Susan Montford (Director - 'While She Was Out')
'Lil' Red - All Grown Up!'
How far will you go to survive?
Most people never have to answer that question. But one suburban housewife will know all too well that self-preservation has no boundaries.
'While She Was Out,' the new thriller starring Oscar® winner Kim Basinger (L.A. Confidential, 8 Mile) and Emmy® nominee Lukas Haas (Witness, “Entourage”) is out on DVD now. Executive produced by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth), produced by Don Murphy (Transformers, Natural Born Killers) and written/directed by Susan Montford (Shoot ‘Em Up), the film is incredible.
Basinger delivers a riveting performance as Della, a suburban housewife caught in a nightmare of violence as she is mercilessly stalked by a group of malicious thugs. Armed with only a toolbox and the will to survive, Della is engaged in a fight for her life and has to make it through the night or never see her children again. Haas plays the manipulative psychopath leading the gang on their murderous rampage.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with writer/director Susan Montford and I first asked her at what age she had been when she first got the writing bug - and what was the first screenplay she ever wrote? "I’VE LOVED WRITING SINCE I WAS OLD ENOUGH TO LIFT A PENCIL AND HAVE BEEN WRITING ESSAYS, SHORT STORIES AND SCREENPLAYS EVER SINCE. THE FIRST SCREENPLAY I EVER WROTE WAS FOR A SHORT CALLED “HAIRPIN”. THE FIRST FULL LENGTH SCREENPLAY I WROTE WAS CALLED “TWENTY-FOUR AND TWICE DIVORCED”."
Knowing that you were also the producer of the absolutely brilliant 'Shoot 'Em Up,' what do you think made such a violent, raw, and yet at times simply slapstick film so engrossing to the legions that went to the theatre to see it? "“SHOOT ‘EM UP” BECAME A TOTAL CULT MOVIE ONCE IT HIT CABLE AND DVD. I THINK PEOPLE REALLY RESPOND TO THE UP-FRONT ABSURDIST TONE OF THE MOVIE. IT’S JUST FULL OF LAUGH OUT LOUD HOLY SHIT ACTION SEQUENCES AND YET WE HAVE SERIOUS DRAMATIC ACTORS LIKE CLIVE OWEN AND PAUL GIAMMATI PERFORMING THE ACTION WHICH JUST ADDS TO THE LOVEABLE LUDICROUSNESS OF THE PIECE."
For the Average Joe who picks your latest film up 'While She Was Out' to take home and watch, please describe in just 5 words the viewing experience they are in for! "HOUSWIFE KILLS THUGS IN SELF-DEFENCE!"
As a writer in general, when you write screenplays and one (such as 'Shoot 'Em Up') gets a theatrical run and yet one like your very own 'While She Was Out' goes straight to DVD, does that make you question the business you are in; the decisions being made that are out of your hands re: distribution, limited run engagements, overall belief in your work by the Studio Heads? "“WHILE SHE WAS OUT” WAS RELEASED THEATRICALLY IN THE US AND IT ALSO HAD A THEATRICAL RELEASE IN JAPAN, FRANCE AND GERMANY. IN FACT IT”S STILL PLAYING AT SOME VENUES IN CHICAGO IN THE US. I SHOT THE FILM WITHOUT HAVING A DOMESTIC RELEASE IN PLACE SO WE HAD TO FINISH THE FILM AND THEN FIND ONE. WHEN YOU MAKE ANY INDEPENDENT FILM IT’S A BIT OF A CRAPSHOT AS TO WHETHER YOU’LL FIND DOMESTIC OR NOT UNLESS IT’S ALREADY SECURED. I’M VERY PLEASED WE MANAGED TO GET THEATRICAL WITH SO MANY INDEPENDENT THEATRICAL DISTRIBUTORS HAVING DISAPPEARED FROM THE BUSINESS IN THE LAST EIGHTEEN MONTHS."
In 'While She Was Out,' the lovely Kim Basinger truly comes to the fore as the courageous Little Red Riding Hood character, but was this always meant to be (loosely) based on such a Fairy Tale? I mean, the set up and the actual cover art all suggest so? "YES IT WAS. IT HAS THIS WHOLE DELIBERATE FAIRY TALE SENSE OF THE PROTAGONIST GOING INTO THE FOREST TO OVERCOME VARIOUS ORDEALS AND FIND RESOURCEFULLNESS AND STRENGTH SHE NEVER KNEW SHE HAD."
