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Interview: Alex Karpovsky On His Two New Films, 'Rubberneck and 'Red Flag, and the Directorial Genius of Lena Dunham

By Mark Lukenbill | Indiewire February 20, 2013 at 10:45AM

Best known as Ray, cynical comedic foil and deflowerer of Zosia Mamet’s Shoshanna on the HBO series “Girls,” Alex Karpovsky is also the writer and director of four feature films and a documentary, whether you knew it or not. On February 19th, Karpovsky the budding auteur will finally get some more widespread attention when Tribeca Film and American Express release his two most recent films, the semi-autobiographical “Curb Your Enthusiasm” inspired comedy “Red Flag,” and the decidedly darker dramatic thriller “Rubberneck.”
2

Moving to “Red Flag"; this is movie that’s sort of the opposite in the sense that it really embraces and is very self-aware of your sort of well-known comic personality. Did you actually film this on the screening tour for your film “Woodpecker?”

Yeah, “Woodpecker” is my second movie. We really did go on a two week tour. All the Q&As in “Red Flag” are real Q&As. All the motels are real motels that we had to stay in, or that were assigned to me on the tour. So it was very much, there were a lot of documentary components that were woven into this narrative story. And those were real documentary components from this real tour that I went on. It’s a great organization that they take these movies, these four or five movies a year, I think, and they put them on a tour of the south. They take these obscure, independent films to audiences that would normally never get exposed to them.  It’s a really neat organization and I tried to make a movie that incorporated elements of the tour.

"Red Flag."
Tribeca Films "Red Flag."
At the same time, that had to have been a pretty draining experience. I feel like the two most time consuming, draining experiences of being a filmmaker are shooting a film and being on a screening tour, and you kind of combined them into one.

It’s kind of interesting. I know what you mean. The tour—It’s a filmmaker by himself, in his car driving five or six hours from venue to venue. You stay at a crappy motel, you present your film, you do a Q&A, you eat crappy food and then you do it again the next day. It just felt like a very lonely thing for me. So half the day would be this really lonely, abysmal spell. So I wanted to bring people along and make something creative out of it to try and quell the loneliness. There was a reason I wanted to do them both at the same time.

Right, might as well make a movie with your downtime.

Right, otherwise these two weeks are just going to be me listening to my iPod in the car, and that’s going to be a waste. And the movie was such a low budget that if this crazy adventure didn’t congeal as a movie, who cares? I have to spend these two weeks traveling anyway, it’s only a few thousand dollars, it’s not the end of the world, so just take the risk. And that kind of allowed me and everyone else to just be loose and open and spontaneous which I hope resonates.

Yeah, definitely. So, if the timeline of the movie matches the events that it’s based on that closely, does that mean you also had to reenact breaking up with your girlfriend immediately after actually breaking up with your girlfriend?

Well, yeah, in real life I really did end a relationship...or I didn’t end it, it ended right before I went on the tour. So that’s another reason I really didn’t want to be by myself during this tour. The last thing I wanted to do was be alone with my own thoughts six hours a day in the car. That was a real thing that precipitated the tour and the filming by a few weeks or months. And yeah, you know, I write what I know and wove that into the story.

Are you at a point where you have a lot of other ideas for movies that your itching to go right out and direct, or are you at a place with “Girls” now where it’s difficult to find the time to do that?

I’m happy to be on “Girls,” certainly, and there’s plenty of time to do other things. We only shoot about five or six months out of the year. And when we do I’m not working every day necessarily. So there’s plenty of time. I would love to continue to both act and direct. I think if I only did one I would be unhappy. If I only acted than I’d feel very anxious and uneasy about the fact that a) I’m not getting enough creative control and expression of my own sensibility and b) I’d be surrendering my fate to other people. I’m not comfortable with letting my future be put in the hands of people that aren’t me. Conversely, if I only directed and didn’t act I think my life wouldn’t be as fun. I really enjoy acting. It’s a lot of fun and spiritually satisfying to just step into someone’s shoes and be silly for a while and then go back to your own life. It’s really healthy for me to take that vacation from who I am. I’d like to be able to do both if I could continue to do both.

Would you ever follow in Lena’s shows and try your hand at working in television?

Maybe. I haven’t really thought about that yet. If an idea comes my way maybe I’ll entertain it but it’s not in the forefront of my mind at the moment.

This article is related to: Alex Karpovsky, Girls, Rubberneck, Red Flag, Interviews, Interviews






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