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SXSW '07 Interview: "The Devil Dared Me To" Director Chris Stapp

by Scott Weinberg

The "Devil Dared Me To" Pitch: Every kiwi lad dreams of greatness. But for little Randy Cambell, the dream is as big as the stunts his not-so-death-defying father died attempting. Young Randy Cambell yearns to be NZ's greatest living stuntman, much to the chagrin of his aunt and uncle who understand that the petrol running in Randy's veins is bound to ignite one day. Can the love of a one-legged female Evil Knieval save Randy and break his descendants' long legacy of fiery and fatal confrontations with the grim reaper?

Describe your movie using the smallest number of words possible.
Fuckin' awesome.

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.
Yeah, nah.

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?
Animator or comic book artist.

Not including your backyard and your Dad’s Handycam, how did you get your real “start” in filmmaking?
I started making ultra-violent no-budget handycam video-nasties with my friends and entering them in a local university film/vid competition. They had beer for prizes and that was a big incentive at the time.

Do you feel any differently about your film now that you know it’s on “the festival circuit?”
It does make it feel more legit.

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

During production did you ever find yourself thinking ahead to film festivals, paying customers, good & bad reviews, etc?
Constantly.

How did this film get rolling at the beginning? Give us a brief history from writing to production to post to just last night.
We wrote it years ago based on characters in a TV show we made called Back of the Y. Then the script sat in a drawer for a few years until our EP's starting calling for submissions for low budget hdDV features so we chucked it in with a bunch of other scripts and got the green light. Then we did shot it over a month at 25 locations in and around Auckland, edited it over the subsequent months and am still doing sound now. And last night I was up all night cutting a montage for the closing credits featuring stunt footage we've shot over the last 12 years.

If you could share one massive lesson that you learned while making this movie, what would it be?
If you want stunts done properly do them yourself.

What films and filmmakers have acted as your inspirations, be they a lifelong love or a very specific scene composition?
Sam Raimi, Jackie Chan, The Story of Ricky' & '70s kiwi movie Goodbye Porkpie.

Did you watch any movies in pre-production and yell “This! I want something JUST like this …only different.”?
Hooper, Devil at Your Heels, Viva Kenivel, Top Gun.

What actor would you cast as a live-action Homer Simpson?
Bruce Willis.

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 remake the Star Wars prequels.

Name an actor in your film that’s absolutely destined for the big-time. And why, of course.
Bonnie Soper. It just sounds like a movie star name.

Finish this sentence: If I weren’t a filmmaker, I’d almost definitely be...
Smoking pot and drawing comics.

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

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!”

Don't think so. When I find myself on set making a second movie.

Honestly, how important are film critics nowadays?
The entire film industry would grind to a halt without these visionary mavericks to spur us along.

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

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?
Make the chop and tell everyone to buy buy the uncut dvd.

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 didn't put 'a film by...' at the start cos it seemed like a bit of a poser thing to do. But let's face it it's really all about me.

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?

Our movie has everything! drama, tragedy, comedy, stunts explosions, violence and rocket cars. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll clutch your nuts in horror. And if you don't like it I personally promise to buy every dissatisfied customer a beer.

---

Chris Stapp's The Devil Dared Me To will have its world premiere at the 2007 South By Southwest Film Festival. And check out BSide.com for even more info!


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=2085
originally posted: 02/19/07 11:35:22
last updated: 03/07/07 09:39:20
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