Someone's in the house. He's watching. He's creeping round, only you can't see him. He's watching you from the walls. He's right behind you now. Looking over your shoulder. He wants the remote control. He's a bad boy. He wants to watch bad movies. Bad bad Ronald...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

BadRonald Interview: The Woman Producer - Andrew van den Houten

Yesterday, I posted my interview with Pollyanna McIntosh, and today -- keeping with the The Woman build up -- I'm posting my interview with the film's producer Andrew van den Houten.  I've spoken to Andrew before, after he released Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door.  I was highly impressed with his views of producing and filmmaking.  I admired that he was able to bring such a controversial story to the screen, with a great sense of responsibility and honesty.  I'm glad to see that he's continued to tread down the path of bold filmmaking by releasing more thought-provoking films, such as The Woman.

BadRonald:    I remember you saying that you were in South America (is that correct?) reading a Ketchum book... what a weird experience that must've been.  Have you topped that on?

Andrew van den Houten:    I honestly haven't topped that experience...being sick with food poisoning reading THE GIRL NEXT DOOR for the first time will hopefully never be repeated!

BR:    You've produced, mostly.  But you've also directed.  What inspires you to take the lead as director?  And on the flipside, what makes you hand over the reigns to another director? 
AVDH    Stories that inspire me to (want to) direct and take the lead tend to connect with me in a more personal way.  Not to say I don't produce projects I'm not personally enthusiastic about, but there is just a deeper connection to those projects I end up directing.  Usually, I connect to creative material too based on where I am at in my life.  After The Girl Next Door, I wanted to direct something down and dirty with plenty of gore.  Offspring, based on Ketchum's novel, was the perfect '70's throwback to explore the themes I was trying to play with.  Also, it was great because Jack could have his first adaptation brought to the screen.

As a producer I always ask myself who will be the best director for any given project.  I have to be willing to put ego aside and make the best decision for the film.  The only way I've grown as a director is by working with more talented directors than myself.  I soak up what they teach me and use those techniques I like and leave the rest behind. 

BR:    After the relative success of The Girl Next Door, Jack Ketchum stories were sought after.  And in three years time THE LOST, OFFSPRING and RED were adapted for screen, with either you or Lucky McKee involved.  How did it happen, then, that the three of you all came together on The Woman?
AVDH    Lucky was introduced to me through Jack.  He asked if I wanted to do THE PASSENGER, which at the time I passed on.  A couple years later, as a fan of Lucky, I figured he'd be the perfect writer and director to work with myself and Jack to do the continuation of Offspring story, hence The Woman saga began!

BR:    There was a big brouhaha at Sundance over The Woman, with the infamous home video of the irate gentleman accusing the film of being negative towards women.  Can you talk about that incident, and have you heard nay more from that particular man?
AVDH:    First let me say, it seems that incident has made this film somewhat infamous.  No, Sundance Guy hasn't reached out to us ever since, however, I should thank him for all the publicity he has given the film.

In short, when the guy got up to protest Lucky and the film, everyone was a bit off guard.  Nobody saw it coming and it was especially strange because a woman had just past out in the back of the theatre at the end of the film.  This guy honestly was being very insensitive towards her and blatantly rude to Lucky and everyone who showed up to see the film.  He should have raised his hand and waited to be called on to express his feeling towards The Woman

As far as we all were concerned this guy could have been another dangerous lunatic, especially given the timing.  The GabrielleGifford's incident had just happened a few weeks before, so everyone was on high alert.   In the end, I guess you call it Karma...He hated the film and chose the wrong time to comment on the movie, and now people actually want to see if more because of his public outburst caught on video, now on youtube.

BR:    Has there been any other harsh words from viewers?  How is the film being received?
AVDH:    Actually, the film has been received incredibly well by critics and audiences alike.  We have won numerous awards at very prestigious festivals, including FrightFest in London.  Distributors have flocked to the film as well and we have closed many solid deals all over the world.  The film's controversy continues to stir people and get them to the theatre.  People seem to be intrigued by what they hear from critics and online in blogs and ultimately want to make their own judgements about our film. 

In the end, most people find The Woman to be much different than what they expect.  In many regards the film is feminist in what it says, which is incredibly rare for the genre.  People have found all kinds of representations in the movie, political and otherwise.  No matter how many times I've seen The Woman, it's still really exciting just to listen and watch how an audience responds from inside a dark theatre!

BR:    How did you become interested in making horror movies?
AVDH:    I've always been interested in just making films.  As a fan of horror, when William M. Miller sent me a horror script that later became developed into Headspace, I thought it would be a fun movie to make...that's how it all started.  One horror script led to more, however, since then I have also made a comedy, family movie and a drama.  I find all kinds of stories interesting but I will always have a passion for horror.

BR:    What or who are your influences?  Have you watched any of the so-called French Extremism horror?  Your films aren't as gory, or as overtly violent as these films, but they certainly share the same penchant for strong character development.  
AVDH:    I have many influences, including Roman Polanski, Martin Scorcese, and David Cronenberg.  I appreciate the way true filmmakers bring story, acting, set-design, lighting and photography all into one being.  Also, great filmmakers don't need to over emphasize what they are doing but use slight of hand.  Many times the most subtle sound or camera movement is more effective than the largest explosion Hollywood can produce.

As far as French Extremism goes, I haven't really looked to their films as an influence as much as I have Asian Extremism.  Filmmakers like Takashi Miike and Chan-wook Park have made stronger and more lasting impressions on me.

BR:    Now that you and Lucky and Jack are all hanging out in the cob-webbed, dank recesses of the darkness -- what's next for you guys?
AVDH:    Honestly, I see more to follow with The Woman storyline, especially since Jack and Lucky have left it in such a great place to continue.  I also very much would like to explore further to see what Lucky's next "dream project" might be.  Ever since May I've felt Lucky has not done something quite as personal.  That movie is special and he's got a really unique viewpoint on life that is shared through May.  I would love to see if inside the depths of his soul there's another masterpiece like that.  I would sign up in a heart beat to produce...After the creative freedom he had on The Woman, I would be confident in saying he might be down too.

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