Interview with “Sisters” director Douglas Buck, Part 2

Carey: How hard is it for you as an American who came from a city (New York) full of filmmakers to move to Montreal and get backing for films?

Douglas: I feel I still work out of the States and like right now I'm trying to get money from France. Whether I'm in Montreal or New York it's the same thing. Fortunately the world is a very open place you can contact anyone.

Carey: So I read that you just bought a house here in Montreal.

Douglas: It's not a house, actually it's a condo in the Plateau area.

Carey: So you are another Montrealer living in a condo

Douglas: Yeah. I'm not moving in until February 1st, but I'm happy to have it.

Carey: Mortgage instead of rent.

Douglas: We'll see how that works out. Being a filmmaker. We'll see when the next job happens.

Carey: Are you working on anything now?

Douglas: Yeah, I have a project. Actually, a couple of different projects. One of them is based on a Clive Barker short story. He gave me the rights to it to try develop it over a 2 year period.

Carey: You don't get small people's films to do, do you? Brian De Palma. Clive Barker.

Douglas: Well, it's just working out that way. For better or worse. Especially in case of Brian De Palma you're up against a sort of icon in cinema, but in the case of Clive Barker at least it's a short story and it's not another film I'm competing with. I'm writing that with Karim Hussain, who's done a film in the festival called "Belle Bete" (The Beautiful Beast).

Carey: Did you meet him here because it is such a small film community in Quebec.

Douglas: I met him about 7 or 8 years ago when he used to be a programmer for the Montreal Fantasia Film Festival. He programmed some of my earlier work and we became friends over that. We just recently decided to write together. Especially since he's in Montreal and I'm in Montreal.

Carey: How do your working styles mesh?

Douglas: Well, it's an interesting thing when you try to write with someone. Especially when it's with a writer/director like Karim. It's kinda where your heart lies and how it's gonna work out. It's good because Karim was hired as a writer and he seems to really understand that he is not the director of the film; he is the writer. He's brought a passion to the project and he seems equally enthused, but he really understands that as the director I really get final say. But at the same time, it's really just an honest exchange of ideas. You go with the best ideas and generally it's not an issue. But sometimes it can happen that he really likes his idea and I really like my idea and it's like, well, we're gonna go my way.

Carey: So you tell him you're the boss?

Douglas: But that rarely happens. We're kinda loose like that. We're making so many compromises so we're finding our mutual choice and mutual decisions. The occasional time it happens, it's so rare, it doesn't feel like

Carey: I found it interesting that you mentioned that he is a writer/director. Do you not see yourself as a writer because I know you've written your screenplays for what you've done so far. Do you see yourself as a writer?

Douglas: No, I do see myself as a writer. I was just saying that instead of just being just a writer, he's a writer/director. I mean I do see myself as a writer, but I've found in short films or shorter pieces I'm much better off writing on my own. But when it comes to doing longer features because there's so many elements and they're so complex I find it so much more satisfying to work with somebody else and bounce ideas off of them. I do equal amounts of writing whether it's with John Freitas or with Karim I do an equal amount. It depends who's on the keyboard typing away. So I do see myself as a writer.

Carey: What kind of filmmaker do you see yourself as? I see you sorta typecast as a horror director, but I don't really see your films as horror.

Douglas: Yeah, I'm adverse to that label of being a horror filmmaker because essentially what that means in that commercial cinema of today is sorta mindless and a cavalier use of extreme violence. Not that I'm against using extreme violence or brutal imagery but the presentation of that in horror films seems to me seems to cater to the lowest common denominator today. The stories don't have a lot to say. I just say that what I'm interested in presenting is ideas and themes through extreme and often graphic imagery. My ultimate goal is to have a career like someone like David Cronenberg. Or David Lynch.

Carey: They definitely make films that make you think and affect you.

Douglas: And they don't work within genres.

Carey: But you're not opposed to coming to something like Fantasia?

Douglas: I love horror. I enjoy watching horror movies. So no not at all. The horror fan base has been very good to me. Fantasia has been really good to my films, ya know. So I'd love them to always love my work. Maybe they will maybe they won't. One of the films I'd like to do, maybe in the near future is a film that has no violence at all. It's really a sad child story and that's one of the one's I wanna do. Maybe it's thematically linked to what I've done before but without any violence. Or any overt graphic literal violence. Maybe Fantasia wouldn't show that film.

Carey: I don't know I say a William H. Macy film at Fantasia this year…

Douglas: Edmond

Carey: Yeah, and it only had one graphic violent scene in it. Are you very hands-on as a director? Do you produce, edit, etc.?

Douglas: Certainly my first film I produced, wrote, directed, edited. And I would have to say that I had a big hand in editing this film. On my next film I would like to be the sole editor again. I want to go back to that. As an independent filmmaker you have to be a part of all of it because no one will push your film forward like you will. I think almost any independent director will tell you that. And I have to say that as long as I remain an independent director and unless a great studio film comes along that I really believe in and could get behind…

Carey: If they threw a lot of money at you would you do The Grudge 3?

Douglas: Well, no, I really wouldn't do that. I mean I actually considered doing "Children of the Corn 7" which had a lot of money but it had a good idea. I though I could be the director who made the one good "Children of the Corn" film. So you never know. In general, I would resist the idea of doing a movie because they throw money at me. But I would not be against the idea of doing a big budget studio film if the ideas made sense to me. Even then I'm very suspect. It was a painful enough process to do "Sisters" where there were 3 or 4 voices; if it got to the point where there were 20 voices I would kill someone or myself. Have some terribly violent reaction to the whole process. I don't know. I can't really answer it definitively.

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