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SXSW 09 Interview: Modern Love Is Automatic Director Zach Clark

by David Cornelius

The South by Southwest rundown on “Modern Love Is Automatic”: Lorraine Schultz works as a nurse in a doctor's office. Every day she rides the bus to work, listens to her co-workers gossip, comes home. None of it really matters. After finding an issue of “Shackled Monthly” on the bus, Lorraine is drawn into a secret, seedy world of lonely men, cheap motel rooms, and whips and chains. Meanwhile, her roommate Adrian’s dreams of becoming a glamorous fashion model are cut short when the only employment she can find is showcasing mattresses in a strip mall. Will Lorraine’s secret life as a dominatrix be revealed? Will Adrian sell enough mattresses to be featured in the big coupon spread? In pursuing their hidden desires and misguided dreams, both girls find their paths crossing in ways they never expected. Yeah. Sure. Okay.

Just what is “Modern Love Is Automatic”?

It’s a movie! It’s a way of life! It’s 93 minutes!

Describe your writing process. How did the story come about?

I originally wanted to make a cable access sitcom/soap opera about a nurse who moonlights as a dominatrix, thinking it would be the perfect opportunity for some “Three’s Company” style hijinx. I started working on the main character with an actress friend of mine and it developed into something a little more serious, and it became pretty clear it needed to be a feature.

My writing process involves me staying up very late and being very, very honest with myself.

The movie’s tagline is “Beyond Apathy” When we go beyond apathy, what do we find?

This movie!

This film deals with a dominatrix; your previous film, “Rock & Roll Eulogy”, dealt with a gang of badass gals out for kicks. Anything you care to explain?

I feel like that’s pretty self explanatory. I like to make movies about things that are awesome.

What got you started making movies?

I started when I was a teenager. I got into cult movies and underground movies when I was fourteen or so, and those are the kinds of movies that will always have a special place in my heart. I went to film school and got into European art house stuff, classic Hollywood, all sorts of other things. Making movies is the only thing I really know how to do, besides making delicious guacamole.

Any lessons learned while making this movie?

Tons! Too many to even think about. This movie changed my life, it changed Melodie’s life. The biggest lesson I learned is this: If you want to do something, just start telling everyone else that you’re doing it, and sooner or later you will either actually do it, or everyone you know will think you’re an asshole.

Are you nervous about coming to South by Southwest?

A little! But mainly stoked. I was at SXSW three years ago as the editor of “Dance Party USA” and had a blast! I love Austin. I love movies. The “Troll 2” doc [“Best Worst Movie”] is premiering. What more could I ask for?

What’s next for you?

I’m writing like crazy. I don’t like to say too much too soon, but I’ve got a script involving four twenty-something girls, the beach, an acid trip, and a blender that I’m very excited about.

If modern love is automatic, what kind of love drives a stick?

The kind of love your parents believed in before they got divorced.

Your movie shares a title with a classic Flock of Seagulls song. Who’s your favorite 80s New Wave band?

There are so many! But Devo might be my favorite band of all time. So I suppose I’ll say Devo. A classic song from another amazing new wave band figures very prominently in the movie. See it and find out which one!

Finish this sentence: If I weren’t a filmmaker, I’d probably be...

really, really depressed.

Rock, paper, or scissors?


In ten words or less, convince the average moviegoer to watch your film.

Full frontal nudity in the first ten minutes.

“Modern Love Is Automatic” has its world premiere as part of the SXSW Emerging Visions series. It screens 7:30 PM March 15, 8:30 PM March 19, and 7:15 PM March 21.

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originally posted: 02/17/09 01:43:24
last updated: 02/21/09 13:31:18
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