Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Alan White Assembles Pieces in "Broken"

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Alan White Assembles Pieces in "Broken"

(from brinkzine 10/4/07)

  • picture Alan White
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  • picture Heather Graham
Even before I saw “Broken,” a gritty, bravely acted indie about a couple’s addiction to bad drugs and bad love, I contacted the publicists to see if I could interview the heavenly Heather Graham and retire.  Nope. But I could interview the director, which was kind of like agreeing to take your dream date’s brother to the prom instead.  But some brothers are pretty cool and it turned out that I greatly enjoyed talking movies with the very personable transplanted Australian director, Alan White. By that time I’d seen the White’s third movie and wanted to know more about him.  And I hoped that he could help me dissect his intriguing film with an extremely perplexing, nonlinear structure that opens this weekend.  Perhaps he also could explain the ending of “Syriana.”

Danny Peary: In “Broken” and “The Erskineville Kings,” there are characters who can
be called “lost souls.”  Since you’ve said your films are personal, did you relate to them?
Alan White: Very much so.  For whatever reason I’ve always felt a little bit outside the fish bowl.  I went to boarding school for much of my childhood and was a city boy from Sydney surrounded by country boys.  Then I’d go back home to beach and try to adjust, having been to this military boarding school. So circumstances dictated that I’d always be outside the norm socially.
DP: Did you go to film school in Sydney?
AW: I attended Macquarie University, which houses the Australian Film and Television School, but I didn’t go there and got an undergraduate degree in English and History. A couple of friends in the bands I was in went to the film school and shot music videos there.  That was my first exposure to filmmaking and I first saw there was the job of director.  I thought that was pretty cool.  But I still didn’t go into film. I did a post-grad degree in Education. I saw myself as a writer and thought teaching would give me time to write stories.  When I stepped into the classroom, however, I realized that wasn’t where I wanted to be. My way out of university, I did a lot of freelance writing.  I won a Rock Australia award for a review I did of a band.  That put me on a freelance-journalist track and I wrote for various magazines. 
DP: How did you go from there to directing commercials and music videos?
AW: I got a graduate scholarship to an advertising agency and I ended up writing television commercials for a couple of years. I had written a commercial for Levis in Australia, and they told me who was going to direct it.  It was really a bad fit for my script, so, I hope not too precociously, I ended up putting in my two cents worth, saying I think it should be this and it should be that.  This had happened a number of times when a producer at the production company shooting the commercial finally said, “I’m never going to get you to shut up, but I am willing to take you on as a director, if you want me to train you.”  And I thought that was a great opportunity.  I didn’t seek it,; it fell from out of the sky. So I began directing commercials.  And since I played in bands, I wanted to do music videos, too.
DP: Did you have ambitions in music?
AW: I definitely had ambitions, though my parents didn’t want me to stay in music.  The last band I was in had a record that did reasonably well in Australia.  But doing reasonably well there meant you’re probably making only $200 a week.  It just came to a point where the day job won out.  It was a conservative life choice in a sense. 
DP? When you made your commercials and music videos, were you thinking they were a stepping stone to a movie career?
AW: I didn’t think I’d make only commercials for the rest of my career. I always wanted to make a film and go into a theater and see something I made twenty-five feet high.  I started out directing the commercials and music videos at the age of twenty-five, so I got a relatively early start. Through that I got on a film set and fell in love with film.  At the same time, in my commercials, I was writing stories, and exercising my eye and responding to how things should look in a fashion sense.  I was learning that in cinema instead of speaking English, you speak in pictures. So you’re learning to tell stories in images.  I tried to impose a narrative on all my music videos.  Sometimes I’d win that battle with the band and the record company, and sometimes I wouldn’t.  It was an attempt to explore narrative film as much as I could. A lot of the music videos I did, I shot and edited myself.  Really low-budget stuff, but that was my film school.  So I got to exercise my eye and edit as well. 
DP: What were the wildly popular “Homer Hudson” commercials you did?
