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Todd Solondz on 'Dark Horse' and His Career: 'Expectations work against me.'

Photo of Eric Kohn By Eric Kohn | Indiewire September 14, 2011 at 2:44AM

Ever since "Welcome to the Dollhouse" put Todd Solondz on the map in 1995, he has been considered a unique provocateur, willing to portray angst-riddled outcasts in a sympathetic light while also highlighting their imperfections.
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Dark Horse
Selma Blair in "Dark Horse."
It's been reported that you considered directing a "Charlie's Angels" movie.

There was truth to it. It would have been fun to play with those icons, but a studio head would be fired if they hired me and my movie would make $3 million, not $300 million, because I'm not interested in the kind of movie that is profitable like that.

There was a long gap between "Palindromes" and "Life During Wartime," but it took less time for you to get "Dark Horse" off the ground. Are you feeling more inspired these days?

It's just how financing comes together. It came fast for this. It's not the script writing. It's the money. I thought it was going to happen two years earlier; it was all set to go and then it didn't. We live in a country without any subsidies for filmmakers, unlike Canada. If I went to Canada or France, I could have a career. There's a system to support somebody like me. In the States, how many filmmakers have careers making films outside the studio system? Not many. It's one thing to strike once, maybe twice. But to continue past that isn't really feasible.

Then what's your strategy?

I teach at NYU. I love teaching, thank god, because it gives me security and I have great pleasure doing it. I don't want to have to work on things that don't interest me. There was not much calculation to this career. It wasn't done by design. This is what I write now, and this is what I make. Consequently, you pay a price. It's just very expensive, so who's going to put money into me? I'm one of the millions who will talk about how grim this finance situation is. I don't think it's cyclical at this point; there's going to be a shift. Whatever audience I had 10 years ago has shrunken.

But don't you think you might find new audiences from people who discover your films on DVD?

That's fine. Everyone tells me I should try to write for HBO, do a TV series. I know it's the golden age of TV, etcetera. I know, but the problem is I'm drawn to movies as discrete things. I like the big screen, the dark room. I don't watch movies for pleasure on my computer. That's homework. I go out to the movies and that's a great pleasure for me. When I fell in love with movies in college when Betamax was just beginning. You couldn't have a collection of movies then, the way you had records. While there are obviously so many good things about digital, there was something lost when you no longer had to go to the movie theater.

Did you see the VOD numbers for "Life During Wartime"?

No. My movies, each one has made about half as much as the previous one. "Life During Wartime" averages about half as much as what "Palindromes" made. They just make less and less.

This article is related to: Features, Interviews, Dark Horse






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