Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Southerner Looks to the North: Part Six

A Chat with David Gordon Green: On Bill Anderson
and Pineapple Express
(click here for part five)


I've been trying to do a comedy for years, and nobody would take the leap with me.
-- David Gordon Green


I noticed in looking at the crew for Snow Angels, that you worked
[editor] Bill Anderson. The name didn't ring a bell until I look-
ed at a list of his movies. How did you come to work with him?

[The Northern Ireland-born Anderson has worked
extensively with Bruce Beresford and Peter Weir.]

I wanted to switch it up a little bit, and get a guy who could be a kind of mentor.
I really admired the movies he worked on, and talked him into working for donuts.
It was a really fun relationship, because he's of a different generation and-just as on Undertow, we had [Terrence] Malick and Ed Pressman to talk us through some things, because they were tremendous influences on movies we all liked-I think
it's important sometimes to reach out to people who aren't necessarily your best friends, but they obviously come from a soulful place you want to learn from.

Tender Mercies (1981)
His editing rhythms in Snow Angels are really interesting, and I noticed some-
body already said this in a review, so I'm not the first person to spot it, but they mentioned that every scene ends a beat or two sooner than you think it will. It's different from the editing in Undertow. I really liked it. You get what you need from each scene, but instead of the camera hanging on someone's face, it moves on.

Sometimes it cuts in the middle of a word.
You still get the gist. It works really well.
It brings a little anxiety to it, which I think is pretty cool.
It's almost the opposite of Undertow, because you have a lot of freeze-
frames in that, and you even say in the commentary that you were look-
ing at The Dukes of Hazzard, so there's a tiny bit of that kind of thing.

Yeah, that's more genre and cliches and goofball stuff, but with this I wanted-
I'm a big fan of Tender Mercies, which Bill edited. It has a lot of cool touches to it.
Were you a fan of No Country for Old Men?
I was.
A friend of mine mentioned that the same actress from
Tender Mercies is in No Country. In a way, it just makes the
ending that much better. She's the tie between the two.

[Tess Harper plays Robert Duvall's wife in Mercies, Tommy Lee Jones's in No Country.]
She's good.
So finally, how did you end up doing Pineapple Express?
Well, I've been trying to do a comedy for years, and nobody would take the
leap with me. Then while editing Snow Angels in Los Angeles, through some
friends I was hanging out on the Knocked Up set, and watching how they work-
ed, I was kind of inspired, because it was very similar to the way that we work: everybody trusts everybody, it's open collaboration, and people are throwing
ideas. Everybody's energetic, it's loose and improvisational, and sitting down
and talking with Judd [Apatow] and Seth [Rogen] on that set, they knew where
I was coming from and I knew where they were coming from. We just said, if
there's something that fits down the line, and then two weeks later, Seth sent
me this script that he and his buddy Evan Goldberg had just finished...
Who also worked on Superbad. But this isn't from when they were 13 years old.
No, it's from them now. [laughs] It's a wild, pretty far-out-it's a great blend of the two teams. It was a lot of fun, and we found a studio to take the risk and go for it.
And it's finished, right?
It's totally done.
Green's good luck charm
Are any of the actors you've worked with before in it?
Eddie Rouse [above] is in all my movies, except Snow Angels.
He's really interesting. He's got that 'thing.' You just want to watch...
I love Eddie. Who else is in it? Robert Longstreet, who has a little role in Under-
and is in Great World of Sound, who's awesome. He has a role in it. The mom
from Snow Angels-Jeanetta Arnette. She was on Head of the Class, the TV show.
Maybe that's where I know her from.
And Boys Don't Cry.
That's probably what I'm thinking of. So, people who've seen your
other films might feel a little more at home. Is it a stoner comedy?

It is.
I read a description of it as a stoner comedy,
but I wasn't sure if they were just assuming that.

It's gonna be the first stoner action movie.
This year also sees the second Harold & Kumar movie.
That first one was surprisingly great.
Gregg Araki's film was also supposed to come out this year.
Smiley Face?
Yeah. It went straight to DVD. I think it was an issue with his studio [which went out of business]. That was a stoner comedy, too, so there could've been three in a row.
We could've made history. Maybe we'll put our trailer on Harold & Kumar.
That's all I've got, and our time is up. Thanks for talking to me.
Sweet. It was good talking to you, too.
To start at the beginning, please click here. The Green-produced Shotgun Stories continues at the Northwest Film Forum (and as mentioned previously, Pineapple Express opens on 8/8). The NWFF is located at 1515 12th Ave. on Capitol Hill between Pike and Pine. For more information, please click here or call 206-329-2629. For more about Snow Angels, I'd recommend this great backgrounder.
Images from Green Key Management, Love Film, and The New York Times.

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