Wednesday, 18 June 2008

EIFF Q&A: Alex Orr - by Robert Duffin

Alex Orr, Director of EIFF Under The Radar entry Blood Car talks to Robert Duffin about the cult film in the making that's about to take audiences for a ride like no other.

Robert: What were the difficulties of getting the money together, selling the film etc for a project that was always going to be a 'cult film'?

Alex: Getting the money together for the film wasn't hard at all because we really didn't have any. I had about $5,000 of my own and me and a couple friends set off to make it, when we started gathering cast and crew and people started reading the script, they would say, "this is funny, let me help you out." We got most of our money from little investors that were friends and family and even our crew. It must be one of the few instances that a crew helped finance a film. As far as the term "cult" went, I don't think it ever entered my mind. We thought the film would be funny and we went to make it in a way that would set us apart from other films, in tone and style and lack of class. We didn't have a budget for a spectacle, so we made up for it by going in directions that other films wouldn't dare.

R: What did you think of the Grindhouse debacle last year, were they simply aiming too big with something so niche in a wide market? When you aim for something to become cult, are you being to self conscious?

A: Sure those films were a debacle financially but sis you see them? They were a good time! I don't think Death Proof is the kind of movie that plays in a double feature like that- it starts with that grindhouse feel, but it is not trashy enough and there's too much 'hanging out' , but on its own, I love that film. I'm glad they did what they set out to do, instead of trying to making something for everyone, I think that is the cult appeal, if you're trying to make something for everyone, you're really not making anything for anyone. They made two $50 million movies that they thought would make money, and they didn't- but big deal- most movies don't make money. I don't think you can consciously set out to make a 'cult classic' you just make a movie with a particular tone to your particular taste and sometimes it clicks with a group of people and sticks with them.

R: With a fuel crisis hitting the U.K. as we speak, where did the story idea originate, and what was the script to screen process like?

A: The story idea originated from horrible gas prices in the U.S. years ago that have just gotten worse. I co-wrote the film with my good friend, Adam Pinney and we were just pitching around ideas and someone said a car that runs on blood. We stopped and thought, I would like to see that. So we started outlining right away and furiously wrote the script. Since we were going to make the film out of pocket, the script to screen was happening right as we put things on the page. We didn't write things that were out of what we could do, no huge special effects or CG or any of that. We kept the size of the film manageable and just tried to live up to the title. If you see a film called Blood Car and you expect something pretty crazy, or I do anyway. If i hear of a title like that I want a film that doesn't have to worry about people being offended or how a test audience will take it, it just has to live up to its own standards.

R: How did you get the cast together? Where the hell did the inspired idea to cast Anna Chlumsky (My Girl) come from?!

A: The cast are all friends and people I had worked with before. The lead in the film, Mike Brune didn't even have a choice of whether he could do it or not- that's the great thing about having friends- when you set out on that first feature, they have to be there everyday, like helping you move. When we told him we wrote the film for him, he wasn't very excitied, but it grew on him when he knew he couldn't get out of it. As for Anna Chlumsky, I was the gaffer on a little feature the year before and met her on that, we got along great and we sent her the script and she liked it so that was that.

R: What were the big challenges of achieving the special effects on a small budget?

A: We chopped a guy up in the trunk of the car and went through 50 or 60 gallons of blood on that shot alone. That was tough figuring it out, but I knew some horror guys that love any chance to make up a bunch of blood and sling it and shoot it and squirt it everywhere. To be honest the biggest challenge was getting all the blood out of the car we used for the blood car, which was my car. And we pretty much destroyed it during the production. I would drive it to and from set every morning and the windows would be splattered with blood, but I didn't want to clean it then because it might botch continuity, so my neighbors would give me some really great stares when we would cross paths on the way to work.

R: Who were your influences, visually and story wise, in the making of the film?

A: Sam Fuller was a big influence on the story, I love how he takes his plots right from the headlines. Roger Corman's A Bucket of Blood was a huge influence too. Not to mention Little Shop of Horrors and a ton of things I'm probably not even conscious of. Visually we borrowed from everywhere, Oliver Stone, Scorsese, Rebel Without a Cause, Kubrick, early Peter Jackson, Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas, Takashi Miike, Rashomon, The Godfather, Woody Allen, Psycho. You start looking at where to put the camera on a scene and you just go back to those great films, or films that weren't great but had something that just stuck with you.

R: Is there still 'true' cult cinema out there in between the endless sequels and cookie cutter horrors?

A: Hell yeah there are! They just aren't being on every screen in the country, they are on video and at film festivals with programming as good as EIFF. If you want movies that are different you just have to look for them, because they are out there waiting for you to discover them and help people see them.

Blood Car screens Thurs 19th June, 22:30, Filmhouse. Tickets available at the box office or at

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