Director Robinson Devor‘s doc “Zoo” delves into an incident that rampaged through the Internet and tabloids alike. In July, 2005, a man was taken to a hospital, dying from a perforated colon. The cause? Having sex with a horse. According to a Sundance Film Festival description, where the film premiered in January, “although the incident made headlines, ‘Zoo’ is the complete antithesis of what you expect.” The film is not “graphic” or “exploitative.” Most of it takes the form of recreations, but from the point of view of the men… Devor won a special jury prize in 2000 at the Florida Film Festival for “The Woman Chaser” as well as the audience prize for the same film at the SXSW Film Festival that same year (first narrative feature category). In his interview with iW, Devor is perhaps styling himself as something of an enigma (you be the judge)… “Zoo” writer Charles Mudede also comes along for the ride. THINKFilm opens the film in limited release Friday, April 27.
[Check out indieWIRE’s recent Review of “Zoo.”]
Please introduce yourselves…
I’m Robinson Devor. the director of “Zoo.” I’m a full time filmmaker.
And this is Charles Mudede, born in Harare, Zimbabwe. Associate editor of the “The Stranger” [and writer of “Zoo”]
What were the circumstances that lead you to become a filmmaker?
RD: I saw Andy Warhol‘s “Dracula” when I was 16 at the So-No cinema in Norwalk. I was a little too high.
CM: I saw “The Last Emperor” in Harare, Zimbabwe. The Chinese actress eating a flower drove me nuts.
What other creative outlets do you explore?
RD: I tried to get my MFA in poetry but my undergrad GPA was too low. I was in a band in Los Angeles, singing, but I was abysmal.
Did you go to film school?
RD: I was got my MFA in Radio, TV and Film. Radio beckons.
CM: I majored in Literature at Fairhaven College. I became a film critic, and cut my teeth on films nobody would review.
RD: A steady diet of watching good films. And books that offered advise on directing. I also directed some theater in high-school.
CM: I wrote film criticism, like Chabrol. Learning how to make them by dissecting them.
How did the idea for your film come from and evolve?
RD: The incident was in the news in Seattle for several weeks. We drove out to Enumclaw one day in winter. It was beautiful. There was snow. There was a mountain. There was film.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in either developing the project or making and securing distribution for the movie?
RD: It was easier than most. People saw an upside. Getting the money into an account is always a challenge of course. The biggest problem was finding a horse farm to double for the actual location, which was razed.
How did you finance the film?
RD: Private equity with a guarantee or negative pick-up to ensure a sale on delivery of the film.
What are your biggest creative influences?
RD: Francois Ozon.
CM: Vladimir Nabokov. There was a critic who described Nabokov’s work as aesthetism as an escape from the subject. Aesthetisism gets you to the heart of the problem. There is no escape.
What is your definition of “independent film”?
RD/CM: Independent film is making very good cheap wine out of tap water.
What are some of your all-time favorite films, and why? What are some of your recent favorite films?
RD: “Bully,” “Scenes from a Marriage.” Emotional intensity and spare direction.
CM: “Northern Lights,” Climate. Great cinematography and character studies.
What are your interests outside of film?
RD: Trying to climb out of a hole and get healthy.
CM: Thinking about the world spirit.
How do you define success as a filmmaker?
RD: Please let me keep working.
CM: To become bigger in Seattle.