Monday, 6/25/2012

Megan Boone: Sex and the Indies

From Hollywood Trailer to Camping Tent

Megan Boone (29) began her Hollywood career as teen slasher victim in 3-D remake MY BLOODY VALENTINE, and went to act in SEX AND THE CITY 2. In NBC series LAW & ORDER: LOS ANGELES she was junior district attorney Lauren Stanton 2010-2011. At the same time, she didn't shy away from roles in low-budget arthouse films like David Robert Mitchell's THE MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER, which screened at FILMFEST MÜNCHEN 2010 to a great reception and won the American Indie award that year. In this year's program, she plays the lead in LEAVE ME LIKE YOU FOUND ME, which was shot on no budget in two weeks spent on a campground in Sequoia National Park. After that, she produced Suzuya Bobo's FAMILY GAMES, currently in postproduction, playing a young woman who sabotages her father's wedding to a new woman. She also appears in 3-D dance sensation STEP UP REVOLUTION, releasing this summer in the US and Europe.

Have you been to Europe before? Munich?

I spent a year in London studying and working, and I would travel to Europe on weekends. I've been to Germany.  First, following a mentor of mine, Jane Alexander to Frankfurt where she played the poet Djuna Barnes in WHAT OF THE NIGHT.  Then, I spent a weekend as a tourist in Berlin. But I've never been to Munich…

You began in Hollywood TV series and films like MY BLOODY VALENTINE and SEX AND THE CITY 2, now you shot indie LEAVE ME LIKE YOU FOUND ME camping in Sequoia National Park. Did you ever miss the comfort of a trailer? How do you compare the two modes of filmmaking?

They're exactly the same at their core.  Set can function well or terribly no matter how much or how little money is involved.  SEX AND THE CITY was a fun set, because Michael Patrick King is an incredible leader.  I was enamored of the elaborate sets they created to replicate the interiors of old New York Brownstones, down to the molding.  But I've been a part of large budget productions that were terrible, and very uncomfortable despite the amenities. They had me riddled with fear and anxiety.
Having trailers, while comfortable can be isolating and they contribute to the hierarchical mindset that pervades Hollywood, and hinders collaboration.  Then on the other hand it's very important in any situation to have a certain amount of time alone, depending on your personal needs.

Kerr Smith and Megan Boone in MY BLOODY VALENTINE

The best comparison I can imagine would be a family.   Their ability to function isn't dependent on the lifestyle they can afford.  It can be hindered by poverty, but too much money can be just as debilitating. The foundation of having a strong director can set the tone for how the cast and crew handle adverse conditions and the spirit behind their work.  
Even before I understood this, my decision to work on something was never based on budget, although I don't think I have a whole lot of these micro-budget films left in me.
After the twelfth night of sleeping in an eight person tent, I missed having a trailer.  But, as we packed ourselves like sardines into two cars, put the gear in the back and drove up to the forest to make a film, I didn't miss them at all.

You just worked as a Producer just like Adele Romanski - did you find yourself wishing yourself in the director's chair as well?

No, I am an actor by nature.  Directors have a different imaginative perspective, focus and stamina. They think of the story in a way that I am not inclined to, I naturally hone in on the arch of a single character.   I actually trained myself to think this way.  It can be very natural to try to control other aspects, but when your acting that isn't your job and it's best to stear clear. Producing was just a way for me to get to work on something I really liked.  I was careful to establish myself as an actor with the crew first.  It was important to the film that they view me that way and relinquish control to other authorities while we were shooting. The script for FAMILY GAMES was so appealing to me that I was willing to sacrifice a lot and work very hard as a producer in order to create the opportunity to work on it.

Romanski is part of the vibrant Austin indie scene around Mark and Jay Duplass, LEAVE ME LIKE YOU FOUND ME premiered at SXSW - how did you experience that crowd and the Texas film scene?

I haven't had a ton of experience with that crowd, other than a raucous New Years Eve party that started in a bar on the far east side of Hollywood and ended with a carpool leaving the Duplass'… I remember we kept jumping to try and touch the disco ball in the middle of the dance floor, not in their house, at the bar. We got some good photos.  
I think the Duplass' are making wonderful, heartfelt movies. I just saw JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME,  I was in my livingroom and as it was ending I screamed, "MOVIES!" at the top of my lungs.  I was celebrating their accomplishment and the way it made me feel. I think they know how to make simple things very powerful because of where they came from, how they started making films.

David Nordstrom and Megan Boone in LEAVE ME LIKE YOU FOUND ME

Is it true "Leave Me Like You Found Me" was shot for $300...?

