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September 2012

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director's chair H By IAIN BLAIR Todd Solondz: Dark Horse OLLYWOOD — Indie director Todd Solondz first burst on the scene with Welcome to the Dollhouse, his acclaimed 1995 film about a relentlessly bul- lied, shy 7th grade girl, which won the Sun- dance Grand Jury Prize. Since then, the New Jersey-born Solondz has amassed a body of work that is distinctive and idiosyncratic, and which has unflinchingly explored even darker subject matter — including murder, suicide, rape, child molesta- tion and abortion — in such films as Happi- ness (nominated for a Golden Globe), Story- telling, Palindromes and Life During Wartime. His latest film, the ironically-titled Dark This indie film was shot and posted in New York. Horse, tells the story of Abe (Jordan Gelber), a deluded, overweight, loser man-child in his thirties still living with his parents (Mia Farrow, Christopher Walken), who romances Miranda (Selma Blair), a depressed young woman who also lives at home. Here, in an exclusive Post interview, Solondz talks about making the film, his love of post, and the financial pressures of indie filmmaking. POST: How would you describe this film, and what sort of film did you set out to make? SOLONDZ: "I set out to make a boy- meets-girl story, and it seems I ended with an alternative take on the whole arrested devel- opment genre that Judd Apatow made famous with The 40 Year Old Virgin and other Dark Horse was edited by Kevin Messman on Final Cut; he would get dailies and then get to work. stops owning a collection to find that it owns oneself. So it's that sort of pathology that develops at that point, and what interested me most was the way he clings to all the hopes and dreams of his youth. He lives a kind of death in life. "I think that obsession with that irretriev- ability of youth is very much a phenomenon in all secular, prosperous, consumerist democra- cies, where grown men have collections like Abe's and are very worshipful of things. You seldom see this phenomenon in women. So his drug addiction is toy collecting and in some sense it staves of a sense of mortality, I suppose. Maybe in women it's all the cosmetic work." POST: Abe drives this huge yellow Hummer. Todd Solondz: "I far prefer post to shooting...some directors relish that process — I just try to survive it." films of that sort. It's really about a character who isn't typically good looking and who's got a lot of issues, and it's a challenge to make the audience care about him." POST: It plays like a comedy but it isn't, is it? SOLONDZ: "No, I'd call it a very sad com- edy — maybe my saddest ever. Each time I think I've made my saddest one yet, then I always surprise myself. I'm moved by it and Abe, and that's what I hope to achieve." 16 Post • September 2012 How symbolic was that? SOLONDZ: "It obviously relates to his inner image of himself, and on another level, it's another big toy in his collection. It just seemed like the perfect car for him to drive." POST: Where did you shoot and how long was it? SOLONDZ: "We shot in New York because of the great tax breaks, and we found locations that could certainly pass for New Jersey, where it's set. The shoot was just five weeks since we were on a pretty tight with this new digital technology it poses a dif- ferent set of challenges. Ultimately, it's not so much whether you use film or go digital — it's about whether your DP has an artistic sense that matches what you're trying to do, and Andrij did. I'm very happy with the way the film looks and the color palette and design." POST: So are you a big digital fan? SOLONDZ: "Yes, but in terms of shoot- ing this, the fact is, I just don't have the option. (Laughs) I'm hardly in the league of a Chris Nolan budget-wise where I can insist on shooting film. I think most film- makers still prefer film, but most don't have the option anymore." POST: Where did you do the post? How long was the process? SOLONDZ: "We did all the editing and post at Goldcrest in New York, working over five or six months." POST: Do you like the post process? SOLONDZ: "I do, a lot. For a start, the food's much better than during production (laughs). I far prefer post to shooting because I have a personality that's not well-suited to production and all the stress. Some directors relish that process — I just try to survive it. So once I get to the edit and post, I feel most at POST: What were some of the key themes you wanted to explore through your main char- acter, Abe? SOLONDZ: "He collects all these toys and is into videogames, and his bedroom's deco- rated like he's still in junior high school. He's an emblem of that phenomenon, where one budget and schedule." POST: This was your first time working with DP Andrij Parekh, whose credits include Blue Valentine and Cold Souls. What did he bring to the mix? SOLONDZ: "He was great and very inven- tive. We shot on the Red, and when you work

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