Like what “Airplane!” did to disaster movies and “Scary Movie” did to horror movies, “My Big Fat Independent Movie” does to indie films. It skewers them! Written and produced by our own Chris Gore and directed by Philip “Walkentalk” Zlotorynski, “My Big Fat Independent Movie” spoofs some of independent film’s most cherished movies, such as “Memento,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Magnolia,” “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” “Amelie,” “Run Lola Run,” “El Mariachi,” “The Good Girl,” “Pi,” “Swingers” and many others. Who ever knew that poking fun at art house movies could be so funny. Now you know!
Just as “My Big Fat Independent Movie” begins its theatrical run, I spoke with director Philip Zlotorynski to get the big fat on his feature film.
Your short Walkentalk impressed a lot of folks and played a ton of fests — tell us about the short.
My brother and I wrote Walkentalk as a kind of tribute to Christopher Walken, one of our favorite actors, and in my view, one of the best and most underrated in Hollywood. Walken is one of those guys who is so completely unique that many people can’t help but impersonate him. In 1982, Walken starred with Susan Sarandon in a TV movie directed by Jonathan Demme called “Who Am I This Time?” in which he played an actor who took on the personalities of the characters he played. So Walkentalk is about a guy who is so socially incompetent that his only way of communicating with people is to impersonate the great Walken.
How did you get involved with “My Big Fat Independent Movie”?
I was coordinating an employee film festival at my old studio job and Chris Gore was our guest host. He saw my first short Sway at the festival and we became friends. He had already been working on the script for “My Big Fat Independent Movie,” known then as “Indie Movie” with Adam Schwartz and Yoni Berkovits. The next year I made Walkentalk and after he saw it, he asked me if I’d like to direct it. Sadly for all involved, I said, “Yes.”
Okay, give us the basics, how long did it take to shoot, how much did it cost, blah, blah, blah?
We shot for 18 days, plus one day in Vegas for pickups. The budget was under a million. I’ve been told that if I get more specific than that, I’ll wake up at the bottom of Castaic Lake.
What were some of the challenges in terms of translating all those spoofs into one story?
Most parody films are spoofing a specific group of movies that share common themes (“Airplane!,” Scary Movie, Not Another Teen Movie). The biggest challenge for us was creating a story that would enable us to spoof a wide variety of independent films that thematically have nothing in common, while also poking fun at many of the conventions that have become clichés of indie films.
So, tell us one secret of directing a low budget indie that would impress us.
Eat often, and consume as many B-vitamins as your body can endure. Seriously, I got pneumonia during this shoot and it was probably caused by stress and malnutrition.
You get killed in the movie, right? Have you acted before?
I did a lot of children’s theatre as a kid and continued to study acting in high school and college. At some point I decided that I’d have a better chance at a career in the entertainment business by focusing my attention behind the camera. I still love acting and that background greatly enhances my instincts and my relationship with the actors on the set.
What was it like to work with that cast? Paget? Eric Hoffman? Clint Howard? Pauly Shore? Pete Jones? Uh, who is Pete Jones again?
With over 50 speaking parts, we had the opportunity to work with a lot of talented actors on this movie. Let’s do this in order. Paget Brewster is a great actress and a true professional. She was always eager to go the extra mile for a scene or to help a fellow actor. Eric Hoffman is a diamond in the rough, an untapped comic genius that’ll hit the world like a ton of bricks, mark my words! Clint Howard is one of the busiest actors in the business and also one of the sweetest guys to work with. Clint drove himself to the set in the Palmdale desert and rented his own tuxedo so our wardrobe department wouldn’t have to. Now that’s dedication. If Clint Howard is the busiest actor around, Pauly Shore may be the horniest. He had a friend following him around with a video camera taping him flirting with every girl on the set. But when it came down to business, he stepped in front of the camera and did his thing in one take.
There’s an orgy scene in this movie with Julie Strain, Paget Brewster, the Toxic Avenger, Chris Gore in some bondage gear and a midget… uh, what was that like to direct?
It was… beautiful.
Now this interview is appearing on the Film Threat website which is owned by Chris Gore who wrote and produced the movie — seems like complete self-serving shameless self promotion and complete bullshit — so give us the dirt on Chris!
Last time I checked this business was all about self-serving shameless self-promotion. Every idiot with a website uses the internet to promote themselves and other useless crap that no one cares about. Chris was one of the pioneers of this technique. The competition can only hope to reach Gore’s level of unabashed ego!
Okay, some people love this movie and have called it a classic – and some really hate it, going out of their way to post angry letters on message boards – so what do you have to say to each group?
It amazes me that a movie specifically designed to be stupid and sophomoric could generate such a hullabaloo on the internet. Many avid independent film fans have praised this movie, and others have denounced it, stating that it denigrates movies that many people believe are above parody. I’m glad about any attention the movie gets, good or bad. It means that people are seeing it and talking about it, even if some of the talk is filled with hatred and venom. But that’s what makes America great!
What’s next for you?
I’m working on a couple of new scripts with comedy wunderkind Eric Hoffman, the first of which we’re hoping to shoot sometime next year. I’m also reading scripts and trying to meet with as many production companies as I can leading up to the DVD release of the movie in an effort to build new relationships that could lead to more projects.
“My Big Fat Independent Movie” opens in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Sunset 5, September 30th! For more information, visit the official movie website.