What it's about: After an unexpected tragedy, Suzanne searches for the true meaning of Christmas during one sad, strange December in suburban Virginia.
What It's Really About: "White Reindeer" is a full-on, non-stop sad Christmas sex comedy. Christmas is my favorite holiday, and I wanted to make a movie that honestly represented everything I love about it. I've seen depressing, weird things happen on December 25th, but I don't think they detract from it's magic. I think they add to it. And at the end of the day, I really, truly believe that it has the power to bring out the best in us - that two people who shouldn't be friends can form a connection because it's that time of the year. I've gotten over myself and made amends with people on Christmas. It was the right thing to do, but I don't think I would have felt that way on the Fourth of July. I love it with all my heart.
I also wanted be faithful to the Christmas movie genre. Just like any other genre, it has rules and limits, and I wanted to work within and expand upon that structure. So, check springtime at the door and come prepared for 82 minutes of a very, very special Yuletide journey!
What's been your path to filmmaking? This is my third feature, following 2009's "Modern Love is Automatic" and 2010's "Vacation!" I grew up in northern Virginia, in the suburbs of Washington, DC, where "White Reindeer" is set. During high school and throughout college I worked at the Video Vault in Alexandria, VA, which was basically film school for me. The store specialized in cult/exploitation, classic Hollywood and Euro art house movies and I wholly credit them with shaping my tastes and style. I went to actual film school at the North Carolina School of the Arts, where I met producer/actress extraordinaire Melodie Sisk, who's made three movies with me. Chad Hartigan, whose "This is Martin Bonner" just won the Best-of-Next award at Sundance was in my class too, along with Aaron Katz, Karrie Crouse, Brendan McFadden, Kern Saxton and too many other cool people to mention. Now I live in Brooklyn, NY with my girlfriend and our cat.
Were there challenges in bringing "White Reindeer" to the screen? It took a while to figure out the size and scope of the project. I had written it and imagined it as a much larger production (but still tiny by most movies' standards.) And for about a year we tried to get it made that way. But it just wasn't coming together and December was quickly approaching. So we decided to bite the bullet and raise the budget through crowd funding, but I didn't want to sacrifice anything in the script - including the large number of locations and cast members. So, we ended up pulling off essentially the same movie for significantly less than we should have.
What's the film that most inspired you? The Hollywood melodramas of Douglas Sirk and the exploitation melodramas of Joe Sarno.
What would you like SXSW audiences to come away with after seeing your film? Some tears, some laughs, some awkward silences, a severe craving for eggnog and candy canes.
What do you have in the works? I'm writing some scripts! But really, who isn't?
Indiewire invited SXSW 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 2013 festival.
Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on March 8 for the latest profiles.