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SXSW '05 Interview: 'Hooligans' Director Lexi Alexander

by Scott Weinberg

The 'HOOLIGANS' Pitch: An expelled Harvard student moves to London and finds himself embraced and disturbed by the dominant violence of English soccer culture.

"A story about honor, loyalty and true friendship."

Will this be your first time at SXSW? Any other film festival experience?
This is my first time at SXSW. I was at Sundance a few times, but never with a film. My experience at Sundance was that I never felt like I was around my peers. It didn't feel very independent to me. I guess when J.Lo and Ben Affleck are the center of attention at a festival, every filmmaker with integrity feels out of place.

When you were 14 years old, if someone asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, what would your answer have been?
The female version of Jean-Claude van Damme.

How did you get started in filmmaking?
I moved to the US at age 19, shortly after becoming the World Middle Weight Karate Champion. I had been a child actor in Germany, so I had a lot of encouragement to move to Hollywood to combine my Martial Arts with my acting experience. Chuck Norris sponsored my green card and also recommended me to a drama school. I fell in love with directing when we had an odd number of people in class and I was assigned to direct a scene. My astrological sign, Leo, emerged during that process and I never once had the desire to do anything but write and direct, after all, it is the last existing dictatorship.

How have things changed for you since your film was accepted into the festival?
I get a lot of calls from people who need a room to crash in while in Austin.

When you were shooting the film, did you have SXSW (or film festivals in general) in mind?
We always wanted to do the festival circuit with this film. I think the entire Hooligan team is excited to have our premiere at SXSW. It is a festival with a great reputation and a lot of great attending critics. I say: Bring it on!

How did you get your film started? How did you go from script to finished product?
Wow, that's a long story. First I had the idea, then I brought on a couple of writers. Then we shopped the screenplay around. Ended up at OddLot Entertainment, a great company that is run by women, developed the script with the producers, cast it, went to London and shot it. That's obviously the short version, the one without all the drama.

What’s the one glaring lesson you learned while making this film?
Stand your ground, trust your gut, and as my mother always said: Don't let people tell you that they're right because they've done it for over twenty years. You can do something wrong for twenty years.

When you were in pre-production, did you find yourself watching other great movies in preparation?
Yes, oh my God. I watched tons of movies. I owe a lot to the great filmmakers who have shown us the way.

If a studio said ‘we love this, we love you, you can remake anything in our back catalogue for $40m’ – what film, if any, would you want to remake?
Wow, that's tough. I don't think a lot of films should be remade, because if they were great, then why not leave them alone? Maybe something that could be improved by today's technology, like Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds?

Two parter – name an actor you'd KILL to work with, and then name an actor in your own film that you really think is destined for great things.
I would kill to work with Javier Bardem. He is insane good. A true actor's actor. The one actor in my film that is destined for greatness is LEO GREGORY. Mark my words he will be the next Sean Penn and I'm not the only director who says that. He is a dream to work with and talented beyond belief. Check him out in the upcoming Brit film, Brian Jones, in the title role.

The festival circuit: what could be improved? What's been your favorite part of the ride?
I haven't had enough experience about the festival circuit to complain about it, but check in with me after the festival. :-)

Have you ‘made it’ yet? If not, at what point will you be able to say ‘yes’?
No, I haven't made it yet. I will have it made when I can tell a studio that I want to cast who is best for the part and not who has the most box-office draw.

A film is made by many people, including the director (of course), but you'll often see movies that open with a credit that says “a film by…” – Did you use that credit in your film? If so, defend yourself! If not, what do you think of those who do?
Okay, I'm fucked here, because I have the 'a film by' title. I agree the film was made by a lot of people and it turned out great because of the contribution of all those talented people. If I take on a project that wasn't my idea and I had nothing to do with getting it off the ground, I won't take the "film by" title, but with Hooligans, it really was my baby, so in this case, the title is deserved, much like Titanic was a film by James Cameron, but I promise I don't think I'm the "Queen of the World".


Hooligans, starring Elijah Wood, Charlie Hunnam, Claire Forlani & Marc Warren, will premiere at the 2005 South By Southwest Film Festival. Click here for more information, and be sure to keep an eye out for Hooligans when it hits your neighborhood!

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originally posted: 02/16/05 17:29:27
last updated: 02/17/05 10:11:41
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