Your new movie Coyote -
in a few words, what is it about?
is a headtrip into the mind of an increasingly violent sociopath as he
loses touch with reality. Weíre exposed to his paranoia, delusions,
and hallucinations. Itís up to the viewer to put the pieces of the
puzzle together and understand what is ďrealĒ and what is a mental
What were your inspirations when writing Coyote?
And since the film's written entirely from a psychopath's point of view,
to what extent can you identify with your character Bill?
way too many to list, but according to the internetz, the film reminds
people of Lynch and Cronenberg, both of which are huge inspirations for
me. Iíve had the Lynch comparisons for a while. Thereís
been a reluctance for me to acknowledge that and be labeled a Lynch-clone,
but there are many worse labels for filmmakers out there. Eraserhead
changed my life. I love Lynch. William
S Burroughsí stream of consciousness writing was a pretty good influence
on the script... Thereís some Kafka in there too. Iíd love to
give you more literary references, but honestly, I hardly ever read
narrative approach is of the non-linear, associative nature - during
writing as well as filming, did you ever have the feeling you might just lose
your story in the sometimes bizarre things going on?
has a story?
think when writing something intentionally open to interpretation you
loosen your grip with the finer details. You have a logline that you
follow with the script, and you donít stray from that too much...
When youíre on a no-budget and some element becomes impossible or
thereís an opportunity to do something new and better than
whatís in the script, itís great to exploit those moments to the best
of your ability without the guilt of wondering if an audience will ďget
itĒ or if it strengthens the story arc.
weíre in the realm of dream logic, which at its surface seems to
make sense, but several contradictory elements can serve to confuse or
irritate those with plot OCD that need the puzzle to complete itself.
Itís more about character and experience than the stuff that happens.
a big believer Bertold Brechtís Verfremdungseffekt and how it
applies to film (which is essentially the opposite of verisimilitude, or
the willing suspension of disbelief). I feel by ripping people out
of the narrative in various ways (including non-linear storytelling) and
thrusting them back in results in a viewing experience that lasts much
longer in the memories of the viewer.
does get rather violent at times - so do talk about these scenes for a
bit, their narrative necessity, and was there any line you refused to cross
(for other than budgetary reasons)?
is necessary for a narrative really? Itís all kind of gratuitous
if you think about it.
can say that, personally, Iíve always had an attraction to violence,
death, sex, and human emotion. I think a lot of people have these
same interests. We have this reptilian brain that tells us to kill
and fuck, but a logical brain that says there are repercussion for doing
so. When we were homo erectus, maybe we acted on whatever instincts
we had, and now that weíre domesticated, weíre sort of deprived of
these experiences. Maybe thatís why we seek out violent or
prurient materials; to live vicariously through fictional characters and
not feel guilt about their actions.
for lines or boundaries, nothing was off-limits with violence, although we
were dramatically limited by budget. I wouldíve killed a lot more
people with more money.
for other boundaries, thatís a little more interesting, and a constant
topic of discussion between myself, Bill Oberst jr [Bill
Oberst jr interview - click here], and Carrie (my wife and
producing partner). I drew the line at scat myself. Oberst was
talking to me about a film he agreed to do at the time where his character
painted in feces, which kind of revolted me, but now I think I was just
being short-sighted. Iím open to scat now.
Oberst, I tried pushing him to his breaking point throughout the whole
set... and he does things in Coyote
that Iíve never seen a professional
actor do on screen. I asked him if heíd amputate his arm for a
role. His response? If we can reattach it later, Iíd do it.
What can you tell us
about your overall directorial approach to your subject at hand?
the case of Coyote, like many DIYs, you donít have the chance to do
weeks of rehearsals before you shoot, and there are so many distractions
that I feel I did a pretty piss-poor job of directing on set. Iím
still young, still learning the give and take of a set where you have to
fill many behind the scenes roles, and direct on the fly. I kept
things simple, used levels of intensity, referenced animals, and focused
more on Oberst and how heíd respond to the natural inclinations of the
thereís a huge perk to writing/directing/producing in that you can break
a fundamental rule of writing and write direction into your script.