Kim seemed to do most all of her running-thru-the-woods stuff, so did she hurt herself at any stage of the filming? Indeed, did anyone hurt themselves in the making of this film? "EVERYONE WHO WORKED ON THE FILM WAS PUSHED TO THEIR PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL EDGE. IT WAS VERY TOUGH FOR THE BOYS AS THEY HAD TO ENDURE ALL SORTS OF PROSTHETICS AND FIGHT IMPLEMENTS AS WELL AS THE EXTREME CONDITIONS OF THE WEATHER AND THE LOCATIONS. KIM DID ALMOST ALL HER OWN STUNTS. SHE’S INCREDIBLY FIT AND ACTUALLY SEEMED TO GET STRONGER THE MORE SHE ENDURED LIKE THE CHARACTER DELLA SHE PLAYS."
And those woods that she found herself, and those half-built homes, were they really outdoor scenes or huge soundstage sets; complete with sprinklers, etc.? "EVERYTHING WAS ON LOCATION - LIKE IT IS IN THE FILM. WE SHOT OUTDOORS, ALL NIGHTS IN THE DEPTH OF WINTER IN VANCOUVER. IT WAS FREEZING COLD WITH CONSTANT RAINSTORMS AND THE SETS WERE EVEN MORE TREACHEROUS THAN THEY LOOK!"
Do you believe this is one of a new breed of films that will begin to encourage women to stand up for themselves like Della in similar situations of unwarranted brutality and violence? "I WOULD LIKE TO THINK SO."
The ending, not to give it away here, but it leaves you able to make your own mind up, but was there a time when you had a gun click in there ... just to see how it played out, perhaps? "NO … I ALWAYS WANTED TO LEAVE IT AMBIGUOUS SO THE AUDIENCE CAN DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES ON WHAT THEY THINK SHOULD HAPPEN NEXT."
How does one go about garnering the talents of the great Guillermo del Toro as producer?! "GUILLERMO WAS INVOLVED WAY BACK – EVEN BEFORE 'PAN’S LABYRINTH.' DON MURPHY, HE AND I HAD BEEN GOING TO START A COMPANY CALLED ANGRY BULLS AND “WHILE SHE WAS OUT” WAS GOING TO BE PART OF IT BUT THEN GUILLERMO JUST HAS SO MUCH ON WITH THE “HOBBIT” BUT HE REMAINED INVOLVED IN “WHILE SHE WAS OUT”."
"HE’S A DEAR FRIEND AND A BEAUTIFUL PERSON AS WELL AS BEING A FORCE OF NATURE IN THE FILM INDUSTRY. YOU’VE PROBABLY READ THIS IN OTHER INTERVIEWS BUT I KID YOU NOT THE MAN WATCHED ALL OF MY DAILIES WHILE FILMING 'HELLBOY 2' AND FROM A QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE OF BULGARIA. HE WAS ALSO A VERY GENTLE GUIDE TO ME DURING POST WHEN I NEEDED HIM MOST."
So, what's next for you? We've heard word that your company (Angry Films) is helping produce such films as of 'Faces Of Death,' 'Deadman,' and even another Del Toro encounter with 'At The Mountains’ of Madness,' but have you already written another screenplay and are awaiting a studio to give you the green light to direct? And if so, please give us an exclusive here in one-way or another by revealing something about that upcoming project! Perhaps something like 'The 'Family Jam'?! "I’M WORKING ON A HORROR VERSION OF GROUNDHOG'S DAY. IT’S BEING PRODUCED BY DON MURPHY AND CARY GRANAT."
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine love Penguins ... do you?! "EVEN PENGUINS CAN BE SCARY WHEN THEY SCREECH AT A VERY HIGH PITCH AS THEY STEP OUT OF A LOVECRAFT NOVEL ... ALBINO WITH EYES COVERED IN MEMBRANES AND LOOMING EIGHTEEN FEET TALL …!"
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
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