|Raindance interview: Brian McGuire (Prevertere, 9 Full Moons and Carlos Spills the Beans)|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Sunday, 29 September 2013 19:36|
"I'm a creative idiot. That's my deal."
That's Brian McGuire, director of Prevertere, which had its European premiere on Friday at the Raindance Film Festival. He's also the director of Carlos Spills the Beans, which had its European premiere at Raindance tonight. And he appears in 9 Full Moons, which had its European premiere yesterday.
That's a lot of films for one man, not to mention his credits in projects ranging from In Search of a Midnight Kiss to The Thompsons. And his work as techno DJ. And his own label, LeftHouse Recordings, which he uses to make the soundtracks for his films.
The multi-talented creative idiot talks to me about perverts, taking over London's indie film festival and, erm, naked men on roller skates.
It's the Latin origin word for "pervert".
And that answers the first question…
It's crazy, because I stumbled across that definition: I only found it once. I was trying to show my partner but it took me ages to find that page again, so I don't really know if it's true or not! But it sounds cool. It makes you think of the word pervert. It puts you in that ball park somewhere.
So you never planned to just call the movie "pervert" then?
No... Prevertere sounds more European! It sounds fancier. It's not a bad title, but maybe for a different movie. This one is more about a mental perversion than, say perversion. That's maybe to allure people in a bit. Perversion's a pretty intriguing topic for most people.
You start your film with an unfinished quote. 'The answer to true love is…' How would you end that sentence?
I... er... ooooo, um, errrrr... I…. yeah! There is no answer to that, but I've probably pompously given it to other people! That's where the idea of the movie came from, the idea of true love. You know, I've seen your shit, you've seen my shit and we're still holding hands and going forward. That, for me, is true love on some level and I wanted to make a movie about that, you know. The lady I was seeing at the time, we were together for six years and she helped me to get to that point and a lot of the movie comes from a time before she existed for me and based on shit I was - I would never say it's a true movie, but there's so much truth in the damned movie.
There's that painting at the end of the film, with the naked man and woman literally looking at each other's shit...
Yeah, that's it! The painting, before we shot, was such an important piece to me.
Is it a pre-existing piece? Did you find it before filming?
Our art director painted it. It was written into the script and he wanted me and my lady at the time to pose for the painting and I was like "Fuck, no!"
So how much of your relationship is in the movie?
My girlfriend and I broke up before we even had funding for the film - so that completely changed my outlook for the film. Before that point, I was all about Templeton, all about how he thought and felt but then once that happened, all of a sudden, I was more interested in where the girls were coming from. At the same time as I'm dissecting the film and working out how to make it, I'm dealing with this break-up. It was all then about the women and what they had to say and I think that's what makes the movie as strong as it is because all three of those performances are really stand out.
Were they originally that strong or did you then re-write the characters?
No, it's pretty much verbatim. Anna McIntosh - she's incredible as a creative, not just as an actor - she brought to attention several female points of view about that scene, about how Irene and Templeton are together. One of my favourite things was she read it and came back and was like "She's in love with him!" and I was like "Yeah, I know". But I never told her, I wanted to find it on her own. But of course, they do love each other. I feel like that happens to me as an actor sometimes: the most obvious thing you can't always see because you're trying to figure out so many things. But she's so damned smart, she gave me a lot, even for some of the other stories, she helped shape it in the last few weeks before shooting.
Did you always have her in mind?
I met Pollyanna on In Search for a Midnight Kiss. She was our PR woman for that and I didn't even know she was an actor! She was just this cool, 6ft 2' chick who was beautiful. But Bret Roberts, who's my producer on my films, and Scoot McNairy, who was the lead in that (and now Argo and everything), it turned out they knew her - I thought we just met her, but they were like "No, she's been around" and I was like "Oh, cool!" And so she pops up in Carlos Spills the Beans and while I was writing Prevertere, I had her in mind the whole time.
How did you cast the other two?
We found the other two. Rose Rossi I knew a bit and she came to me with our art director - who plays Helmet, the tall, blonde Scandinavian one. And then Antonello Ponziana… Bret did a short with her and came over to my house after and said "I've got the woman for the first part!" and he went into recreating the scene he shot with her. It was this hysterical thing - and I cast her off Bret's audition of her! I hadn't even seen a picture of her and I was like "She sounds perfect." Then I met her and she started talking about her past and she was in Fellini's Intervista when she was 21 and won the Italian Oscar at 27!
You definitely want that woman in your movie.
She kept trying to show me her Italian Oscar movie with no subtitles! I watched half of the movie with her telling me the whole thing and I was like "This woman is perfect." She's just a crazy firecracker.
And what about Terry Wayne as Templeton?
I'll go back to the beginning. My first film was On Holiday. That takes place in one apartment and there's a cast of 49 people who move through three years and six parties. The guy for the third largest lead had dropped out and we had cast everybody else. I had only met Terry once and so we called him in. He was so scary and intimidating! I would give him a direction to walk into the bathroom and he would walk into the kitchen. Everything I told him to he did the opposite. Every time, I was like "It's great. You SHOULD have gone in the kitchen!" He was my favourite actor in the film.
So in my second film, The Black Bell - I like to call Prevertere the mature version of that - Terry played the lead and he was this nerd who was hooked on this girl that everyone's had relations with and he's hanging on for dear life. I originally didn't want him to play Templeton. I had this nerdy musician in mind but he was too scared, so Terry was begging me for it. Ultimately. he was the right guy. The way he can get into people's heads is the way James Dean could get into people's heads. I see so many actors try to do that and they ruin the moment or piss the other person off. I've seen him make people cry and have them thank him at the end of it, you know? He's a really quiet, intimidating fellow and I love how much he cares for the work.
You've mentioned Bret Roberts already. He's clearly having a whale of a time as Italian singer Bobby Dino...
