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SXSW '07 Interview: "Trigger Man" Director Ti West

by Scott Weinberg

The "Trigger Man" Pitch: Inspired by true events: The story of three hunters who mysteriously became the hunted.

Is this your first trip to SXSW? Got any other film festival experience? If you’re a festival veteran, let us know your favorite and least-favorite parts of the ride.
No, my film The Roost premiered at SXSW two years ago. SXSW is hands down the best festival in the world. Matt Dentler truly supports independent film and independent filmmakers. Anyone who has been a part of the festival circuit understands how valuable something like that really is.

Back when you were a little kid, and you were asked that inevitable question, your answer would always be “When I grow up I want to be a …” what?
Comedian

Not including your backyard and your Dad’s Handycam, how did you get your real “start” in filmmaking?
Film history/theory classes in high school.

Do you feel any differently about your film now that you know it’s on “the festival circuit?”
I tend to make polarizing films...So it will be interesting to see who loves it and who hates it. I am just happy to be done with another film and to be fortunate enough to have such a great place to premiere it.

During production did you ever find yourself thinking ahead to film festivals, paying customers, good & bad reviews, etc?
SXSW was always on my mind as the ideal place to premiere. That is how it went down the last time and I am pretty loyal to those who have been good to me. Luckily they liked this one too.

How did this film get rolling at the beginning? Give us a brief history from writing to production to post to just last night.
I was doing a bigger movie and it became overly frustrating and slow going. Out of the frustration I pitched Larry Fessenden the idea... That basically I could make this dirt cheap movie really quickly that could actually be really great. He agreed. I wrote it in May, shot it in June and finished it in October. It was a really fast process and the most gratifying filmmaking experience I have ever had.

If you could share one massive lesson that you learned while making this movie, what would it be?

If the swat team puts guns to your head and arrests you...Just go with it.

What actor would you cast as a live-action Homer Simpson?
Larry Fessenden.

Say you landed a big studio contract tomorrow, and they offered you a semi-huge budget to remake, adapt, or sequelize something. What projects would you tackle?
Funny you ask...I am currently in North Carolina about to start production on Cabin Fever 2.

Name an actor in your film that’s absolutely destined for the big-time. And why, of course.
Reggie Cunningham. He is one of those naturally unique people that you just have to put in a movie.

Finish this sentence: If I weren’t a filmmaker, I’d almost definitely be...
Miserable.

Who’s an actor you’d kill a small dog to work with? (Don’t worry; nobody would know.)
Mary Woronov. She turned down the movie I am doing right now. It was heartbreaking. She hasn't heard the last of me yet though...

Have you “made it” yet? If not, what would have to happen for you to be able to say “Yes, wow. I have totally made it!”
I suppose I have. I am not "making the big bucks" as they say. But I am doing this interview from the set of a studio movie... So that's about as real as it gets I suppose.

Honestly, how important are film critics nowadays?
Realistically... Probably not very important as far as a movie’s success is concerned. I think most film criticism has become post modern and more about the critics having their own style than it is actually about movies and the state they are in these days.

You’re told that your next movie must have one “product placement” on board, but you can pick the product. What would it be?
Blacken.

You’re contractually obligated to deliver an R-rated film to your producers. The MPAA says you have to delete a sex scene that’s absolutely integral to the film or you’re getting an NC-17. How do you handle it?
Probably freak out and burn bridges like a sociopath... And then cut it. I imagine I will be dealing with this experience in about 8 months. Long live UN-RATED dvds.


What’s your take on the whole “a film by DIRECTOR” issue? Do you feel it’s tacky, because hundreds (or at least dozens) of people collaborate to make a film – or do you think it’s cool, because ultimately the director is the final word on pretty much everything?

I believe in auteur filmmaking. I think it is the director’s vision that defines a movie. I am most interested in films made by writer/director/editors. That doesn’t mean that the making of a film is not incredibly collaborative... Or that an egomaniacal approach is acceptable... It just means that one person is ultimately responsible for what the movie is "supposed" to be...And that is okay.

In closing, we ask you to convince the average movie-watcher to choose your film instead of the trillion other options they have. How do you do it?
Please see my movie TRIGGER MAN. Thank you.

Ti West's Trigger Man will premiere at the 2007 SXSW Film Festival. Click here for more information. And check out BSide.com for even more info!


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=2071
originally posted: 02/12/07 17:02:41
last updated: 03/07/07 09:47:56
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