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Meet the 2015 Sundance Filmmakers #24: Sex Is The Monster in Expressionist Horror ‘It Follows’

Meet the 2015 Sundance Filmmakers #24: Sex Is The Monster in Expressionist Horror 'It Follows'

Fresh off the heels of the success of “The Myth of the American Sleepover,” David Robert Mitchell continues to bend genre and boundaries with “It Follows.” The film, which was positively received at Cannes last year, is the story of teenage sex gone terribly awry. Except instead of an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease, 19-year-old Jay contracts… a monster.

What’s your film about, in 140 characters or less?
After a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, 19-year-old Jay finds herself plagued by strange visions and the inescapable sense that someone… or something… is following her.

Now, what’s it REALLY about?

The film has many layers of subtext. (I like to think so, anyway.) I’m very reluctant to explain what it all means. Several people have seen it as an STD parable, but for me it’s much deeper than that. People should just watch the film and see what they feel. My opinion is just one of many.

Tell us briefly about yourself.
I grew up in metro-Detroit and now live in Los Angeles with my wife, Annie. I went to school in Detroit and then Tallahassee. My first feature film was “The Myth of the American Sleepover,” which premiered at SXSW and internationally at Cannes Critics’ Week. It was released by IFC Films in 2011. “It Follows” is my second film, which also premiered at Cannes and will play Sundance very soon. It is being released in the US in 2015 by Radius TWC. I am, and always have been, obsessed with movies. I have every intention of making films for the rest of my life.

What was the biggest challenge in completing this film?
The weather was tough on the cast and crew. We had a lot of very cold nights (and some cold days). That was less than ideal and no fun for anyone. Money was a big obstacle as well. We could have used a little more – though I’m very proud of the film overall.

What do you want audiences at Sundance to take away from your film?
I hope people are either disturbed or entertained. Preferably both.


Are there any films that inspired you?
Too many to name them all. A few of my favorites are “Rear Window,” “Stolen Kisses,” “Forbidden Planet,” “Paris, Texas,” “Blue Velvet,” “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein,” “The Last Picture Show,” and “The Shining.”

What cameras did you shoot on?
Mostly the Arri Alexa. A few shots were done on the Red Epic.


Did you crowdfund?
No, I didn’t. I might try it at some point, but I feel a little strange asking people on the internet for money. We’ll see. Financing films is painful and difficult. I’m certainly open to the idea of crowd-funding, but I have a hunch that it offers its own unique form of pain. I’ll do whatever it takes, though.


Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2015 festival. Click here for more profiles.

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