Deborah Twiss and Todd Morris of "A Gun For Jennifer"
by Patricia Bergeron
"A Gun For Jennifer", the first film from NY’s Deborah Twiss and Todd Morris, was a huge success at Fant-Asia ’97, the action and fantasy
festival held in Montreal. The film was sold-out an hour before the
screening and Montrealers gave it a standing ovation. The feminist crime
drama tells the story of a gang of vigilantes scanning the streets of NY
to castrate rapists and other sex criminals. The film is extremely
violent, but some dark humor allows breathing space between the male
Go-go dancer and actress Deborah Twiss stars in the film and co-wrote
the script with director Todd Morris. With the support of Abel Ferrara
("Ms. 45") and his ex-wife Nancy, the film is likely to become a cult
movie in France. French distributor Action Gitanes has bought the rights
and "A Gun For Jennifer" will make its Parisian debut in October. As for
States-side, the film will be shown at the 4th annual Chicago
Underground Film Festival, Saturday, August 16th at 11:15 pm.
indieWIRE: How did you come up with the story for "A Gun For Jennifer"?
DEBORAH TWISS : I was acting and waitressing in New York, but I had
conflicting hours. The girls convinced me to try topless dancing, which
I really didn’t wanted to do. After 6 months of enduring the abuse and
torture of dancing, I wanted to get some sort of revenge. I wrote a
first draft of the script, but it had too much dialogue (I come from
theater). Todd rewrote it in a cinematographic manner and added the cop
iW : I’ve heard that the film was financed by your dancing money?
DT : No. Actually, a Japanese investor financed part of the movie, but
at the end, a private detective came and we were confronted with a 6
month law-suit. It seems that the investor was not a loan officer, but a
simple accountant. We were able to demonstrate that we were clean, but
it was a horrible process. We ended the film with Todd’s credit cards
and the money I made from dancing. The ironic thing is that the film was
supposed to get me out of dancing, but it actually got me deeper into
it. It was like I had created my own hell.
iW : How did you and Todd meet?
DT : We met in 1990 at a small production company that specialized in
fast-food commercials in NYC. Todd was the studio-manager and I was the
receptionist. We thought working together would allow us to achieve our
goals. I wanted to act, write and produce and Todd wanted to write and
iW : How was Fant-Asia for you two?
DT : It was fantastic! The staff did a really good job. It was a lot of
fun. The show was sold-out an hour before the screening and the audience
TODD MORRIS : People responded so positively. They stood up and
applauded after the screening. They stayed afterward and asked us many
questions. We seem to do very well in French-based audiences. We had a
similar success at Brussells and Cognac festivals.
iW : Do you find it frustrating to be confined to the festival market?
DT: Yes, but there are so many filmmakers in the market these days, so
many independent films! The market is really a buying market. If your
film doesn’t go to Sundance, it’s very difficult to have it distributed.
"A Gun For Jennifer" is not a film for everyone. A lot of people love it,
while very sexist macho men hate it. I guess it makes them fearful. It’s
not in their consciousness to think that women can have that much
aggression towards men.
TM: It’s a shame. "A Gun For Jennifer" is a more angry feminist film than
people are used to. There’s a political correctness movement in America
and people shy away from those sort of films. Men are intimidated by a
film like this, because it’s very aggressive. In all action films,
females are either victims of horrible behavior or helpless babes, while
the man looks for the killer. We twisted the whole thing apart. All the
heroes of the film are female, even the cop character. Distributors are
insecure about a film that pushes too many emotional buttons. One
prominent female distributor in New York loved the film, but she said,
"I will never get another date if I buy this film". I still can’t
believe it! How sad!
iW : Detective Perez is amazing! Where does [the actress] Benja Kay
TM : Actually, it was her first big film! She had done student films
before, but nothing that big. We hope she will get more parts with this
film. She’s truly great.
iW: Do you have a second film in the making?
DT: Yes, it’s called "The Dream Killer". It’s about a female filmmaker who
gets involved with the mafia. Todd is doing the final rewrites and can
tell you about it.
TM: "The Dream Killer" will be more mainstream than "A Gun For Jennifer",
but it will be another dark and twisted film with humor in it.
[Patricia Bergeron is a Quebecois freelance writer based in Montreal.
She writes for Elle-Quebec, Commerce and La Presse.]