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SXSW '05 Interview: 'The Roost' Director Ti West

by Scott Weinberg

The 'THE ROOST' Pitch: Four friends on their way to a wedding find themselves marooned on a mysterious farm. Creatures of the night awaken and the undead rise,as a night of relentless horror begins!

"Spooky, Scary, Dark and Grainy… "

Will this be your first time at SXSW? Any other film festival experience?
First time at SXSW (Pumped to have an excuse to go to the Drafthouse) but I have been in several film festivals with some of my short films. Nothing as big as this though. This feels the most legit…

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?
Doubt I would have had an answer. Never knew it was possible for regular people to make movies. I probably would have said comedian.

How did you get started in filmmaking?
I basically lived at the video store. When I was younger I used to make stop-motion videos with G.I. Joe figures (only half counts). But I had a film history class in high school that just sort of made sense to me. And ever since then I figured it was something I could be pretty good at it. Or at least not the worst…

How have things changed for you since your film was accepted into the festival?
Haven't changed much going in. Fingers crossed they change (big-time) coming out.

When you were shooting the film, did you have SXSW (or film festivals in general) in mind?
SXSW was always in the crosshairs. Ain’t-It-Cool-News means a lot to me, and I always thought it would be a great place to premiere. Plus we have a fun bat correlation with Austin.

How did you get your film started? How did you go from script to finished product?
I knew Larry Fessenden. He was producing low budget movies. I wrote a script in 3 weeks, found the locations, and convinced him it was worth the time. We shot it in 2 weeks, I edited it myself for 2 months, we did sound and special FX for about 3 months, put the final touches on in the summer and here we are.

What’s the one glaring lesson you learned while making this film?
Money goes a long way. It’s ok if you don’t have any, but if you don’t, make sure not to hire anyone who isn’t cool with that.

When you were in pre-production, did you find yourself watching other great movies in preparation?
Not on purpose. Back To The Future would help get me pumped though.

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?
I’m not too big on remakes. If it were to happen it would have to be something obscure that never had its day, or something that I really thought missed the mark, and for some reason believed I could do it cooler. There are a few that come to mind, but maybe I should keep them a secret in case it happens.

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 Tom Cruise. On a more realistic scale I like Peter Sarsgaard, Jake Gyllenhaal and I thought Scott Mechlowicz was good in Mean Creek. It would be cool to maybe make a movie with one of those guys someday. Alison Lohman is really good too. So are Angela Bettis and Dee Wallace Stone. As for my own film, Sean Reid deserves a shot. Hopefully this movie can help get him cast in something big.

Have you ‘made it’ yet? If not, at what point will you be able to say ‘yes’?
No. When I can make a living directing movies, then I have “made it.” I am really lucky to be where I am now and am not complaining. Just still working in the mall...

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?
“A film by” is just a way of stating who the director is up front. I did so…but I don’t think it is pretentious. I think most credits go that way. Besides, it is the director’s vision that defines the film…so therefore it makes sense to me. It’s only pretentious/cheesey when people start using things like “a movie by” or “a flick by” to stand out. Don’t do that.


The Roost, starring Tom Noonan, Karl Jacob, Vanessa Horneff & Sean Ried, will premiere at the 2005 South By Southwest Film Festival. Click here for more information, and be sure to check out the official The Roost website!.

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originally posted: 02/16/05 18:05:16
last updated: 02/17/05 10:09:00
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