AW: They were commercials I shot with John Curran, who years later directed “The Painted Veil.”  At the time, John was a copywriter at an advertising agency and I was a director looking for great scripts.  Homer Hudson is an ice cream in Australia.  John was given the opportunity to brand a boutique ice cream and he came up with this great idea of “Homer Hudson” as a character.  It led to interesting moments.  We made up the fact that “Homer Hudson” came from Hoboken, New Jersey, so we came over here and shot a whole lot of stuff about Homer Hudson’s life and times.  The “Homer Hudson campaign” was notorious because it was on Super 8 and it was shot subjectively.  I was Homer Hudson walking around and John was on my back with his hands out, and his hands were Homer Hudson’s. It was pretty funny.  We collaborated for a few years as director and writer. 
DP: When did you move to California?
AW: It was in the mid-nineties.  Advertising is a global industry and for commercials they pull in people from all over the world.  I had just started making some TV commercials in the States for America television, and the production house that I was working for asked me if I’d be interesting in moving there.  So I live in Malibu, and have continued to make commercials there while pursuing my film career here and in Australia.  
DP: How did you get your first film, “The Erskineville Kings,” made?
AW: Marty Dennis, who wrote and stars in it, went to acting school with Hugh Jackman, as did 90% of the cast.  All of those guys were finding it difficult to break into the mainstream film and television world in Australia.  In the same way I was finding it somewhat difficult to break into the arts bureaucracy that runs the Australian film industry. Part of the reason I was finding it difficult to get film scripts I had written made through the Australian Film Commission, was because I was a commercials director.  
If I’d gone to film school it would have been a faster track for sure.  So we got together  to make the film.  We called in lots and lots of favors, and I used the camera and the crew from a Nike commercial I was doing.  We made the film in twenty days. 
“Risk” came on the heels of “The Erskineville Kings.”  It was more of a mainstream Australian movie.  A noir that was a Film Finance Corporation-funded film. Basically, I had to pay my dues.  I was making commercials but had to make films to get noticed.  I was a gun for hire.  “Erskineville Kings” and now “Broken” are more personal to me, but “Risk” was about a young guy starting work in the corporate world, and I had done that.  I’d left university and was naïve about the functions of the corporate world.  As a writer, I showed up in my suit and called everyone “Ma’am” and “Sir” my first day.  Tom Long played “me.”  In Australia he’d be considered a mainstream movie star, as would the other leads, Bryan Brown and Claudia Karvan. 
DP: So you did two films back to back in 1999 and 2000, so why has it taken so long to make your third film, “Broken?”
AW: I was doing commercials and rock videos and had two children—my daughter is now 6 and my son is 3.   But I absolutely wanted to continue making movies.  I wrote a project over a number of years called “American Woman,” that ultimately went into turn-around, which was a frustrating experience.  I wanted to make it for Icon, Mel Gibson’s company in LA.  Unfortunately it just fell through.  There was a movie that came out in Australia that was somewhat like it, “Garage Days,” and that didn’t help.  That’s the story of a New York rock journalist who goes to Australia to discover the next “big thing.”  My movie was about was an Australian band finding a really neat way to gain notoriety.  Otherwise, I spent time looking for the right thing to come along that would connect with me.
DP: I am surprised you didn’t write the films you made because I would think all three are very close to you.
AW: They are.  It’s the film business, really.  The films I’ve written I haven’t been able to finance.  I’d love to make a movie that I’ve written but there’s a certain objectivity you get as a director working with a writer.  It keeps you from being too close to the material and immediately there are two of you seeing it in different ways and trying to come up with what’s best.  It’s almost as if the projects that have come to me have sought me out.  I’m just incapable of loving a script that doesn’t speak to me personally.  What that has meant in some regard is making pretty uncompromising films.  There’s a part of me that wants everyone to like my films, but I realize that the films that I like aren’t going to appeal to everybody.  So there’s a real dichotomy.  I make TV commercials that are very mainstream and then I make these very personal films. 
