Ant Timpson talks The Incredibly Strange
Every year the New Zealand International Film Festival gets incredibly strange - thanks to the cinematic choices made by film supremo Ant Timpson.
So another year, another Incredibly Strange - how's it been sourcing them this year? Well, there are always hiccups when it comes to securing films for the festival. So many things can go askew at the last minute. This year was particularly bad as I lost two strong titles at the last minute and was scrambling to replace them. There was some pressure from outside sources that kept a title away from us. Sometimes we're battling against the big boys for titles, so it's a miracle we get any of them to be honest. Lots of times, it's having good relationships with people that snag us the gems. This year just seemed tough, we literally were placing films a day before the guide went to print.
It's going to be interesting to see if online petitions translate to bums on seats for Cabin in the Woods. Given the pressure to get this on a big screen rather than a straight to DVD release, what are your hopes for this film? The film is going to do well even though many have probably downloaded it and watched it via other means. They will turn up in droves because they are fans and want to see it in great surroundings. Piracy does affect many titles but there are some interesting swing benefits as well. I could write 10,000 words on the issue of downloading and what really needs to change. Getting angry or threatening with downloaders is a joke, you need to work with them and to understand the mindset of those who do download. How the hell did I get onto this?! Ok back to Cabin - what I wanted to say was how often do you get to see a very commercial horror title like this in a cinema like The Civic? In the 80s I used to see every horror film in that period in The Civic, Scanners etc but that's a long time ago. And even better there are no rats or water leakage these days.
Awesome to see another Ben Wheatley title this year too as last year's Kill List was a stunning piece. What can you tell us about Sightseers? I can tell you that it's funnier than it reads and it's more bloody than it reads but it's not nasty like Kill List was. I just think Ben has captured whats great about the work of folks like Shane Meadows / Mike Leigh and managed to transfuse their aesthetic with a unique vision and tone that is all his. I've always wanted to make a serial killing couple movie, ever since I was deeply affected by Badlands as a youngster. I remember loving the black humour and poetry in that film and I think Ben's done a tremendous job in managing to subtly make a wry commentary about life in the midlands.
V/H/S seems to be a cool choice as well - it's a kind of horror anthology film? Not a kind - it's very much an anthology film through and through. It just doesn't look like your typical anthology. No creepy crypt keeper or comic book pages. It's very lo-fi and analog all the way. What the film does do is offer some major scares for those who like 'BOO' horror outings. It also has a lot of humour in it which people may not be expecting. Some of the stories are much better than others but you never know how each one is going to play out - they all have something cool in them and the film ends really well. If you think Paranormal Activity was scary, then you're going to dig this.
Klown looks intriguing - what is it about this film which spoke to you? Well the crowd I was watching with spoke to me. It was one of the best audience reactions I've seen to a comedy for a long time. So I thought I have to get this film, and I even went so far as to partner up with Vendetta Films to put money into purchasing the rights for NZ/AUS. So now I have my arse on the line and am hoping people don't just think this is normal Ant Timpson hyperbole. This film delivers major solid laughs throughout.The characters are incredibly realised and the humour so biting it's brilliant. Women will love it because it's how idiotic men are and the lengths they go to remain unchanged by adulthood. It's really at its heart one man's attempt to be a father and failing miserably. The humour is very adult and is quite graphic. Not intended for kids that's for sure.
Generally, what do you look for from an audience who see your choices? I generally look for them to be in the cinema at the end of the film. That's always a good sign. I just want a reaction to be honest. Positive is obviously the best but I'll take the polar opposite as well.. I just don't want a flat response. Nothing hurts me more than someone saying "Hmmmn well that was ok I guess" OK? OK is for losers. I want "That was fucking amazing" or "Oh God, what the hell did you just drag me to" effect.
You're often lurking around during the screenings - do you get something from every film each time you see it? Well I lurk for other reasons but let's not get into that here where it can be used against me in a court of law. But for sure, I love checking in on screenings of films I've already seen a few times. I'm
a meta-voyeur in that respect.I get off watching people get off. Every good film has the ability to transform into something new each time you watch it. That's the power of great cinema, that there are areas you haven't peeled away until you've seen it a few times.
We always want to know - what's the one film that you didn't quite get that you wanted? This year I wanted The Final Member, a documentary about two men competing for their penises to be placed as the human specimen in the World Famous Penis Museum. It is far more compelling and crazy as even that sounds. And You're Next, the fun horror film by my buddy Adam Wingard who we brought down for Pop skull his $2000 feature a few years back. That was looking good but the distributor has other plans for it. There was also Wrong, which was in and then out and then in.. this is the surreal new feature by the mysterious director behind the cult hit Rubber.
You've been hinting online that there's another film coming that has not been announced yet - what more can you tell us? Well that was Compliance which I saw earlier this year. From Craig Zobel who many older net nerds will know from being the creator of Homestarr Runner. This film which is a composite of some truly strange true crimes will provoke a lot of discussion, it will piss some people off and others will be mesmerized. It's one of those films that the director gets accused of somehow exploiting the subject matter and make the audience complicit in the onscreen activity.
You've been involved in the Make My Movie competition. How is the winner How To Meet Girls From a Distance looking? It's looking excellent considering all the pressures those guys have been under. I think it's a surprisingly commercial film and that folks will find it a pretty enjoyable romcom with a bit of added weirdness to it. There are not many folks who could deliver a film on that tight a schedule for $100k. We're very happy with the team behind it. We threw everything at them and they still came out smiling. To be selected in the NZFF is a major achievement as well. People might think with my association it was a no brainer getting it in. Well, let me just put the kaibosh on that right now. There is no way on earth that Bill Gosden will programme anything he doesn't like. Just no way. I know how he feels and I was never going to request a favour for the film to be included. But he dug it and it shows in that he's programming the film outside of its hometown of Wellington into other regions. That's the proof right there.
What's your pick outside of the IS of course, for this year's festival?
Oh man there's way too many. Holy Motors is high on my list and of course Compliance. I really hope people take a punt on the smaller films in the IS section like Room 237 about the mysteries of The Shining which is such a beautiful and heady pic.
You can get the full NZ Film Festival programme at www.nzff.co.nz and also, get details of how and where you can book tickets for the event which kicks off in Auckland on July19th!