5 Questions for “D.E.B.S.” director Angela Robinson
by Eugene Hernandez and Brian Brooks
[EDITORS NOTE: indieWIRE spoke with Angela Robinson about “D.E.B.S.” in March of this year; the film was released on DVD last week (June 7th, 2005).]
Angela Robinson managed to live a Sundance dream when her short, “D.E.B.S.” screened at the festival, and then she was given the “green light” make a feature version after her first meeting with a Sony exec. The feature film, which hits screens today from Samuel Goldwyn Films, is a comedy-thriller about a close-knit group of sexy young women in training to become a part of a government elite corp of agents, but their tight bond starts to unravel when a villain they pursue (played by Jordana Brewster) sets her eyes on one member of the team.
Angela Robinson responded to five questions from indieWIRE, by email, revealing her “surreal” experience in that meeting with Sony, and how she communed with a group of witches prior to the film in addition to her latest project, and how she’s convinced “Herbie” is straight.
indieWIRE: Adapting a short film into a feature, with the backing of a major studio, is something that many filmmakers aspire to, and it certainly doesn’t happen very often. How did this come about for your project? When you made the short, did you always intend to try to make it into a feature?
Angela Robinson: I got a grant from an organization called “Power Up” to make the short film. I always intended to make it into a feature, and made sure that I had the feature script ready for when the short film premiered. As it happened, when we go into Sundance, my manager, Larry Kennar, sent the short and the script to Clint Culpepper at Sony. He loved the short and the script, and green-lit on our first meeting together. It was all very surreal, I didn’t really believe him. It was one of those moments you hear about happening, but never really believed would happen to you.
iW: What sort of pressures if any did you face in adapting the film into a feature, given the lesbian storyline… or maybe that element was something that drew Screen Gems to your film?
AR: Screen Gems and Samuel Goldwyn (the film’s distributor) were into the lesbian storyline. They liked the way it was handled and thought it was a fun twist. I think it drew them to the film.
iW: In 1995, you made a short called, “Chickula! Teenage Vampire,” can you tell us a bit more about it, and might you ever consider making that one into a feature as well? Were there other projects that you worked on between 1995 and 2002 when you made the short film, “D.E.B.S.”?
AR: “Chickula! Teenage Vampire” was the first short I made. I made it for my application to N.Y.U. for [the graduate film program]. It was really fun to make, [and] was a mock ’50s horror trailer, in which a lesbian vampire terrorized a small high school. We shot it in two days, and John Hamburg (“Safeman,” “Along Came Polly“) was the D.P. I don’t know if it would hold up as a feature, but never-say-never. I worked on a variety of scripts in between film school and making the short, “D.E.B.S.” Some [were] comic book ideas, and I was hired to work on a T.V. pitch for the Sci Fi Channel called, “Coven.” That was fun — we got to interview a bunch of real witches.
iW: What are some of your favorite films and are there filmmakers whose work influenced your approach to your film?
AR: My favorite film is “Cabaret,” with “All That Jazz” a close second. I was really influenced by Bob Fosse, Spielberg, John Hughes, and more recently, Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, and Robert Rodriguez, plus a lot of T.V. I’m a big “Buffy [the Vampire Slayer]” fan and love Joss Whedon. I kind of “riff” on a lot of genre influences in my work, [and] in “D.E.B.S.” I’m constantly quoting other movies. It’s kind of a “mish-mash” of influences.
iW: You are currently finishing up “Herbie: Fully Loaded,” starring Lindsay Lohan, and based on an existing screenplay. Is there a lesbian storyline in that film? OK, seriously though, what are you working on next?
AR: Nope, no lesbian storyline in “Herbie…” Some people may dispute Herbie’s sexuality, but I maintain he’s straight. Seriously, I’m reading a bunch of stuff, and would like to write my next project. I have a couple of ideas I’m working on, but right now I’m just trying to finish the movie I’m on!