DP: Did you know the writer of “Broken?”
AW: Yes, I knew Drew Pillsbury, who is an actor but also writes scripts.  He had the “100 Mile Rule” produced starring Maria Bello. I met him through a mutual Australian friend in L.A. I’d read a number of his scripts.  Drew had seen “The Erskineville Kings” and rang me up and asked if I’d read his script for “Broken.”  I read it and called him back and told him I loved it, that it spoke to me.  He introduced me to the producer Jerry Wayne and Jerry liked where I wanted to take the film.
DP: Why did the film speak to you on a personal level?
AW: It’s a tale of addiction.
DP: Were you an addict?
AW: In the past. I don’t drink anymore—I’m now the only Australian who doesn’t drink --but I’ve been on my journey.  The story really spoke to me because it is about a woman, Hope, dealing with rejection by trying to lose herself in something else, be it drugs or her dark side.  People who go through what she does constantly try to fill a hole that is growing inside them, but what they need to do instead is believe in themselves and  accept where they are at that point in time.  But those things don’t speak only to me.  One of the reasons we got such a great cast with Heather Graham, Jeremy Sisto and the others is that the script speaks to anyone who has gone to L.A. seeking fame or fortune, or seeking to have their talent affirmed by getting a film project; or getting their CD out, or getting some stamp of approval that tells them their talent is worth something.  They know it doesn’t always work out that way.
DP: Here’s a quote of yours about “Broken”: “The film has a message: Find out who you are and be happy with who you are no matter what society says that is, no matter if you are a dishwasher or a waitress in a diner.” 
AW: Thomas, the dishwasher at the diner played by Michael Goorjian, says to Hope, “I didn’t think I’d be standing here wearing a fucking hairnet, but I am.  What am I going to do, kill myself?” 
DP: To name drop, Jerry Seinfeld told me that the message in his upcoming animated film, “The Bee Movie,” is that everyone who does their job well—and he mentioned excellent waiters and tax drivers to illustrate his point--matters.  And that’s exactly what you are saying.
AW: There’s so much pressure in Western society to be something that you’re not.  You constantly aspire to be something you’ll never be, and you ruthlessly try to achieve it.   The roadway is just strewn with accidents because everyone can’t be that.
DP: How does Hope--who after failing to make it in the music business takes a loser for a lover and lets him turn her into heroin addict--fit into this?
AW: Most creative people, no matter how nice they are, are selfish because in the end they want it be about themselves and their talent. But that said, what Hope is learning, in a strange way, is to walk a mile in another person’s shoes, and to achieve a measure of self-awareness so she can accept who she is and be content with being a waitress in a diner if that’s her lot in life.  Because there are a lot of people out there doing just that and doing, as Seinfeld points out, a great job.  If she realizes she’s a great waitress and matters, then she can find peace.
DP: In regard to the title of the movie, is Hope “broken” before she meets Will after failing to find her record deal, or is she broken after her awful relationship with Will?
AW: Both. She starts out open to new experiences and seeking an affirmation of her talent.  When she doesn’t find that, she loses herself and is effectively broken by that.  Then despite her “hope,” she falls for the wrong guy and is broken by her “will,” ultimately.  Only if Will is extinguished can her “hope” return and can she move forward, metaphorically at least. 
DP: Is Hope a good person?  We root for her because she’s the lead character and Heather Graham is a likeable actress, but she doesn’t ever do anything spectacular for anyone until the end.
AW: No, she doesn’t, and that’s interesting. Is she good person?  I think her instincts are good, but there’s definitely a naivety to Hope, as there is with many creative people.  That’s way the creative world is littered with dead bodies.  She’s self-centered to the point where she can’t see beyond her own immediate pain from failure and she has a big hole in her and wants to fill it up with bad stuff.  She’s got to get out of that in order to be a better person for her own sake.
DP: Until she kicks out Will, and even afterward when she works in the all-night diner, Hope never says No to anybody and continues to be conned herself, despite recognizing when other women are being conned.