He asked me if he could sing and I said sure, but then I was like "You're just going to sing every single line!" He loved the idea. He used to host this night in L.A., I started to hang out with him after it ended, but everywhere we went people were asking when he was going to do Hip-Hop Bingo. It was this evening where they dressed in themed characters and he was singing lounge songs - it sounds like this epic time that i just completely missed out on, you know? But he's very charismatic. Back in the day, he didn't leave a bar without putting on some crazy show!
And he even plays the sax in the party scene.
A funny thing about that scene - the cops were on their way because we weren't supposed to be there, so that musical number was all done in one take from different angles! The fact that it cut together and works is a miracle.
Wait, the cops? What were you doing?
Well… our art director did some work on this house and it was being shown by a realtor. He was pissed, finding there were all these guys with shirts off and fake cocaine everywhere… But Bret knew the actress who was looking at the house! So that kind of saved the moment and gave us the time to confuse the realtor, who didn't know what to do! After a while, he called the cops. I didn't know we were in their illegally until that moment… That's the beauty of making indie films! The magic! I'm glad I didn't know. I would've been paranoid the whole time. I'm that guy.
Did you get away with it?
Yeah, we left before they arrived.
You've worked with Bret a lot. What's that relationship like?
We've been friends for about 10 years and he's produced all five of my films and acted in them. We played music together - we were in a band called Gene Wilder
That's a great name for a band.
Yeah! I sang and played guitar and at one point produced beats. Then it turned into a 12-man band with a guy playing washboard and I was like the worst one, playing my little weirdo songs. But then I got sick doing that sort of drunken, unrehearsed sloppiness and started working on Haxsaw & Dugin. We've been making music for the movies under that name. I've had a record label - LeftHouse Recordings - since 2005. I'm a creative idiot. That's my deal.
Creative is right. You're in the excellent 9 Full Moons too...
I'm in it as an actor and Bret is in it as the lead. It's a lot of the same crew - Robert Murphy who shot In Search of a Midnight Kiss also did 9 Full Moons and Carlos. On 9 Full Moons, his first assistant is Marcello Altiere, who shot Prevertere. But basically, I was trying to finish Carlos and Bret raped me of my whole crew! They wanted me to be in the film and I was like "I don't have time! I'm trying to finish this!" But then everybody's working on this damned movie except for me... I was like "You have the part for me, right?"
Carlos. 9 Full Moons. Prevertere. Was it always the plan to take over Raindance Film Festival? It looks planned.
It just sort of magically happened. Film festivals are interesting monsters, political as they are - that's good and bad. Once you finally get in and show a film and they like it, it makes it easier for them to see your film. That's true of everything, I believe. I'll take it when I can get it! I feel like the audiences I've had here have been much better received than the audiences I've had in the States.
Why do you think that is?
I don't know! My first film was called On Holiday (which also screened at Raindance). That's a British term… Maybe Brits just party more than Americans do? Even Prevertere is about partying, in a way! On Holiday is just wall to wall drugs, men sliding stairs with helmets on… When I was coming out of that Raindance screening, a girl came up to me and was like "I used to slide down stairs with a helmet on too! This is AMAZING." I love that, when people can relate to a movie. That's the goal. Especially with Prevertere. I always say all the films up to Carlos, I feel like I'm walking down the sidewalk and I come to this glass window and it's like one of those displays and I'm like "Oh, that's cool". But there's a wall. With Prevertere, especially with the break-up, I wanted to break that wall and break that glass. I think I did with Prevertere - but I think I can go farther. I think my next film, WiNdOw LiCkEr, will.
It's emotional. It's about a guy who goes insane with a form of insanity no other human has ever had to face. I play the part. My character is addicted to this video game, he's addicted to a reality show, he's addicted to a cam girl site, so the guy's insane, right? But these are the things we're addicted to. These are the things we do. There's a loneliness, there's a desperation. It's also the first time I've ever had a score in my films. My brother, Emmet McGuire, I got to listen to Taxi Driver and study Herrmann's stuff and now I think I'm going to use a lot of scores in my films. I was totally against it for a while, but something about orchestral stuff just really helps, with images it can just move things, you know?
Why were you against music so much?
I just looked at it as cheesy a little bit. It scared me, that's what it was. I don't think I was ready to go down that road yet. It's cool. I'm excited. I have plans to do a noir-ish film too and I think it'll be fun to play with the music in that.
Do you see a difference between your work now and then?
With WindowLicker, I was way more in control of the camera. For On Holiday, I did the sound mix and everything. I feel like the more I can know about every angle of this job, the more I don't wonder "How does this get done?" and hopefully I can gauge and help things to speed up. I'm a technical weirdo! Growing up in Texas, it was a really weird creative town…
I remember a night I was sitting in a coffee shop with Robert Murphy and another filmmaker and we're sitting with this drunk lawyer who's buying us coffees and all of a sudden a naked guy comes in on roller skates and rolls up to the counter and orders a coffee! And then he rolls out. And we're thinking "What the fuck is that?" There was also this homeless guy I saw twice a week and he would paint these amazing landscapes and he would take pictures of ladies from porno magazines and stick them onto his landscapes. This is the kind of world I was seeing at all times…
Cut to two or three years later, I'm hanging out with [In Search of a Midnight Kiss director] Alex Holdridge and he's telling me about this time he went out naked roller skating and I was like "That was you?! I was there!" It was destiny, you know. That was the kind of weirdo creative people around: I was forced into that style of creativity. In L.A., it took me a while to find people to work with, with that kind of creative mentality.
Judging by the number of films Brian's involved with at Raindance Film Festival this year, it looks like this creative idiot found them.
Prevertere is showing on Monday 30th September at 4pm. It's fantastic. Read our review here.