Ahead of “The Neon Demon’s” imminent Cannes premiere, The Guardian has published an account account of the film’s shoot last year in Los Angeles. Anyone familiar with Danish auteur Nicolas Winding Refn, whose recent films “Drive” and “Only God Forgives” have made him a polarizing figure in world cinema, won’t be surprised to hear that the director is somewhat eccentric. Still, that doesn’t make these production details any less interesting:
Refn doesn’t yell “Action!” to start a scene, instead preferring “Violence, motherfuckers!”
This isn’t exactly new: On “Drive” he would proclaim, “Let’s fuck.”
Refn had star Elle Fanning watch “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” as preparation.
While shooting the fashion-world horror film, she was reminded more of “The Wizard of Oz.”
Despite not having an ending in advance, “The Neon Demon” was shot sequentially.
“In Hollywood – in fact throughout the film industry – it’s seen as wildly impractical, a waste of money. But Refn has worked that way since his debut back in Copenhagen, 1996’s ‘Pusher.’ To him, it lets the movie evolve as it goes (it helps that his films have ever less dialogue).”
According to Fanning, “movie blood tastes so good.”
“It’s very cough syrupy,” the actress says. “I want to put it on pancakes.”
One of the primary shooting locations is said to be haunted.
“The Paramour Mansion stands behind a wrought-iron gate and a rampart of pine trees at the top of a steep hill. It was built in 1923 for oil heiress Daisy Canfield and silent movie star Antonio Moreno. Ten years later, Canfield drove off a cliff on Mulholland Drive while returning from a party.”
“The Neon Demon” is Refn’s first film about women.
“This is definitely the first film where Nicolas is trying to explore the female universe,” says producer Lene Børglum. “He wants to get into the relationship between women and their psyches.” Fanning agrees: “It’s female driven. The male characters are like the needy girlfriends…this one, it’s not masculine, but it’s not fluffy. It has a hard edge.”
Refn shoots a lot of takes.
“Things take on the feel of a long-haul flight, where you dimly remember a life before this, but it seems increasingly that you’ve only ever been here, stuck in a loop watching Refn watching Lee chasing Bennett.”
He also consulted Fanning to ensure that the dialogue was accurate.
“With dialogue, he’ll ask me, ‘Is this right? Is this what you would say?’ And you say ‘No, Nic, we don’t talk like that. We talk like this.'”
Full story in The Guardian.
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