Analogies and metaphors not only make your script more colorful and easy
to read, but give actors insight into your mind and creative processes.
If there was no time for us to have a conversation about the scene, the
actor had subtle hints to drive his or her instincts. You canít
overload your script with that shit, but itís helpful when used
what I know, you have written Coyote
with Bill Oberst jr [Bill Oberst jr interview - click
here] in mind from
the get-go - so why him, how did you get him, and what was your
never heard of him before he sent me an email. He hadnít worked
with the Asylum yet, but had a masterful demo reel. Three of them
actuallyÖ one was a horror one, another was dramatic, and a third one
with stage stuff. I saw him as a complete package, and wanted to
exploit all of his strengths in a script crafted with him in mind.
Heís since branded himself almost strictly as a horror guy, which is
good for business, but I hope he transcends the genre because heís
really great at everythingÖ a true character actor.
dude couldnít be more of a professional. He lowered himself to our
standards and didnít skip a beat. In fact, he raised us to the
pinnacle of trash. Iíve never seen remotely this much publicity or
interest in anything Iíve ever done.
remember Oberst out in my back yard digging out a grave that Iíd dug
weeks earlier because it was too small for our coffin to fit. The
dude is a trooper, and collaborated in every way during production, post
production, and PR for the film. He was instantly everyoneís best
What can you tell us about the rest
of your cast, and why exactly these people?
and Victoria Mullen both turned in pretty outstanding video auditions for me.
I cast Finkbiner partially for his size in relation to Oberst.
Oberst is so ripped, I needed a bodybuilder to look big in comparison.
Heís a super-dedicated guy. I loved having him on set.
Itís kind of remarkable that she hasnít pushed through to higher
profile shoots. She was in Ape and some other films at the
low-budget level, but the road is a lot tougher for womenÖ or so Iíve
read. She was a blast, and our roommate for a couple of weeks.
rest of the castÖ Is there a rest of the cast? Some of the actors
Iíve worked with before, and theyíre reliable, funny, and/or
charismatic enough for me to bring them back over and over. Others
were experiments found on local casting sites and Mandy.com.
about the shoot as such for a bit!
It was really hot.
Iíve blacked out everything else.
A few words about
critical and audience reception so far?
Iím surprised by
every positive review. Itís been overwhelmingly positive. I
donít know what to say. I thought I was making a film for everyone
to hate. I thought the clamoring by horror fans to see something
unique and different werenít looking for something like this, but
apparently people actually enjoy watching it.
projects you'd like to share?
There are a ton of them though. You can track me down if it
What got you into
filmmaking to begin with, and did you receive any formal training on the
been doing SOV stuff since I was about 5 years old. The first thing
I did of any interest was called Live or Die which I shot on my parentsí
VHS camcorder. I donít know why I picked up the camera, but
whatever reinforcement I got for what I made mustíve made a strong
graduated with a bachelorís degree in film production. Now, I
sound like a fraud with all of my DIY filmmaking bullshit... Four
years of college didnít teach me half of what I learned on one DIY film
What can you tell us about your filmwork prior
of my recognized works are usually surreal shorts and character driven,
but I canít recall any of them being horror films. In fact, I
didnít think Coyote was a horror film until post-production arguments
with Oberst. He was right. I try to think of the world without
mutilation and bathtub death scenes abound everywhere! Everything
with exception to Coyote
has been released for free on the intertron
would you describe yourself as a director?
hear the word young a lot. I take that to mean inexperienced but with
potential. It couldnít mean that Iím hip or ďinĒ because
somebody would have heard of me.
who inspire you?
man, you want a list? Iíll
go with Ronny Carlsson who makes surreal DIY films like me. I can
pick his brain on why he makes the choice he does and that means more to
me than any non-interactive film.
Your favourite movies?
Iíll give you a listÖ Top ten (ish) in no particular order:
Last House on the LeftÖ or A Nightmare on Elm Street (I canít decide)
Evil Dead/Evil Dead 2
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Ummm. I donít care much for Uwe Bollís films. I
did like Rampage though, so thereís always an exception. MaybeÖ
Disney TV movies? Iím grasping here.
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
that I can think of. Thanks for the interview!