AW: We hope she will find peace with herself ultimately, because along the way there has been a part of her that has fought for her integrity and talent and said, “I’m going to make it.” But as you say, she succumbs to temptations.  It’s not until she’s sitting on the beach with Thomas and saying that she doesn’t want to go back to where she’s been with Will and her addiction that we finally recognize that can she move on.
DP: When Will tries to pick up Hope on that beach early in the movie, is he conning her?  Is he thinking, “I hope she falls for my line” or “She’s such a beautiful girl that I can’t resist approaching her?”
AW: To me, he’s trying to entrap her.  He sees a pretty, innocent girl on the beach and his motives are bad.  He’s a parasite who will suck the blood from you until he lets you go.  He has no intention of working to support her while she tries to succeed in music; he just says to her, “I’ll be your muse.”
DP: He’s not 100% evil, though you can’t tell that in the first scene on the beach.  You don’t want her to accept his advances, but just when he’s leaving she asks him for coffee.  Is she drawn to his bad-boy quality?
AW: She’s very definitely, at that point in her life, drawn to him knowing he has a dark side.  But anyone who would agree to put a needle in her arm would be reckless and have a lack of hope.  She’s thinking, “I’m going to give myself up to this experience even though I know there will be consequences.  I know I shouldn’t do it, but I’m still going to do it.”  She fights with that.  That’s Hope’s struggle.  Her will seems to be saying, “Come tempt me, give me the apple.” 
DP: And Hope is someone who would bite the apple.
AW: Absolutely.  That’s the story of an addict.  Even though it’s wrong, you want to try it.  You give into your dark side.
DP: I guess it’s not like “Candy,” another sad addiction-love story film because Heath Ledger plays a nice guy in that.
AW: Will is not a nice guy.  He’s extremely selfish. And Hope is more naïve than Abbie Cornish’s character. 
DP: Do you relate to Will at all, maybe because of the addiction?
AW: No, I don’t.  There’s always been a naivete in me so I’d relate to her more than Will.  The only part I relate to in Will is his lovesickness. The way Will was written, Jeremy could have played him as very dismissive and very hard.  But the great thing that came out of rehearsal is that “Broken” is most of all a love story and he wants his girl back after she kicks him out.  “I kind of don’t know what I’m doing as I wave this gun around the crowded diner, but I want my girl back.” 
DP: Talk about the scene where the girl on ecstasy, Sara, played by Jessica Stroup, takes Hope into the hallway to talk and get away from the two sleazeballs who have drugged her for sex.  The girl tries to kiss her.  It looks like Hope won’t go along with that temptation, but once again, she does and they have a heated make-out scene.
AW: Yes, Hope succumbs. Buried within all of those tables in the diner are representations of the seven deadly sins, if you want to see that.
DP: Where’s the Gluttony?
AW: There’s no obvious Gluttony but there is extreme hedonism, and it’s there partly through the girl on ecstasy.  The Lust is their kissing.
DP: That’s the one really erotic moment in the movie and also it’s both them of getting away temporarily from the world where men sexually exploit women.

AW: Exactly.  I wanted the earlier sex scenes between Hope and Will to be raw, because in so many ways he was “screwing” her.  He was destroying her life.  It was right that the only representation of erotic love or lust in the movie is between Hope and that beautiful girl.  They find comfort in each other.  This young girl is with two guys who drugged her and God knows what they’re planning on doing to her later.  She is feeling worthless but Hope, who sees herself in her, tells her not to feel that way.  It is a feminist moment in a sense.  Hope does see herself in all the women in the diner; their bond is that they’ve all been screwed by men in all ways.
DP:  What was your reaction when you read the script and came to the scene in the diner where the producer, who obviously is hoping to get her into bed, and the director try to get Hope to agree to be in a film called “Broken,” which tells her story with Will?
