Wednesday night marked the premiere for the film “Wrong Cops,” which will be released December 20th, check out our review here then make sure to check out the movie. This last week director/writer/editor/cinematographer Quentin Dupieux answered some questions at a press day that Unleash The Fanboy was able to attend.
“Wrong Cops” featuring Steve Little, Mark Burnham, Marilyn Manson and more, is about several cops bored in their crimeless town. Filmed in no time at all, Dupieux, who also performed all of the above jobs for the film “Rubber,” talks about his passionate process of filming and what it’s like to film on a low budget with serious time constraints. Here’s a bit of what went down.
Note: These questions come from various press members at the event
Q: When doing a production like this, what is the biggest challenge?
Quentin Dupieux: “It’s challenging on many levels, first, I have to deal with something really strange, for example, this was the first time working with Eric Wareheim. We knew each other a little bit. So it’s like Eric arrives on set at 8 and at 8:30 [we shoot], because we are fast and have to shoot quickly- I think we shot this movie in 17 days- so you know, we have to shoot a lot to get everything done, so Eric arrives, we don’t know each other well and after 30 minutes of prep we have to shoot and that’s weird. Every first day for an actor we have to find a connection. So that’s the first challenge, I think.
The other one, which I like, because it’s something I really like to deal with, is the short amount of time we have. Like, we have five scenes to shoot [in a day] and we jump into three locations, this is the way I like to work because I hate waiting on set. That’s why I’m not using any artificial lights, that’s why I’m operating the camera myself, just because this way we are always shooting, but that’s not a real challenge because that’s what I do every time I shoot a movie. I’ve never had like three months to shoot a movie, it’s always around 20 days, 15 for ‘Rubber.’
Then, another challenge on a movie like this, especially “Wrong Cops” because the script was written very quickly and that was the idea behind it. I wanted to do something fresh without polishing the script or thinking too much about it, so that’s another challenge, to make sure we’re not filming shit. Because when you write a script in three weeks not everything is perfect, some dialogues are not really good, some things are useless and during the shoot, time is so precious you have to make sure you’re not spending five hours on bad scene. So it’s a little tricky but again I love to work, and I love the time limit [and] money limit I usually get.”
Q: “Wrong Cops” was originally a short, what was the transition to make it into a feature?
Dupieux: “Easy, I did what we call a “Chapter One” but now, like in the movie, “Chapter One” is almost gone, I just kept 20% of it. It was just supposed to be a promotion for my new album coming out, because I don’t really like music videos- I used to do some ten years ago [but] that’s not something I’m interested in. I decided to do something different so I wrote a short film around my music and [Marilyn] Manson contacted me because he had enjoyed ‘Rubber’ so much he wanted to work with me, so I wrote this part for him. So I had a 15 minute short film about music, we did it in three days and loved it so much and had a great response online, so we decided to do more.
The next step, because this was like a chapter, I decided to write six other chapters, and the idea was to do Monday, Tuesday…until Sunday, so that’s how I wrote it. But then, when I put everything together it was not very good. It was a little boring, it was more like watching seven short films, so it was not really intense. The movie was not really working as a movie, so I went back in the editing room and spent 20 more days, I tried a different combination to make it more into a movie because the idea of a miniseries was not working in the cinema, and the idea was to put this into a cinema.”
Q: How difficult was getting the cast together?
Dupieux: “Well there’s different types of actors in this movie, for example, you have people like Ray Wise and Grace Zabriskie, these people we just offered the part, we sent the script to their agent and basically say, ‘Look, we have no money, but we just need you for a day or two,’ and when they like the script they come. Then for smaller cast, I have a great casting director, Donna Morong, she just tapes 20-30 people per role and usually I find gold. For example, the lead part, Mark Burnham, was casted for my previous movie “Wrong,” You watch 20 guys trying to be cops, then suddenly ‘Boom!’ there’s this guy and he’s so strong and even with a bad video camera with a green wall, he’s incredible and you feel like watching a movie, that’s how I do it. Casting sessions are super hard because the sound is terrible and the image looks like shit, the actor isn’t dressed, the lighting is terrible, everything is terrible, so it’s the worst version of your script, it looks like the worst movie. It’s usually painful, not because of the actors, of course, just because it’s like a bad version of your dream. So, when an actor is really good, someone like Mark for example, suddenly you don’t care about the image, you don’t care about the sound, just because the actor is super strong and he’s already the movie. “
Q: Touching back on the challenge aspect, self-challenge is a big thing for you, right?
Dupieux:” Yeah, basically that’s where I find the good energy. Like I said, it’s a different job, that’s why I don’t like to call myself a director, because that’s a different job. I’m supposed to call this a movie, but it’s not even what we call a movie, it’s more like artistic experience, the way it’s done is so different that, to me, it’s not a movie. Usually, you don’t go out shooting when the script is not perfect, but I’m excited. Like if someone were to say ‘OK, you have $20 million and you’re going to shoot in four years, write the script,’ I won’t do anything, because that’s not exciting, I’m bored already. I’d rather shoot for a little bit of money but very soon.”
So for those wondering about the process of Dupieux’s outlandish films, the rapid pace and low budget are truly the key ingredients to their charm. As for “Wrong Cops,” the script is definitely ‘fresh’ and probably wouldn’t sustain the film otherwise. Come December 20th, make sure to find out how everything came together.