I had a marvelous interview with filmmaker David Russo in preparation for the profile I penned for the Weekly earlier this week (read the feature here). Only a fraction of that interview, conducted over an easy hour-long brunch, made it into the article. Here are a few clips from the interview.On getting Little Dizzle made:
It lurched into production without anyone seeing where it came from, really, because it was just a last ditch effort that we went to L.A. and held auditions. Well, we don't have any money, we're just going to go down there and make believe that we have money, so I got a hold of my commercial agent, got a beautiful office to hold these wonderful auditions, I saw hundreds and hundreds of actors, worked with each and every one of them. It was an opportunity for me to show to potential investors that I can relate to actors just fine. And after that, the thing just lurched. We had to shoot only three weeks after it was greenlit, because of the availability of certain actors, and it got greenlit out of nowhere. I wanted to shoot this in the winter or the autumn, I didn't want to shoot in the middle of summer - a night movie, are you kidding, where we're having to shoot graveyard during the solstice? It was a nightmare. I didn't want to, I didn't want to, I didn't want to, and then just, bang. If I had it to do over again, I would have had six weeks of preparation and not just three because it was chaos. I am amazed that we pulled it together. Think of all the locations that are in there. All the casting had to be done in that three weeks. We never did raise all the money, but who does?
On the visions of Little Dizzle:
The movie is a great excuse for me to create little moments of what I hope are appreciation of this non-story. I came up with a plot that involved visions because that's a part of human life and we don't recognize it enough in movies. That fish sequence [animated by Russo in the style of his recent short films] might not have a whole to do with the story other than he's having a vision, but it's my chance to do my homage to bar art. I love bar art and I love having two beers, three beers, and all of a sudden some piece of junk that's up there at the bar transports me so much more effectively than any museum experience I've ever had. Why don't movies indulge in the visions people have all the time? So it seems like a diversion to say that, 'All right, we're all going to go to a fish place now because Dory's having a vision,' and believe me, I work on it. In Dolby Digital Surround sound, with that beautiful woman's voice singing that starts to slowly surround you in all the speakers creating an acoustic chorus effect that will envelope you. You really go somewhere during that fish sequence if you're in the right environment. That's a great excuse to make a feature, just that moment. So I equipped my script to contain little areas where we could take a break. We could let it go off the rails.
On the sound of Little Dizzle:
I just love sound. It's half of the movie for me. If there's one masterpiece part of "Dizzle" that I'm so satisfied with, it's the sound. I love it. I made mistakes everywhere else, but with the sound I think we did about as good as we could do it.
On the character OC:
OC and Dory represent two parts of myself. I didn't know where to begin so, like a good beginner, you start with yourself. I'm going to write a movie that's basically dividing up sections of me. OC is the artist that I've always wanted to be, the one that really believed in what he was saying, maybe not that talented but it didn't really matter. He believes it and is not a depressed guy. OC is the manic side of myself. I sit around for months waiting for twenty minutes where I can feel like OC and come up with kernels of ideas that I can spend years pursuing. That's who OC is. He's the optimist, a generative artist that people like being around, almost like a bonfire. You just like warming your hands near him. I've always had a great admiration for artists like that and it usually it has nothing to do with their work. There was a lot of creativity going on in my formative years in the late eighties and early nineties in the Seattle music scene and for every musician that people have heard of there's three hundred that people haven't heard of. OC is an amalgamation of a couple of people I know.... I was a janitor for eleven years and I was trained by an OC.
On Dory and religion:
I like the feeling of religions just washing over us until he gives birth, and then something happens that makes him just slightly more whole, whole enough that he can help a friend of his pray and really mean it. That's my biggest achievement, I think, in Dizzle, was the prayer. That it didn't come off as a burn. I've watched audiences cry during that scene. They go with it. And it takes a whole movie to get an audience to break down their defenses. All that toilet humor, all that comedy, all that what seems like meaningless character development, it's realty important because audiences have a defense against religious movies. I want to get past that, because religion, fortunately or unfortunately, is a part of our future, it's a part of our culture, and it will only become more so. So I created Dory to be that kind of guy who would wander in and go, 'Oh, wow.' And then just as easily go into a Mosque and, with just as open a heart, get his ass in the air and his nose on the ground and pray to Allah. Or walk into a Buddhist temple and go, 'Okay, now I'm going to pray.' I think it's a great form of tourism: it's carbon friendly, I don't think enough people do it. If you want a new experience, instead of going to Rome or to Hawaii or the Bahamas, walk into a Mosque and say, 'I want to understand more about this religion.' Come with some respect and you will go places and it will benefit you in ways you would never imagine.
Everything in Dizzle, for better and for worse, has a foundation in a real thought. It is a movie of real intention. There are no accidents. There are mistakes but in terms of its design - the characters, the effects, the allegory that's going on, the subject matter, the religious part - it's all a part of a design to create something for people's memories, something to chew on. I enjoy chewing on movies. I do not like to be spoon fed what I'm supposed to think and so I just try to give an intelligent viewer something to think about if they care to. If you want to show up for toilet humor, you still might not go away unhappy. If you're a frat boy who just shows up wanting blue poop humor, hey, we serve it up in the third act.
What I'm hoping I've done at the very least is given a movie for intelligent people who find the film a chance to maybe revisit it at one point. Because I think just on one viewing it is a little overwhelming and your thoughts will be nebulous because you do have to figure out what this means. Not just what I'm trying to get you to understand, but you have to figure out what these things mean. I give you a lot.