AW: The most bizarre thing is that it wasn’t until about my tenth reading did I realize the director’s name is Alan Gray, which is pretty close to my Alan White.  In some ways, from a story perspective, I’ve met a lot of guys like that sleazy producer and the director he’s with who just wants to get a movie made.  The director is probably thinking, what more can this guy say and how much more crass can he be before I stick up my hand because he’s just making me feel dirty. 
DP: I don’t want to use the word “confusing,” but at that point of an already complex film, the story starts spiraling in on itself.
AW: We start getting clues that all is not what it seems. By the end we ask: The events of that night—are they real or fictitious?  That’s the challenge to making this film.  You’re basically applying a literal narrative to a nonlinear story.  Then you’re seeding in clues that are saying this or that might not be real or might represent something else entirely.  For instance are the characters in the diner real people or are they representations of something like, as I said, the seven deadly sins, Hope’s temptations?  As filmmakers, we’re taking viewers on a journey where on a cerebral level they might be working out the jigsaw puzzle, but on an emotional level they are relating to two people in love who are destroying themselves, and to this guy, Will, who is willing to terrorize other people in order to get her back. They try to flip it all on its end when the movie is over and ask, “Well, was Will real and was their relationship real? Or was he a metaphor for Hope’s dark side?  Did he exist in her head as a dream, or was it a flashback?”  So it’s challenging.
DP: Is Michael an angel, or at least Hope’s protective guardian angel?
AW: He is a fallen angel, absolutely!  He’s someone who has been “there” and come back.  He’s her angel trying to show her the right way.  Yet he does exist in the real world, too.
DP: But Michael he doesn’t appear in the scene where Will holds the diners and workers at bay.  So is it possible that he doesn’t exist except when he’s alone with Hope?
AW: That’s exactly right.  On a literal level, you can say he ran off and got the cops to come to the diner, but maybe not.  Nobody has asked me before where Thomas was during that scene.  It’s funny what people respond to or accept. 
DP: Do you, in your mind, know all the answers to the questions viewers might want to ask?
AW: I do know all them.
DP: I can ask for the answers because you’re right here, but I don’t think I want to.  I don’t think you are upset if the viewer doesn’t figure it all out.  I’m not sure if you’re a fan of David Lynch, but the film reminds me of “Mulholland Drive” in that at the end it goes off into wild territory and as a viewer you give up on solving the puzzle, and either accept what you’re seeing or get mad it’s over your head.
AW: I am a fan of David Lynch.  I’ll watch him and I won’t pretend to be able to explain everything that happens in his films, but I can tell you how I felt watching them.  The same with “Memento.” I didn’t get it all but I loved being on that ride that challenged you and made you a participant in the film.  It’s better than when it just washes over you.
DP: So if someone watches “Broken” ten times, will they eventually start to figure it out or is their first viewing just as valid?
AW: I think their first view is just as valid, though you’ll pick up things with more viewings. 
DP: When you and the actors would talk, were you all worrying about losing the audience, or were you saying, “Let’s just make the movie?”
AW: Jeremy got heavily involved in the cut and said to me, “Follow your bliss.”  In the original script, all of Will’s journey was backwards, and I felt it was too hard to keep track of what was going on. What I toyed with was placing it into a linear structure.  But it didn’t end up being that interesting when I did that.  So we tried so many different ways structurally to cut this story.  Hope shot up, we went inside her head and flashed back to a whole sequence of events—and we were in her dream world so things might or might not be real—and then we came out of that at the end after she has her confrontation with Will in the diner bathroom, and she has OD’d.  Then we tried any number of different endings. It’s a fine line you tread. I was thinking that 50% of the broad audience wouldn’t necessarily want to see a film like this. But this is an art-house film and I didn’t want to toss that audience out of the film. What you don’t want is that viewers are so confused that they are completely taken out of the film.  I want that audience to be provoked into thinking a bit about the film. 
DP: Talk about casting Heather Graham as Hope.  “Broken” is perhaps the first film she’s been in that is totally dependent on her.