That's a rumor that was started in Austin because someone added up what we paid in camping fees, but whoever it was was obviously a terrible accountant because they didn't include the Hormel's chili or the wonder bread with peanut butter we required to stay alive.

"Why do we hurt the ones we love?" is the topic of the film. How did you relate to that theme personally?

I interpret the film differently than most people do, because I no longer feel like these characters love each other.   I think they are dependent on one other. Cal is lazy and uncaring for the most part, while Erin is needy and guiless.   She has no sense of herself and doesn't understand that her feelings for Cal have more to do with her insecurity and sexual attraction than real love.  She doesn't know real love, and that's the tragedy of the film.  Neither of them do.   They deserve one another in that sense, and only by crashing up against each other can they realize who they really are. The film tends to leave people feeling melancholic, and I think it's because these characters are failing.  The audience has an intuitive understanding that Cal and Erin will have to go on experiencing pain as a result of their dysfunctional and petty behavior.  And the tragic part is, they won't love or be loved.  They may never know love… the film lets that linger.

How do you compare US indie film to Euro arthouse? Any particular loves or hates?

Euro arthouse has more freedom to go against traditional narrative structure. American audiences are confused by something that strays too far from that model.  They are addicted to escapist entertainment.  It's hard to sell films that aren't familiar in the US, and so people are scared to make them.  We have a hard time swallowing an irredeemable person in the protagonist role.  We get really turned off to a movie if we don't "like" one of the characters that is in a role we are accustom to liking, even if it's a supporting role.  If it's not a villain that gets thwarted in the end, it's not appealing.  That's ridiculous to me. People are deeply flawed, usually, and are heroic when they recognize and overcome shortcomings.  That's the path of the hero, but many people don't take it.  So it's important to make films that reflect that we're failures sometimes. The good news is, people are experimenting more and more in America now, because (like with this film) there is very little risk in doing so and we all want the adventure.  Working on LEAVE ME was my way of getting to be a part of that, while still supporting myself with Hollywood jobs. Producing FAMILY GAMES was my plunge into it.

European film tends to depend on state film funding, state film schools and pubweb funding. What's your advice to budding indie filmmakers?

Everything I've ever done, I've been in way over my head.  There is no formula, and there are no answers, so don't wait for them to appear.  You just have to be willing to fail every day.  I just say, keep trying and be graceful under pressure. My life suggests that accomplishments are what add up over time, and failure is what a day feels like.

In STEP UP REVOLUTION - Photo © 2012 Constantin Film Verleih GmbH

What's in the Hollywood pipeline? Would you do SEX AND THE CITY 3?

I am in some movies that are going to come out where kids are really funky in a dance franchise and Jean Claude Van Damme tries his valiant hand at comedy.  They're called  STEP UP REVOLUTION and WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE and only one of them is in 3D.

Sometimes I laugh at my life.

I was in a very cynical phase when I got a call to go down to Miami to shoot a movie with very enthusiastic nineteen year olds that could dance like maniacs… and they did, all the time... in hotel lobbies, by craft services, outside of the make-up trailer, in elevators, there were people dancing who lived to dance and did it as much as possible all around me.  Suddenly I was enamored with the world again.
Then, after being wiped out from producing FAMILY GAMES, I was asked to get on a plane in three days to Puerto Rico and stay in a hotel on the beach for a month.  In the evenings, if I decided to wander down to the beach, Jean Claude Van Damme would be there telling everyone stories about partying in Europe as an action star, and the patriotic sybolism of the Belgian Waffle.
I would do SEX 3 if I weren't busy playing a blood hungry half prihana /half woman, or something that would win out in total absurdity, and require that I learn to scuba dive.

What are you working on personally? Any writing/directing plans? What's the movie you're dying to make?

I'm not writing anything, I'm not looking to direct either.  I'd like to continue acting.  An aspect of being an actor that I've embraced and grown to love is that it's impossible to predict.  It would be futile for me to desire a specific project or collaboration.  There are directors and writers I love (and I get a charge from reading their scripts or seeing their films) but it wouldn't help me to aspire to work with them.   It may hinder my ability to find them as peers one day. Those things have to just happen naturally.  It's like when you persue a friendship with someone because you think that person is amazing and posesses something you want in your life. I'm personally working on building a life and mind that supports me, and understanding who I am and what I have to offer creatively, so that I can bring more to whatever comes my way.

I'm also keen on learning to scuba dive, just putting that out there.

Interview: Collin McMahon
Permission to reprint - with credit and reference copy.

© 2012 Constantin Film Verleih GmbH