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Interview With Adam Rifkin Director Of Director's Cut
By James Whittington, Monday 29th August 2016
One of the best from this year's FrightFest is Adam Rifkin's meta-movie chiller Director's Cut. This smart, funny, dark and very satisfying movie was written and stars Penn Jillette proving that this guy knows what horror movie lovers enjoy and in the hands of Adam Rifkin it pure gold. Here Adam chats about this superb movie. (Adam RIfkin - Photo Credit Jim Newberry)
HC: How did the project for Director's Cut come together?
AR: Penn Jillette had actually started writing the script about 10 years ago but it wasn't until he saw a film I made called Look that he decided to put Director's Cut on the front burner. Look is a drama that is all shot from surveillance footage and Penn appreciated the fact that I never broke away from the promise I made to the audience, that every shot remain true to the concept. We had never met before but he contacted me on Facebook. We actually spoke that night and he emailed me the script and asked that I consider directing it. I read it immediately and by 3am we decided to work together on it. Because it's such a bizarro film we knew raising money would be difficult so it was Penn who first suggested we try crowdfunding.
HC: The movie has been labelled as meta-horror but I feel it goes beyond that, how would you categorise Director's Cut?
AR: Director's Cut is an actual crowdfunded movie about a fictitious crowdfunded movie in which one of the film's fictitious crowdfunders kidnaps the actual star of the movie-within-the- movie so that he can make his own amateur third movie out of stolen footage from the second movie along with additional amateur footage he shoots himself, which ultimately creates a forth movie which is the movie-within-the-movie-within-the-movie-within-the-movie that we call Director's Cut. And if you think that's confusing, try directing the damn thing. Thanks Penn! I guess you could say itís the cinematic equivalent of the Droste effect, which is the visual sensation of infinity one gets when standing between two mirrors. Or the image of a man holding a painting of a man holding a painting of a man holding a painting, ad infinitum. Even though the whole twisted mess seems like a puzzle within a riddle that leaped into an abyss, it actually makes prefect sense when watching it. I swear!
HC: Was this the first time you used this process?
AR: Yes, I had never crowdfunded a film before. I loved it. The hardest part of getting any movie made it finding the money. Appealing directly to the fans and basically selling the film to them in advance was a fun and exciting way to get a movie made.
HC: Does crowdfunding help give you more creative freedom?
AR: Without a doubt. Everyone who was involved in contributing money was completely on board with what we were doing. They signed on because they believed in Penn, in me and in this crazy project. It was very liberating creatively.
HC: Was it a tough shoot and is it difficult getting people to act as exaggerated versions of themselves?
AR: Every shoot is a tough shoot. That said, it was harder on Missi than anyone else. She had to play a character in a movie, an actress playing a character in a movie and an actress acting for her life in a completely separate movie within the movie. It was a real psychological puzzle for her but she did a fantastic job. I canít imagine another actress being able to pull it off.
HC: Do you like acting?
AR: I don't consider myself an actor, I'm a director wh'íll ham it up on camera occasionally. That said, it's true what they say... the actors have all the fun.
Q: Teller's commentary seems so natural did he improvise any of it at all?
AR: No, Teller's speech was written and he performed it verbatim, take after take, to perfection. I know most people have never heard him talk but he's a fantastic actor.
HC: Will there be a director's commentary on the DVD of Director's Cut?
AR: Absolutely! The whole movie is narrated by Penn's character's director's commentary so we thought having a real director's commentary over the fictitious commentary was just too good to pass up. The levels of descending ďmetaĒ continue!
HC: Do you still get nervous when you show your movies at festivals?
AR: Every time. Showing my work to an audience is a very nerve wracking and humbling experience. It always makes me feel very exposed. It's hard to make a movie and it always takes a really long time. I'm always hopeful that an audience will like it. And I don't care what any other filmmaker says, it hurts when they don't.
HC: So, what are you up to at the moment?
AR: The reason I'm not able to travel to FrightFest is because I'm currently working on a new film called Dog Years. It's heavy drama about an old man who used to be a very famous movie star but now has found himself on hard times. It stars Burt Reynolds in the performance of his career. We just finished shooting in Knoxville Tennessee and are knee deep in editing. It also stars Chevy Chase, Ariel Winter, Clark Duke, Ellar Coltrane and Nikki Blonski.
HC: Adam Rifkin, thank you very much.
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