AW: Heather was really interested in playing someone who wasn’t Heather Graham, although I think there are parts of her in Hope and that she relates in some ways to Hope’s journey.   She wanted to take on a role that could demonstrate her acting ability.  She has such a healthy view of Hollywood and the way things sit, but I think she wants to be challenged as an actress.  She thinks it’s an important film for her. 
DP: How creative could she be in this considering if any actor gets away from the script, the movie might get even more confusing?
AW: That’s very true because in some ways, you’re guiding your actors through it and they have a lot of questions.  But just creating their arcs within the story required a very strong collaboration between the actors and the director.  That’s how it became more of a love story where the two need each other equally than a story about a bad guy taking advantage of a girl.  Heather has that naive, open quality and that’s what Hope needed to have. If the actress were more cynical or world-weary, I don’t think it would have worked for us.  We wouldn’t have believed Hope would stay with Will—she’d get up and leave.
DP: That’s Heather singing, right?
AW: Yes, she sang the song to Will and sings it again with a band during the end credits.  She wanted to sing and learned to play the guitar for that.  She wanted to give it a go.  Her demeanor was very open, and she was a very hard-working.  She’s a very open and trusting as an actress.  She wants to be directed and will ask a million questions.  What was good is that when she’d do a good take but I’d tell her to do it again and this time think of Will or to engage another character more with her eyes, she’d know exactly why I was asking her to do that. 
DP: When you talked to Heather about Hope was there some point where she knew more about her than you the male director or the male screenwriter knew?
AW: When we were filming the sequence where Will has his gun and takes everyone in the diner hostage, I was saying, “Heather, I don’t want you to be too passive here.  You already said no to this guy, so now I feel you have to open up a bit more and be proactive.”  She said, “I know why you want that, but as a female I’m seeing a big guy with a gun and I’m not going to be that way.  I’m going to try to work out a way to outsmart him and get him away from the others.”  In a sense, Heather went as far as she could in that scene and you can see the struggle in her. That was definitely an interesting path she took, because as a male I wasn’t completely clued into the female psyche’s approach to these things.  With other scenes, a lot of it really was in the writing.   There was a scene we improvised during the shooting of the film. It’s breakfast time.  Will’s eating cereal and Hope’s going “I don’t want to live like this anymore.”  I think there was a lot of Heather in that.  But Drew’s script had lead to her to that. 
DP: One thing Heather may have really related to is the beauty element.  Heather is beautiful and so much of what happens to Hope is because people find her beautiful.  In fact, everyone takes advantage of her because they want to exploit such a beautiful woman.
AW: Yes!  There is part of Heather that is above thinking of herself or letting anyone else relate to her in regard to her looks.  But whereas Hope may understand people want to take advantage of her because she’s beautiful, Heather understands that’s what happens in this business.  She’s very quick and very on it.  That’s why her cynicism is so clear in the scene in the diner where the sleazy producer sees how beautiful she is and immediately says he wants her in the movie.  He tells Hope that “there might be some nudity in this film, would you have a problem with that?” She replies, “Do I look like someone who would have a problem with that?” That great reply is part “I know exactly what you’re talking about” and part “maybe I’m open to it and maybe I’m not but I’m not going to just give myself to you.”  Like many people in her predicament, Hope’s desperate enough to see where the next step takes her.
DP: There’s a loss and emptiness in your movie, as in your past movies, but the female character is named Hope.  Is this in some way an optimistic movie?
AW:  If there’s a thread between my three movies, particularly “Broken” and “Risk,” it’s that there are naïve characters who are “deflowered,” one by the corporate world and one by the music business while trying to make it in L.A. “Broken” is dark, but I feel it’s optimistic because it’s not impossible for Hope to move forward. 
DP: When you watch Hope in this movie, as the director you should feel detached, but do you ever feel her pain? Did you hate having to hurt her?
