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SXSW '06 Interview: 'Fuck' Director Steve Anderson

by Scott Weinberg

The 'Fuck' Pitch: A documentary that takes a look at the infamous F word from both the liberal and conservative perspective. From Hollywood to the schoolyard to the Senate floor it's the word at the very center of the debate on free speech, and everyone seems to have an opinion.

Describe your movie using the smallest number of words possible.

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.
Yep, it’s the first time at SxSW, but not my first time in Austin. Great town, lotsa fun, (maybe too much sometimes) and I intend to take advantage of everything. We’re thrilled to be in the fest and all the rumors of our providing transvestite hookers and eight balls as a bribe to Matt Dentler are patently untrue. At least about the transvestite part.

Been to plenty of fest along the way, starting with my first film The Big Empty and now with Fuck, and they’re always a blast. Great audiences, pretty women and more often than not, free booze. All the fests are different, with their own personalities, but they’re always run by the great people who treat the filmmakers with respect and gratitude. It’s a welcome relief from dealing with the generally insane life of making movies. It’s also really cool to wear a pass around your neck all the time - it’s generally the only time I get to use the word “lanyard.”

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?
I seem to remember “Marine Biologist” coming up a lot, but I'm not sure why because I hate to swim. But one Easter, when I was maybe ten, I coerced my Mother into buying me George Carlin's “Class Clown” and I played the “Seven Dirty Words” cut over and over for my friends. Right then I learned the power of words and being able to make people laugh doing it. Think I've always wanted to make people laugh, especially pretty women. Which I can now accomplish anytime I want just by pulling down my pants.

Not including your backyard and your Dad’s Handycam, how did you get your real “start” in filmmaking?
I was a cameraman for about 15 years, working for CNN and a bunch of other clients. I never once thought of it as my career and spent every available moment writing scripts and learning about the biz. The more you know about the business - the financing, the budgets, the actors, the distribution - the better filmmaker you're going to be. Every needs a break, but you best be prepared for it when it comes along. All that said, my real “start” in filmmaking involved lots of tequila, some kneepads and a back door key to ICM's parking garage and that's all I'm going to say about it.

Do you feel any differently about your film now that you know it’s on “the festival circuit?”
Well, not really. It's the film I set out to make and I've been thrilled that audiences seem to really like it. Everyone seems to really enjoy saying the word “fuck” after seeing the movie. I hardly get a question in the Q&A's that doesn't include it in some way. We're in negotiations at the moment for an actual theatrical release this summer so I guess I might like the film even better if it starts to put some money in my pocket, but in the meantime we'll happily play on the “circuit.” It's better than diggin' ditches for a living.

Of all the Muppets, which one do you most relate to?
Actually I had more of a “Mister Roger's Neighborhood” kind of childhood. I liked to ride that little red trolley to “The Land of Make Believe” though Mr. McFeely always kind of creeped me out.

During production did you ever find yourself thinking ahead to film festivals, paying customers, good & bad reviews, etc?
No, I don't think you really think ahead that far – you're too busy trying to get producers to approve the $106 charge for, ahem, “office supplies.” We did spend a lot of time considering what to call the film, given its subject matter, and how it might raise some controversy and be tough to market. But in the end, I felt it the only honest thing to do was to call the film “Fuck” and roll with the punches. It's what the film is really about anyway, how this one simple word can effect society. Any anyways, we have a built-in two-word response to all bad reviews. One of the words is”off.”

How did this film get rolling at the beginning? Give us a brief history from writing to production to post to just last night.
Fucking broke > Fucking idea > Fucking production > Fucking editing > Fucking festivals > Fucking huge box office > Fucking rich > Fucking Salma Hayek.

Well, those last three? A boy can dream, right?

If you could share one massive lesson that you learned while making this movie, what would it be?
Never give up and never forget the Vaseline.

What films and filmmakers have acted as your inspirations, be they a lifelong love or a very specific scene composition? Did you watch any movies in pre-production and yell “This! I want something JUST like this …only different.”?
Well, there's probably too many to mention, but watching movies can be a great inspiration – in fact I sat down and watched everyone of Tera Patrick's films, twice, before I interviewed her.

What actor would you cast as a live-action Homer Simpson?
Good question, but to be fair I think you'd have to give it to Dan Castellaneta.

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?
It might be fun to remake the last two presidential elections.

Name an actor in your film that’s absolutely destined for the big-time. And why, of course.
Well, there's just too much talent involved to pick out just one, but I think it goes without saying that Tera Patrick has got some really big things coming.

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

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

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'd say once you think you've made it, it's over. That said, if Salma calls, I'll feel pretty close.

Honestly, how important are film critics nowadays?
Some critics are brilliant geniuses, others are worthless idiots. You can easily tell one from the other by reading the various reviews of my films. And since Fuck has been reviewed only a few times so far, there's plenty of upcoming opportunities for the critics to reveal just how brilliant they really are.

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

Actually, a funny story. My favorite day of the year is a day I call “The First Day of Summer Dresses.” It's, of course, the first hot day of the very early spring, where all the woman first step out in that new little summer dress they bought during the winter. About seven or eight years ago, “The First Day of Summer Dresses” happily happened to coincide with the first release of the Wonderbra. It was the greatest single day of my life.

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?
I call Kirby Dick, ask for names and addresses, then stop by Home Depot to buy some power tools.

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?
You know, this is a good question. I didn't take one on my first film because I thought a filmmaker should have a recognizable body of work before they take the possessive credit. However, on Fuck I did take one and it certainly wasn't because so many people now recognize The Big Empty as a stunning masterwork. I took it because I felt Fuck really was a film by me – not just in its content – but due to the fact that I wore so many hats during the production and editing. I produced it, directed it, did the interviews, edited the film and did almost everything in between. I had some great help mind you, from some great people, but there wasn't many of us – not anywhere near what you'd expect. So I think those six months of 17 hour days in the editing room influenced my decision. My next film, who knows.

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?
Do you like to fuck? If you do, you'll like our movie.

In fact, bring a date and I promise you'll get lucky. If not with your date, I'll keep a few Executive Producers standing by for you. And sometimes Kevin Smith likes to get in on the action too.


Fuck, starring Alanis Morissette, Drew Carey, Sam Donaldson, Alan Keyes, Chuck D, Pat Boone, Bill Maher, Steven Bochco, Hunter S. Thompson, Ice-T, Janeane Garofalo, Billy Connolly, Kevin Smith, and Ron Jeremy, will premiere at the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival. Click here for festival information, and be sure to check out the official Fuck website.

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originally posted: 02/21/06 15:25:16
last updated: 02/21/06 15:26:03
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