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SXSW '07 Interview: "Monkey Warfare" Director Reg Harkema

by Scott Weinberg

The "Monkey Warfare" Pitch: A couple of ex-revolutionaries living underground befriend a sexy young radical who goes from smashing SUVs to fighting gentrification with firebombs.

Describe your movie using the smallest number of words possible.
This film kills fascists.

Is this your first trip to SXSW? Got any other film festival experience? If you're a festival veteran, let us know your favorite and least-favorite parts of the ride.
I came to SXSW 10 years ago with a Bruce McDonald film I edited called Hard Core Logo. Quentin Tarantino was at the screening and I've never heard anyone laugh their ass off so loudly at something I had worked on. He bought the film after the screening.

Not including your backyard and your Dad's Handycam, how did you get your real "start" in filmmaking?
In university, hanging with music and literature grad students who took me to see Bergman's The Seventh Seal.

Do you feel any differently about your film now that you know it's on "the festival circuit?"
Well, I'm feeling like it makes Citizen Kane look like Clerks right now, but ask me at the end of SXSW after you guys get a chance to have a kick at it.

Of all the Muppets, which one do you most relate to?
Animal. Especially when I've snorted a lot of meth.

During production did you ever find yourself thinking ahead to film festivals, paying customers, good & bad reviews, etc?
Every time I freaked out on set about not having a stills photographer I guess I must have been subconsciously thinking about those things.

How did this film get rolling at the beginning? Give us a brief history from writing to production to post to just last night.
A script about a sexy young radical who suicide bombs the Molson Indy is ready to pitch to distributors on September 11, 2001.

A scene between two actors who are a couple playing a couple intrigues the editor of Childstar around Jan 2004.

A film about a couple who become involved with a sexy young radical is filmed in Aug 2005.

An email interview with eFilmCritic is completed February 18, 2007.

If you could share one massive lesson that you learned while making this movie, what would it be?
A bank will give you a $50,000 line of credit in your late thirties if you invested in enough mutual funds in your early twenties. My little sister Carole, an accountant, taught me that one.

What films and filmmakers have acted as your inspirations, be they a lifelong love or a very specific scene composition?

Godard, Eustache, Rohmer, Fassbinder, Sirk, Cassavetes, Antonioni, Zweig, La Chinoise, La Maman et La Putain, Weekend, Grey Gardens, Easy Rider, Chloe in the Afternoon, Deux ou Trois Choses Que Je Sais D'Elle.

Say you landed a big studio contract tomorrow, and they offered you a semi-huge budget to remake, adapt, or sequelize something. What projects would you tackle?
Zabriskie Point - remake, Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers - adapt, Gummo - sequel

Name an actor in your film that's absolutely destined for the big-time. And why, of course.
Don McKellar and Tracy Wright have already hit the big time, so I guess I'd have to say Nadia Litz. She'll be hanging out at SXSW and charming all the other directors, so she should have no trouble hitting the big time now.

Finish this sentence: If I weren't a filmmaker, I'd almost definitely be...
A cop. Just like my dad.

Who's an actor you'd kill a small dog to work with? (Don't worry; nobody would know.)
Elias Koteas (Crash, Ararat)

Have you "made it" yet? If not, what would have to happen for you to be able to say "Yes, wow. I have totally made it!"
When I can make a movie in Toronto without having to take an editing gig in Vancouver to pay for it.

Honestly, how important are film critics nowadays?
The way I mostly get turned on to films is by criticism I read, so it's really important to me. I probably wouldn't think that way if all I read were critics telling me how much Little Miss Sunshine sold for at Sundance.

You're told that your next movie must have one "product placement" on board, but you can pick the product. What would it be?

George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey

You're contractually obligated to deliver an R-rated film to your producers. The MPAA says you have to delete a sex scene that's absolutely integral to the film or you're getting an NC-17. How do you handle it?
"Dimebag" Jack Valenti

What's your take on the whole "a film by DIRECTOR" issue? Do you feel it's tacky, because hundreds (or at least dozens) of people collaborate to make a film - or do you think it's cool, because ultimately the director is the final word on pretty much everything?
My director's credit is on card 3 of our tail credits along with our sound recordist and locations manager (George Cassavetti whose dad produced Fear and Loathing and happens to be a distant relative of John Cassavettes).

In closing, we ask you to convince the average movie-watcher to choose your film instead of the trillion other options they have. How do you do it?
Film is the most environmentally damaging art form known to man other than a U2 tour. Stay at home and learn to do shadow puppet shows of "An Inconvenient Truth" instead.


Reg Harkema's Monkey Warfare will play as part of the 2007 South By Southwest's "Emerging Visions" slate. Click here for the official site. And check out BSide.com for even more info!

link directly to this feature at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=2086
originally posted: 02/19/07 04:37:24
last updated: 03/06/07 17:37:00
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