AW: With Hope I feel incredibly paternal and protective.  And all the way through the editing process, almost every decision was based on that.  You want to get her involved with life, keep her apart from Will, keep her alive.  It’s funny but at the end of each day we’d do a pickup scene and inevitably I’d have to ask Heather to cry.  I’d say, “I hate to do this to you, but you’re going to sit in the car and weep.”  I wanted the audience to see Hope’s pain but I also knew that if we were able to make viewers experience an emotional connection, that’s a nugget of gold.  To feel that in any shape or form is to me successful filmmaking.  It could be a down moment or an up moment, but I like movies with heart. 
DP: What was Heather’s demeanor during the making of the movie?
AW: Behind the scenes everyone had so much fun.  They played footage of us at the rap party and everyone was joking and having a great time.  But we shot day for night so all the exterior of the diner was tinted and when the camera was on the diner itself was a “death zone,” where everything was so intense. We shot the film in only eighteen days so there was a tremendous amount of pressure on everybody and there was the most on Heather who was in almost every scene.  It was tough making a little indie film where she didn’t get any star treatment at all.  What makes her such a good actress is that when she gets into a role she can really, really focus on it. 
DP: Talk about casting Jeremy Sisto.
AW: I’ve always admired his work. I wanted a great actor who wouldn’t be a cliché bad boy.  Jeremy has layers to him and really thinks about his work.  I wanted to work with someone who’d both challenge me and challenge Heather.  I think that was good for the movie.  Honestly, when he’d walk into that diner, you’d feel the room sort of twinge! 
DP: Did you audition either of the two leads?
AW: No, it was just “if you want to do it, we want you.”  Then we sat down and talked.  In Australia, it doesn’t matter who you are, you’ll audition for a part.  But it’s a different system in America.  The casting directors Scot Boland and Victoria Burrows found actors like Mark Sheppard, who plays the sleazy record agent, and Jessica Stroup, who plays the girl on ecstasy, who are super talented people who haven’t had the opportunities they deserve.  Mark just happened to be the drummer for the Barracudas, an English punk band I loved. Ironically a lot of musicians ended up in the cast and I knew Mark and the others would play their parts in a non-stereotypical fashion.  Mark said, “I know this guy.”  It was a terrific cast. We spent a lot of time in there together.  Whether you’re Linda Hamilton or Tess Harper or a lesser-known actor, you sat in the diner for two weeks while we shot other shots, because everyone could be seen all the time.  There was a lot of camaraderie on the set.  It wasn’t intentional but it did build this thing of “We all want to do good work.” 
DP: What about Linda Hamilton playing a high-powered Madam?
AW: We offered her the role and she said she’d be there. I didn’t actually meet her until she was in the make-up trailer the day of shooting, and we talked about what we were going to do.  She said, “Whatever you want, darling, I’ll do it.”  Then we go on the set and I kid you not, on the first take she does a five-minute scene and BANG she nailed it, and everyone started clapping. 
DP:  Music is close to you, so talk about your choice of having Hope play the guitar for Will in a scene on the rooftop, yet you’re having the Brian Jonestown Massacre play on the soundtrack.
AW: That scene’s about as up as the film gets.  They were making their own music video and are happy.  It was like a movie within a movie so I worried about parodying myself.  I cut it with and without music and with different tracks.  The song I used by the Brian Jonestown Massacre captured the raw emotion I wanted. The band centered on Anton Newcombe, who was a destructive personality and such a perfectionist that he was famous for stopping his shows after one song if things didn’t sound right.  He’s an absolute musical genius and because he’d been an addict his lyrics reflected what our characters were going through. So 90% of the songs in the film came from them.
DP: What’s on the horizon for you?
AW: I have a heist movie called “Days Like This” that I’m very interested in making.  It’s about two gangs robbing the same bank at the same time. I’m still very keen to make “American Woman” because it’s very personal.  I did write it and the story would take me back to Australia.
DP: I know you’re doing a lot of promotion for “Broken,” but what about your leading lady?
AW: Yes. Heather was just on a national show.  She was talking about tantric sex.  That will get us some publicity! 

1 comment:

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