EDITOR'S NOTE: This is part of a collection of interviews with the filmmakers from Outfest 2009's "Four In Focus" selection, which features work from four first time directors
Drool, directed by Nancy Kissam
As described by the festival: "'Drool' is part 'Thelma & Louise' and part 'Little Miss Sunshine,' an irreverent dark comedy with delightful performances from bombshells Laura Harring and Jill Marie Jones. With an abusive husband, ungrateful kids and nothing else going for her, Anora's life is rough. Things start looking up when she gets very friendly with her new neighbor, Imogene…until Anora's husband walks in on them and ends up dead in a freak, yet karmically just, accident. The ladies hit the open road with two kids, one body and no plan."
Please introduce yourself…
I'm Nancy Kissam, writer/director of “Drool.” I have a geographic tongue. Feel free to ask me about that when you meet me.
How did you become interested in filmmaking? How has this interest evolved throughout your career?
Well, even though my parents took me to see movies like “Jaws” and “Saturday Night Fever” when I was a kid, I never thought I’d make movies. I wrote plays in New York and just thought I’d do that and live off the 90 dollars a week I’d be lucky to make producing plays. But that got old after the first week and so I moved to L.A. with the money I made temping and a few TV spec scripts in my Jansport backpack.
My first script – Stone – made it into the Outfest Screenwriting Lab in 2005 and I thought “hmm, maybe I’m not bad at this” and then my second script – Drool – won the Slamdance Screenwriting Competition. I only need one more hint – maybe a three picture deal at Paramount – to believe that I’m on the right path.
How did the idea for your film come about? What were you trying to express with it?
The idea germinated when I was falling asleep and had a vision of a ghoulish woman who was tormented by her family so she inherits some money, fakes her own death, gets plastic surgery and then returns to terrorize her family as this new sexy vamp. It was very John Waters. I loved the idea. But then I began writing and it turned into something else so I went with it. I think that’s what you have to do as a writer is be flexible and defer to your subconscious. It always seems to know best.
As far as expressing something, I seem to constantly go back to the theme of the underdog. I really gravitate to stories where some poor schlub is getting kicked in the teeth and something (or someone) helps them pick themselves up and fight back. For instance, “Breaking Away” is still one of my all time favorite movies and when The Cutters win the bike race, I’m sure to sob, every time.
What were the biggest challenges? Artistically? Financially?
With “Drool” probably our biggest challenge was shooting in the south during hurricane season. On our last day, Hurricane “Ike” was moments behind us and we only had exterior shots left. Luckily, everyone was on board and we were going to get those shots even if it meant getting swept up and flown back to L.A. via monsoon. When the wind blows through Laura Harring’s beautiful hair, we weren’t kidding around. That was real. No fans included.
What were some of your influences?
As far as filmmakers, my influences are John Waters, Pedro Almodovar, Paul Thomas Anderson and Alexander Payne. Color, composition, writing. It all amazes me and I can only hope to be in their company one day.
As far as every thing else, I am very influenced by my hilarious friends and family. You gotta be sharp to keep up with that bunch. If I create something that moves them or makes them laugh, then I’ve achieved something tremendous.
What do you feel are some significant challenges that face filmmakers today? Specifically those working with LGBT content?
One of the biggest battles for filmmakers, I think, is the blockbuster movie. After you create an independent film, what seems to be the natural evolution is a blockbuster – according to your agent and/or manager. Of course, we all want to make a living, but we need to decide what that means for us. For instance, do we continue making LGBT/edgier films and hope that brings home a decent paycheck or do we set that aside to write “13 Going on 30.” I think it’s every good filmmaker’s dilemma.
What are you most looking forward to at Outfest?
Parties!! And of course, everyone else’s movies that I haven’t gotten to see yet.