What inspired you to begin work on this film?
I was watching a very sensitive, sweet film about growing up as an outsider. It had cruelty in it but in the end was hopeful about humanity and who we are. And while watching, I felt that my experience of life is a lot less kind. I thought it would be interesting to make something with the opposite point of view, more nihilistic.
I also have a friend of a friend whose kid loves vampires, drew vampires all the time, and the kids at public school were teasing and bullying him over it. Which I connected to emotionally from my own childhood. So that was the next big piece, to use that.
Please describe your working method and the atmosphere on set.
It was a chaotic set. It always felt a little out of control because of the very small crew size and my shooting style of using very "live" locations and a faraway camera. We also pushed the crew very hard, and probably stepped on a lot of toes. We just really wanted to make a good film and hope we weren’t horrible to work with. Because we do care about that.
Please share a few words about your actors.
Eric (Milo) is one of the biggest reasons we are here. Many of our locations were "live” and Eric was a kid, 15 and this is his first leading role. A film that was a big influence on this one was Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. And that whole film hangs entirely on Michael Rooker’s performance. Eric had to pull off the same accomplishment as Rooker did - but Eric was 15 and we were in such difficult shooting circumstances, environments and pressures but he was always very focused and performing perfectly in character.
What are your views on the state of the film industry in the United States?
Indie films don't have to just be directors auditioning to make big blockbusters. Like I wasn't aiming for the center with this film. And I think that's what independent film is supposed to do. Like Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis or Maps to the Stars, or my friend Aza's films (Terri, Momma’s Man), or Lanthimos' (Dogtooth, The Lobster) stuff.
What sources of artistic inspiration have you drawn from in your work?
I am influenced very much by the new neo-realists like Aza Jacobs or Kelly Reichardt or the Safdie brothers, or Ramin Bahrani. And god do I love Lars von trier. I think I may idolize that guy. And Gaspar Noe is great. But obviously I also love low budget horror and exploitation movies.
Can you tell us about your next project?
I come into this festival with no commitments. Even though this is my first film, I am not young, so I arrive with a lot ideas and scripts that the attention from the festival may hopefully help bring to fruition. I have a slasher film. A ghost film. A possession film. A murder mystery. I even have a musical.