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Meet the 2013 Sundance Filmmakers #47: Kyle Patrick Alvarez Adapts David Sedaris for the First Time with ‘C.O.G.’

Meet the 2013 Sundance Filmmakers #47: Kyle Patrick Alvarez Adapts David Sedaris for the First Time with 'C.O.G.'

Kyle Patrick Alvarez won the “Someone To Watch” Indie Spirit Award for his 2009 directorial debut “Easier Than Practice,” and now he’s the first person to direct an adaptation of a David Sedaris piece.  The film, “C.O.G.” has debuted in Sundance’s U.S. Dramatic competition.

What It’s About: C.O.G. is based on the David Sedaris story of the same name, and is about a time period when David, in his younger years, spent a few months working as an apple picker in Hood River, Oregon. The story follows his relationship and interactions with a few specific characters; among them, a factory worker and a war vet evangelist.

And So It’s Really About: It’s really about what it’s like to get stuck in a situation and go along with it to the point where you lose yourself and your identity. It’s about this character’s arrogance and pride how that’s eventually stripped away from him, for better or worse. Also, it’s about the intersection between religion and sexuality. Hopefully it’s entertaining above all those things.

What are the challenges of making a movie like this in the current indie climate?   The single biggest challenge was financing. It took almost 2 full years. Once we got the money in place, we were shooting less than a month later. No one was interested in taking it on and we kept on having to cut our budget more and more (which ultimately I was happy to do). I’ve found that financiers don’t want to trust filmmakers with casting, they want to dictate a shortlist you have to choose from. Casting is most of my job, I firmly believe that, and if I can’t make the final choice on who’s in the film, regardless of their ‘value’ or not, then I’m not interested in working with money like that. That sounds controlling, but it’s not. Independent film should be about trust in the team of filmmakers, and I need to find financiers who can trust my call on who are the best actors. If that means it takes more time, then I can live with that.

What previous films impacted this one? There wasn’t one exact film, but I generally kept on thinking of a lot of the indie comedies from the 90s. The early movies from Alexander Payne, Miguel Artera and Todd Solondz, they had this bite to them, they felt kind of dangerous in their subject matter.

What will you expect of Sundance audiences?  I’m hoping they found it funny, but ultimately surprised by how emotional it gets. I hope they leave with a sense of uncertainty about who the character was and how he ends up, but with the sense that he’s changed as a person. Also, I hope they feel satisfied as Sedaris fans, but also feel the movie was as much a part of my identity as a filmmaker as it is originating from his from work.

Indiewire invited Sundance 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 2013 festival.

Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on January 17 for the latest profiles.

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