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SXSW Interview: “Artois the Goat” Producer Richard Reininger

SXSW Interview: "Artois the Goat" Producer Richard Reininger

Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of interviews, conducted via email, with directors whose films are screening at the 2009 SXSW Film Festival.

“Artois the Goat”
Directors/ Writers: Cliff Bogart and Kyle Bogart.
Lab technician Virgil Gurdies embarks on an epic quest to craft the greatest goat cheese the world has ever known and reclaim the heart of his beloved Angie. Cast: Mark Scheibmeir, Sydney Andrews, Stephen Taylor Fry, Dan Braverman [Courtesy of SXSW]

“Artois the Goat” will screen in the Narrative Features Competition.

Please introduce yourself …

We were born. We suffered. And no doubt someday we’ll die. In the mean time we’re making movies. We left our home town of Carrollton to attend film school at the University of Texas at Austin. Since then we have sustained our existence with a variety of day jobs, the majority of them requiring nametags.

What were the circumstances that led you to become a filmmaker?

Basically we decided to become filmmakers over the course of one late night conversation between the two of us in the summer of ’02. Cliff had just completed an extremely unsatisfying freshman year at UT as an aerospace engineer, and Kyle was applying to college, wracked with anxiety as to what to study. We had always loved movies, but, to us, the idea of actually MAKING them seemed about as realistic a career option as becoming Spiderman. Our extreme dissatisfaction at the prospect of doing anything else, however, finally hit a breaking point: “Screw it,” we said, “at least we won’t have to take math classes.”

How or what prompted the idea for your film and how did it evolve?

Cliff was working in a cheese shop. Kyle was maintaining a long distance relationship with his girlfriend. So we made a movie wherein the protagonist struggles both to make cheese and maintain a long distance relationship with his girlfriend. Boom.

Please elaborate a bit on your approach to making your film.

Of paramount importance to us was remaining comfortable, and thereby remaining creative, while on set. Our experience in shorts had taught us that many of the most interesting ideas and funniest gags emerged in the moment. This is easy when you’re just goofing around with your friends and a camera. It becomes increasingly difficult as the crew becomes big and impersonal. The pressure can turn a creative mindset into one of execution. As a result, the crew was comprised entirely of a few friends from film school. No shot list or hierarchy. Just a few friends goofing around with a camera.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in developing the project?

Living in Texas, we assumed that goats and picturesque rural locales would be easy to come by. We were wrong. Having literally no money to spend closes a few doors. Compound this dilemma over a film with one hundred and forty scenes, fifty locations in four cities, a plethora of design element, and a crew of less than ten people. We painted, fetched goats, and laid out costumes for months prior to the shoot, and continued every time we were not behind the camera. The film was less of a production than it was a large scale craft project.

How do you define success as a filmmaker, and what are your personal goals as a filmmaker?

Currently the unattainable ideal is to be a self sustaining fulltime filmmaker. There are only so many hours in the day, and as we wrote and developed this film we were also waiting tables and working in a grocery store. When filmmaking and paying the rent are no longer operating in direct opposition to one another, we’ll be content.

What are your future projects?

We are currently developing a project starring Brad Pitt and Zombie Heath Ledger, executive produced by Steven Spielberg’s smarter brother. Check out the feature in next month’s Variety.

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