Trevor Anderson’s short films that have played at both AFI FEST and AFI DALLAS the past two years, ROCK POCKETS and CARPET DIEM were clever applications of Anderson’s wit and animated musing. As droll and smart as those films are, they now stand as a warm up for his latest short, THE ISLAND. There are few things better than liking someone’s work and then seeing it leap forward. And that’s what happens here. Anderson takes a disturbing homophobic hate e-mail (suggesting that he and all the other gay men be sent to an island where they should give each other AIDS) as an inspiration to create something so unexpected and so telling as to his wonderful nature that it obliterates any relevance the thought or the writer behind it ever might have clung to. His “idea”, mind boggling as it may seem is to agree with the e-mail and then – before you have a chance to condemn him as insane, to whimsically turn the entire idea on its pointy little hate-filled head.
Was the e-mail that inspired THE ISLAND a rarity or was it the one in a series that “broke the camel’s back”?
Thankfully, it was unique. I live in a pretty loving bubble, so to receive that kind of hate mail was like waking up and finding part of an ancient cold war satellite on my lawn.
Describe the process of pairing the live action you with the animated “fantasy” island?
I went to a place in Northern Alberta called Cold Lake with my Director of Photography and a Steadicam Operator. We just shot me six ways to Sunday walking across the ice, then came back to the city and looked at the footage with the animators, discussed, the editor put together a skeleton, and we jazzed it all in from there. Watching the film now, I forget the experience of trudging, bundled, across that frozen lake in what was actually (surprise!) hot sun. (P.S. It was spring and the lake was starting to melt… couple of dodgy moments with the Steadicam rig!)
I can’t imagine that your approach (however darkly humorous you might describe it) to look at the “bright side” of an island where all the gay men would be sent to give each other AIDS would ever be expected or even “appreciated” by anyone in the gay community. So, what has the reaction been like so far?
So far, so good! Luckily us fags, like most people, like to laugh.
Of all the jobs they could be trained for – gorilla masseurs?
Well, monkey butlers was taken.
Honestly, will you feel a little empty inside if next year rolls around and you don’t have a film at AFI FEST or AFI DALLAS?
What will happen in the feature-length sequel to THE ISLAND?
Global warming. But don’t worry. The lesbians will save us.
THE ISLAND screens as part of SHORTS PROGRAM ONE Friday, March 27 at 9:00PM @ Magnolia 3 and Saturday, March 28 at 12:00PM @ Magnolia 3.
There are horror films that take your breath away with scares and surprises that come at you from out of the dark and then there are the films within the genre that can make you gasp with shocking images and displays of gore. Paul Solet’s GRACE is the rare and artful film within the horror arena that works on the viewer’s sense of foreboding and impossible dread. Horror works best when it can tap into the primal – and there is nothing more primal than the urge to reproduce. And it is that desire to have a child that drives the horror of this film. Yes, there are scares and yes, there will be blood – but that’s so much window dressing to what really drives this thing: a woman that wants a baby. A woman that wants to have that baby so badly that, after a tragic accident and against all physical and natural laws, when it arrives stillborn, she wills her infant girl to life. And we all know deep inside that when you reject the natural order of things, there more than likely will be hell to pay – literally. And that is genuinely frightening.
1. GRACE began as a short before it became a feature film. But what was originally the genesis of the idea?
When I was about nineteen my mom told me I had had a twin that died before birth. That was the personal genesis of the story. The subject matter just became intensely compelling to me on a very intimate level. The idea itself, though, came during a conversation where someone told me it’s real medical science that if you lose your unborn child, sometimes, if labor isn’t induced, you’ll actually carry that child to term. To me, even as a man, the idea of carrying your own dead child to term was such a potent kernel of horror, the script came quite naturally.
2. Describe how Adam Green (HATCHET) was instrumental in getting GRACE (the feature version) made?
Producer Adam Green has been a selfless champion of this project since he read the script. He saw the short at a Fangoria convention in 2006. He’s a very busy guy but he liked it enough that when some mutual friends from the website Icons of Fright told him he should read the feature length version of it, he agreed. He loved it, and reached out to. I met with him and his partners at Ariescope, Will and Cory, and we all hit it off extremely well. Adam and his Ariescope posse began a year long mission to find the right home for the film. In the end, Anchor Bay proved to be the perfect place for the film. Adam had had such a great experience with them with HATCHET and SPIRAL that they were already family. Adam has been a guardian angel to me and this film since our first meetings, all through production, and post and now into GRACE’s birth at festivals from Sundance to SXSW and now to AFI DALLAS.
