SxSW '09 Interview: "It Came From Kuchar" Director Jennifer M. Kroot
It Came From Kuchar is the hilarious, touching, character-driven story of the legendary, underground filmmaking twins, George and Mike Kuchar, and how their outrageous, no-budget movies inspired generations of filmmakers. Director Jennifer M. Kroot on the film It Came From Kuchar which screens at this year's South by Southwest Film.
Is this your first film in SxSW? Do you have any other festival experience? Do you plan to be in Austin for the screenings?
I have never been to SXSW or Austin, but I am thrilled to be attending the premiere.
Could you give me a little look into your background (your own personal biography, if you will), and what led you to the desire to want to make film?
I was a film production student of George Kuchar at SFAI (San Francisco Art Institute) and I wanted to make a film about him the first day I met him. His teaching style is so fun and inspirational, and his personality is so innocently charismatic that I wanted to capture the experience. It's impossible to explain, so you must see my movie to understand his amazing charm.
Growing up, you were no doubt asked the eternal question "When I grow up I want to be a." Finish this sentence, please!
As a child I wanted to be a princess or an astronaut. When I was in my late teens I really wanted to pursue filmmaking.
How did this whole project come together?
I finally decided to put it together. My friend Holly Million is a professional fundraiser and she became my producer. We got five grants, including one from the Andy Warhol foundation. I started pursuing all the Kuchar fans I knew about and nagged them for interviews.
What was the biggest challenge in the production of the movie, be it the script, principal photography or post-production stage?
Money is the biggest obstacle in filmmaking. It's expensive to travel for interviews. It's expensive to rent or purchase equipment. It's simply expensive to make movies.
Please tell me about the technical side of the film; your relation to the film's cinematographer, what the film was shot on and why it was decided to be photographed this way.
My DP (Chris Million) was a friend of mine before we worked together, so that made it very comfortable to work and travel together. His wife is my good friend and producer. We decided to shoot with DVCpro 50 because it's very flattering. If it's good enough for Project Runway it's good enough for me. HD was too expensive.
Talk a bit about the experiences (festival or non-festival) that you have had with this particular film. Have you had any interesting audience stories or questions that have arisen at screenings? If this is your first screening premiere, what do you hope to expect at the screenings of the film?
I just finished the film last week and have not had any festival screenings yet. It premieres at SXSW. The test audiences loved it and just wanted to learn more about the Kuchar brothers after watching it.
Who would you say is "the audience" for this film? Do you want to reach everyone possible or any particular type of filmgoer?
This film is really for everyone over 15. It's just a funny and touching story of uniquely inspiring brothers. The creativity of the Kuchar brothers is magical and their stories are very human. It might be especially interesting to art students and film students. There are some LGBT themes, but it is for everyone.
Who would you say your biggest inspirations are in the film world (directors, actors, cinematographers, etc)? Did you have any direct inspirations from filmmakers for this project in particular?
The Kuchars are my biggest film inspiration and it's been fantastic to get to know them so well, and follow George as he works as a teacher and filmmaker. I continue to be fascinated by their magic. John Waters is one of my biggest role models and since he is a huge Kuchar fan I was able to meet him, get to know him, interview him and get his feedback on the film. It was amazing to have that opportunity.
Buck Henry is also very inspirational to me and he is interviewed in the film. He advised me on many things along the filmmaking path, and gave me feedback on the editing and it's been a huge help to work with him.
How far do you think you would want to go in this industry? Do you see yourself working on larger stories for a larger budget under the studio system, or do you feel that you would like to continue down the independent film path?
I want to continue to direct films, docs and narratives.
If you weren't in this profession, what other line of work do think you would be involved with?
I would love to make jewelry.
Please tell me some filmmakers, actors or other talent that you would love to work with, even if money was no object.
I would love to work with Martin Landau because he's so talented.
How important do you think the critical/media response is to film these days, be it a large production, independent film or festival title?
It's always very important to be well received in the media, especially for a small film.
If your film could play in any movie theatre in the world, which one would you choose?
The Castro Theatre in my hometown of San Francisco.
What would you say to someone on the street to see your film instead of the latest blockbuster playing at the local megaplex?
I'd just tell them that the Kuchar brothers probably had direct or indirect influence on every film in the megaplex, and it would be true. The Kuchars are very inspirational to some very famous filmmakers.
What would you say or do to someone who is talking during or conversing/texting on their cell phone while you're watching a movie (if at your own screening or another movie you attend)?
I'd ask them nicely to stop, and if they didn't I'd get the manager and publicly humiliate them.
And finally: What is your all time favourite motion picture, and why?
I love John Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast. I love fairytales. I love the surreal and magical visuals. I prefer to watch fantasy in films rather than reality.