Heralded as one of the most creative teams in independent film — Antonio Campos, Brady Corbet, Josh Mond, and Sean Durkin. They have brought us films such as “”After School,” Martha Marcy May Marlene” and “Two Gates of Sleep.” Now, the collective has re-teamed to breathe life into their most ambitious project to date — “Simon Killer”. The film focuses on a young man, Simon, who has been recently heartbroken and travels to Paris to clear his head. After several days of wandering aimlessly, Simon finds himself drawn into a sex parlor and has a sexual encounter with an exotic prostitute, Victoria (Mati Diop, 35 SHOTS OF RUM). The chemistry builds between the two until they find themselves in a serious relationship, one that leads to blackmail, betrayal and the ultimate revelation of Simon’s true nature. ‘Simon Killer’ is written and directed by Antonio Campos and stars Brady Corbet. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with the duo to discuss their passion for cinema, the creative process for ‘Simon Killer’ and the challenges involved.
Filmmaking and acting are two careers that are very challenging and not for the faint of heart. What inspired you both to pursue your chosen professions?
Brady: For me, I didn’t choose it. I think it chose me. I really had my first holy experience, excuse me for being dramatic, but my first sort of transcendental experiences happened inside a movie theater. It was the only thing I knew to devote my life to and that was that!
Antonio: I didn’t know what filmmaking was but I knew movies made me feel a certain way. As a child, everything I wanted to do somehow related to something I had seen. There seemed to be something about the idea of making movies that really entranced me as a child. I think it was partially because it seemed like something I could control and there was some sort of order I could have through the movies. When I made my first short film, I realized I could explore the things going through my head in a way I couldn’t do with words. I think that made it clear that I wanted to do this.
What can you tell us about your latest film, “Simon Killer,” began to take shape?
Brady: Antonio approached me the summer we were about to into production for “Martha Marcy May Marlene”. Basically, he told me he was interested in doing this sort of hard-boiled, film noir, character study of a young man who unravels in Paris. We started talking about the various potential turns, twists and the psychology of this character. It developed very quickly from there. We were able to set it to maps in terms of in terms of structure very quickly. Antonio and I see quite eye to eye. It is a rare occasion that we disagree about much! It was a very nature way to start talking about a story to actually telling one.
You have both worked together before and see eye to eye on most things. How has your relationship evolved creatively through the years?
Antonio: It has evolved with every project. When we first met, we were collaborating on a film that Brady starred in and I was an executive producer on and I was on the peripheral of that. Over time Brady and I found ourselves spending a lot of time together and we both understood we both kinda see things the same way. When we got into the post-production process, we started where we didn’t get much sleep, we started having discussions about cinema, what we liked and didn’t like. When you are there in the editing room, you are making decisions, ya know? You are making decisions you can see work or don’t work immediately. When we were in the editing room together, we would see where our ideas would go. More often than not, 99% of the time, we agreed with each other’s decisions. I don’t think that has changed that much and that was four years ago. It was just a matter of us working on different projects together, there was always something exciting about it. No matter what capacity I am on a film for be it directing, producing or have nothing to do with it at all, Brady and I see things similarly and we similarly attack problems.
What was the biggest challenge of ‘Simon Killer’ from both an acting and directorial standpoint?
Antonio: Truly everything. We did something that is pretty fucking mad in this day and age in how difficult it is to get a film financed. I mean, to make a film without a traditional screenplay that is not a mumblecore romantic comedy or people sitting around their living room talking about their feelings but actually making a film that is quite cinematically ambitious and quite radical at times is rare. We had a hunch that we could do it and it was enough of a hunch that we went ahead and did it. The idea of doing the improvisation was a big challenge in itself but it wasn’t one we were scared of. We were kinda excited by it! We never stopped to say “Holy shit! What are we doing?” We kept doing it and trying to figure things out.
Brady: The whole thing was a puzzle. I suppose we enjoyed that aspect of it. As stressful as it was at times, there was something about the process that was particularly liberating. I think this project birthed a real desire for freedom. Let’s stop talking about it and go make the damn thing! Which is how a lot of movies get made. At a certain point, you just get fed up!
I know our time is short. What is next for you guys?
Brady: I have a few things going on. I co-wrote a film with Mona Fastvold called “The Sleepwalker”. I am also in the film and it is coming out and will be doing the festivals his year. It is quite a haunting and impressive debut feature from her. Right now, I have a few days off but I am going back to finish a movie I have been doing with Benecio Del Toro and Josh Hutcherson for director Andrea Di Stefano about Pablo Escobar called “Paradise Lost”. When I get back from that, I am in the process of getting a film I am directing off the ground next year in France.
Antonio: I am going to be writing something. In fact, I am writing something right now! Josh [Mond] will be directing something and I will be directing something too!
Great! Thanks for your time today guys. The film was very well done and I wish you continued success in the future! You guys are very inspiring!
Brady: Thank you so much!
Antonio: Thank you!
‘Simon Killer’ opens in theaters on April 5th, 2013 and hits VOD on April 12th, 2013.