3. What is the best thing about having your film at AFI DALLAS?
AFI DALLAS has an outstanding reputation as both a film lovers’ festival and a place where the spirit of independent filmmaking is treasured and celebrated. That’s the kind of environment that feels like home to me, and to a film like GRACE. It was precisely that kind of independent spirit that enabled us to thrive even under the constraints we had, and to be able to
participate in a festival that gets that is an absolute joy.
4. Eli Roth (CABIN FEVER, HOSTEL) was your camp counselor when you were younger. How old were you at the time and did you hear the best campfire stories ever?
I was about eleven when I met Eli. He did better than campfire stories, he actually directed all the campers in a short movie called SUSHI where we take over the camp and murder all the counselors. The kids fed the staff poison ivy and shot them with those plastic bows, and then finally, he had one of the weirder kids, who was always telling these bizarre jokes that didn’t make any sense, kill everyone by a barrage of bad humor that caused us all to seizure and hemorrhage blood out of our ears. He used the RE-ANIMATOR soundtrack, too, another stroke of genius. He was an awesome counselor, as were his two brothers, and has been a really generous mentor and friend to me.
5. You actually had some meetings with people regarding GRACE early on in the process and described that experience as similar to the film THE PLAYER. What was the worst idea someone suggested to you as they gave you their notes?
When I first got to LA about four years ago, I had just written the GRACE feature. People started reading it and liked it. I got some offers to purchase the script, but no one was prepared to take a risk on letting me direct because I hadn’t done a feature before. One of the guys I met with brought in the director he wanted to attach and the guy started pitching me some pretty asinine ideas. I knew I was walking when he pitched me “The car drives off the road, right? And right through the middle of a devil worshipping ceremony! Naked girls everywhere…” He was also a winker, which creeped me out. Just so classically sketchy.
6. A genre-friendly website named you Mr. Febru-scary at some point. Did you have to do a photo spread or do a calendar or something because of that?
Yes, it’s true. I didn’t have to do any shirtless pictures or anything. But Adam Green had been the Mr. Scary a previous month that year, and I think he actually did some beefcake pics for them. And my other friend, Chris Garetano, a filmmaker from NY, won for another month. I’m tempted to start a rumor that he did full frontal nudity, but he might like that too much. So at the end of the year, we were all in competition for Scary Stud of the Year. I don’t think any of us won, though. There would have been copious ballbreaking had only one of us been a Scary Stud, but as it is, we’ve got nothing on each other. It’s actually a cool little site called Pretty Scary, run by women genre geeks. Some genuinely good reporting. Not just shirtless (Adam) Green pics.
7. Seriously, kids in your future?
Absolutely. I love kids.
8. If you couldn’t make films, what would be your second career choice?
The only things I feel even close to as passionate about as I do film, are animals and bicycles. I used to train dogs, and that really is a pretty amazing job, so I could do that. I also used to love working as a bike messenger back east. I’m still riding around on track bikes in traffic every chance I get, so it wouldn’t take much convincing to get me to start letting someone pay me for it again. But the reality is, even if I couldn’t have a career making movies, I’d still be making them every chance I got.
9. What was the last film that genuinely scared the crap out of you?
It’s not a horror film, but Kathryn Bigelow’s THE HURT LOCKER rocked me. She knocked that film out of the park.
10. Popcorn or candy?
If I’m really limited to those two choices, I’m going popcorn, but I’m all
about ice cream during my theater going experience. Even if I have to sneak in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.
Did someone get to keep the old-school breast milk pump from the film or are you holding on to it for the Fangoria Hall of Fame?
Are you kidding me?! There’s no way I would ever let anyone have that pump. That thing is on my living room table. I made GRACE so I could put that on my living room table. Although, I have a suspicion it’s the reason I’m still single.
GRACE screens Friday, March 27 at 11:59PM @ Magnolia 3 and Saturday, March 28 at 10:30PM @ NorthPark 7.
Paul Solet will attend both screenings and will participate in a Q&A afterwards.