Sunday, March 30, 2008
A Southerner Looks to the North: Part Three
Green [right] in an undated photograph
A Chat with David Gordon Green: On the Production (click here for part two)
I'm inspired less by specific movies and books than
I am by sitting on a porch listening to somebody.
-- Green to the New York Times (2004)
Was Snow Angels [the novel] autobiographical in any way?
I assume it is, to some degree. More of it, I think, was just his [Stewart
O'Nan's] curiosity and investigation of headlines-district headlines-and
then he tried to humanize them, and I'm sure he brought a lot of an autobiographical perspective, especially within the younger character.
Do you mean that there was an incident like that when he was growing up?
Just things he was affected by at various points in his life, and then I tried
to do the same thing. When I was in the fifth grade, a girl in my town went
missing for two years, and she was around my age, and I remember there
was this real surreal quality about the whole thing where you kind of felt
like you knew her, because her face was on flyers all over the place.
Halifax in the snow
Was she found?
It sounds like Undertow was a really arduous shoot, in terms of
the location, the bugs [hordes of chiggers], etc. I'm wondering if
this was an easier shoot? It was a totally different environment.
No, it was not easier. It was, like, 30 below zero,
we're shooting all night, and hoping for snow.
And you're probably not used to that weather.
No. The other thing about Undertow is that the whole crew-the entire crew-
were all my best friends. There weren't strangers on that movie, and this movie...
it was ultimately a positive experience, but I had to learn to communicate with a lot of strangers, a lot of people who were doing a job. It's weird when you have people who are getting paid to hang out with you-and get paid more when it goes into overtime, so they slow it down and don't work very hard. And they think that's good.
It's just a weird psychology when people...you know, it's a legitimate industry,
rather than it's your buddies and you've got a few bucks and you want to make something great and have a crazy time. So it was difficult in that way, because I
had to communicate rather than have people read my mind. But it was certainly rewarding, and there is a good crew base up in Halifax. I brought my DP [director
of photography] and production designer and sound mixer and the major tech-
nical contributors to my other movies, but then we had to hire a lot of locals.
Devon Alan & Jamie Bell, Undertow
Were you filming at the same time-and I know this wasn't in Hali-
fax, but it was in Canada-as The Assassination of Jesse James?
[A movie filmed in Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg.]
This was right after that.
I was wondering, because there were all these big movies filmed in North-
eastern Canada that came out in the past year. That also reminded me of you,
because Paul Schneider is in it and because it has, to me-some people don't
see this-but it has this [Terrence] Malick look to the cinematography.
[Schneider, an NCSA classmate, appears in George Washington and
All the Real Girls. Malick has produced two of Green's films.]
People don't see that in Jesse James? Drunk people!
I know! That's what I was thinking, but I was talking to a friend, who's steep-
ed in film history, and he said the cinematography reminds him of some more obscure name. I can't remember who it was, but it might've been someone more...Expressionist. Like that opening scene, where it's all blurred out on the sides-which I don't associate with Terrence Malick-but the rest of the film: how could anyone not see that? And in a good way. I thought it was a gorgeous film.
[The Assassination was shot by Roger Deakins of No Country for Old Men fame.]
It's a pretty movie. I was on the set for a bit. The director's a friend of mine.
You're friends with Andrew Dominick?
I premiered my first movie in Australia when he premiered his first movie.
[2000's Chopper with a stand-up comedian named...Eric Bana.]
That's awesome. I can't believe he took so long between his two films.
He's a perfectionist. It took so long to edit his damned second movie.
And it's a long movie. It also has Zooey Deschanel in it. I hadn't
thought about that, but it has other actors with whom you've worked.
A lot of folks, like Pat Healey, the mechanic from Undertow...
And he's in Great World of Sound. I also caught him in an episode of The
Shield. Now that I know who he is, I've been keeping an eye out for him.
He's been in a bunch of stuff. Yeah, a lot of incestuous relationships.
Like Sam Shepard.
[From Malick's Days of Heaven.]
And Sam Rockwell.
Next: On the cast
Casey Affleck and Rockwell in The Assassination of Jesse James
Snow Angels is currently playing at the Harvard Exit Theatre.
Images from Geek Literature (Stephen Cawood), The New York
Times, No Budget Film School, and Yahoo! Movies.