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SXSW '07 Interview: "Elvis and Anabelle" Director Will Geiger

by Scott Weinberg

The "Elvis and Anabelle" Pitch: A young mortician and a small-town beauty queen become unlikely romantic partners after the latter makes a mysterious return from the grave.

Describe your movie using the smallest number of words possible.
A young mortician and Miss Texas fall in love and runaway together.

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.
First time to SXSW. Previous feature Ocean Tribe played the L.A. Film Festival. Favorite part is seeing movies I can only see at a festival. Least favorite is... I dunno, it's all fun.

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?
Navy Frogman.

Not including your backyard and your Dad’s Handycam, how did you get your real “start” in filmmaking?
Attended a junior college where I made short films.

Do you feel any differently about your film now that you know it’s on “the festival circuit?”

Of all the Muppets, which one do you most relate to?
The Count.

During production did you ever find yourself thinking ahead to film festivals, paying customers, good & bad reviews, etc?
There wasn't enough time.

How did this film get rolling at the beginning? Give us a brief history from writing to production to post to just last night.
Wrote the script a few years ago, then the usual -- met with a million people who loved it but wouldn't write a check till Goldcrest and Burnt Orange came along. They loved the idea of the cast, saw pictures of locations I had scouted, saw a visual presentation I put together and dove in. Shot the film all over Texas late spring, edited in Austin, post at Goldcrest's unreal facility in NY and here we are.

If you could share one massive lesson that you learned while making this movie, what would it be?
Put your deals on paper from the get-go -- that way it's clear and nobody gets hurt.

What films and filmmakers have acted as your inspirations, be they a lifelong love or a very specific scene composition?
Milos Forman, Claude Lelouch, Wong Kar Wai, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Terrence Malick, Scorcese.

Did you watch any movies in pre-production and yell “This! I want something JUST like this …only different.”?
For scene composition -- studied all the above director's work (and more).

What actor would you cast as a live-action Homer Simpson?
My brother Bob -- only because he works in a nuclear power plant.

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?
I'd like to adapt a great novel. Wouldn't want to remake anything great as the cards are stacked against you from the get-go.

Name an actor in your film that’s absolutely destined for the big-time. And why, of course.
Have to pick two -- Max Minghella -- has the presence, charisma and talent of James Dean, Daniel Day Lewis, the other is Blake Lively -- beautiful and an unbelievable actress!

Finish this sentence: If I weren’t a filmmaker, I’d almost definitely be...
Boat captain somewhere in Polynesia.

Who’s an actor you’d kill a small dog to work with? (Don’t worry; nobody would know.)
Daniel Day Lewis.

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 truly don't care about "making it" as much as having ability to make films back to back without the struggle for financing.

Honestly, how important are film critics nowadays?
To me personally, very important. I learn a lot from reading reviews, considering opinions of good critics. Obviously not as important to mainstream viewers -- "Epic Movie"?

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

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?
Keep chipping away at the scene and resubmit to the MPAA. If that fails, reshoot the scene, find an interesting way to get the same point across without seeing anything.

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 think it's okay if you are also the screenwriter on the project -- then it's been your idea and your vision of that idea since day one. I wouldn't take it on something I didn't write.

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?
Lethal force -- it's the only way.


Will Geiger's Elvis and Anabelle will have its world premiere at the 2007 South By Southwest Film Festival. Click here for the official Elvis and Annabelle website. And check out for even more info!

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originally posted: 02/19/07 10:13:21
last updated: 03/07/07 09:40:01
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