground-up and recycled as “product”. When McCann’s time on the red carpet comes, however, let us hope that enough of the Outsider survives.
As for his plans for the immediate future: “I’m shooting another film this summer. Don’t know what it’s about yet.”
In all likelihood, “Nowhere Man” will be making the film festival circuit this summer.




Posted on May 15, 2003 in Interviews by
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