After the making three films, all comedies, director Alex Karpovsky is heading to Tribeca with “Rubberneck,” his first foray into the thriller genre. With his influences for the film ranging from Michael Haneke to Adrian Lyne, he’s modeling himself after good company.
Along with his directorial and co-writing duties on the film, Karpovksy also dabbles in acting and is a primary cast member of “Rubberneck.”
What’s it about?: “Rubberneck is a slow-burning, character-driven psychosexual thriller revolving around a scientific laboratory on the outskirts of Boston.”
Your background?: “I grew up in the suburbs of Boston. Following grad school (where I studied visual ethnography), I devoted an unhealthy amount of time trying to become the next Andy Kaufman. I did a lot of forgettable performance art and misguided theater and ‘alternative comedy’ in my early twenties and the ephemerality of it all began to increasingly tax a constellation of existential molecules in my soul. I initially wanted to make movies because, unlike the other stuff, it allowed me to have fun and express ideas with a relative degree of permanence. It’s done, it’s there in a presentable form, and you can move on.”
On working in a new genre: “”Rubberneck” is my fourth feature, and the first one that isn’t a comedy. I love thrillers – it’s probably my favorite genre of film as a viewer, and I always wanted to make one. Exploring a completely novel cinemabrain for this project was a driving source of enthusiasm, but it also anchored itself as the biggest challenge as well. I can pitch a joke or a comedic scenario to a few trusted friends and if they laugh, I know I at least have a shot a making that work in a movie. Here, there are thousands of shades of gray and I found it very easy to get lost in the gradient. I was lucky enough to make the film with Garth Donovan (co-writer, producer), who is much more thriller savvy than I am. When I felt like I was beginning to drift tonally or that a certain scene didn’t have enough suspense or a dynamic didn’t have enough tension, Garth would usually find the compass.”
What would you like Tribeca audiences to take away from the film?: “I hope audiences come away feeling different than they did 90 minutes earlier. I hope they come away percolating upon the ways certain specific childhood experiences can fundamentally define who you are and what you protect – and all the perverse, muted, tortured and misguided struggles that emanate.”
What specific films influenced you when making this movie?: “Bubble (Steven Soderbergh), Morvern Callar (Lynne Ramsay), Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy), Cache (Michael Haneke), The Piano Teacher (Michael Haneke), Fatal Attraction (Adrian Lyne), and Birth (Jonathan Glazer)”
What do you hope to get out of the Tribeca experience?: “Tribeca is a big festival in a big city. As such, I hope we don’t get lost in the shuffle. Specifically, I’m hoping that folks who appreciate slow-burning , atmospheric, character-driven suspense know about “Rubberneck”. If they then saw it and enjoyed it and told their friends, that would be even better.”
Future projects?: “I’ve written/directed a new feature-length comedy called “Red Flag,” which I hope to premiere in the upcoming months. This Spring I will also be acting in the new HBO comedy series Girls, which I’m very excited about. We have an incredible team on this show and it’s extremely fun to work on. I’ve also played the lead in a few films that will be coming out in the upcoming weeks, including Marvin, Seth and Stanley, Supporting Characters (also premiering at Tribeca), and Almost in Love, which will be opening at the reRun Theater in Brooklyn.”
Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival 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 2012 festival.
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