In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it.
Bag Boy Lover Boy has its Philadelphia premiere on Sunday April 19 as part of the Cinedelphia Film Festival. Event info and tickets here. Cinedelphia caught up with writer/director Andrés Torres before the Philadelphia premier of Bag Boy Lover Boy.
Cinedelphia: First and foremost, congratulations on winning Most Effectively Offensive film at the Boston Underground Film Festival:
Andrés Torres: (Laughs) Thank you. Everyone on the team was extremely satisfied. I think it’s one of, you know, the best… out of some of the recognition we’ve received, that’s the best title.
C: Have you received any other awards that are notable?
AT: We have. John got best actor in New York at this New York horror film festival. Best director in that festival as well. If you want the list, I would have to ask the producer. I’m terrible, man. (Laughs) I mean, I remember some of the festivals I attended but then I stopped cuz I got busy again. I mean everything has been really just good. A good amount of recognition. We’re just happy with whatever we get!
C: I feel like having so many accolades that you can’t remember them is a good problem to have! So you mention John Wachter, your star. I presume you knew him prior to making Bag Boy Lover Boy?
AT: I did. I knew him through film school. I met him there and I always thought we were good friends and … he’s just somebody that when you meet him, he’s the nicest guy and he just has a presence in the room. If we went out partying, if we went out anywhere, he strikes up conversations with everyone. He’s a really fun guy to be around and right after I met him in film school, I always thought I wanted to use him for a project, and eventually a lot of people started using him for short films. He got a job in Boardwalk Empire as background, you know, like one of those extras. He did a couple commercials. A lot of people related to the school were using him as an actor. That was something he was quite skilled for. He just sticks out, you know?
C: For a movie that has such a unique subject matter, I wonder if it’s difficult to obtain funding?
AT: (Laughs) Oh yeah, nobody gives a damn. Right now we’re trying to put together another one and when you’re calling for money, nobody gives a damn. It falls on deaf ears.
C: Does the content of the movie help or hurt that sort of thing?
AT: Well, after Bag Boy, we’ve been getting little offers here and there. Doors opening that are interesting. Actually, some have been amazing opportunities. I don’t think the content is damaging it. I think for me now it’s easier to reach out to people and get them to pay attention to another project. I think the horror community is kind of a different niche. They like this stuff.
C: In terms of production, did you face any limitations that ended up changing the movie for the better?
AT: Yeah, all sorts of limitations. I think the best way of expressing this movie is that it’s kind of a punk concert of people I knew who work well together The producer had to tolerate all sorts of crazy situations. He put together the paperwork fast. He put together the right elements to crest an atmosphere where we could do our craziness. I mean shooting is like a blur. So much stuff was going on. Actors bailing on us.
C: They’re crazy to bail on that!
AT: Well, like you said when they hear the script they’re like “what is this trash?” They shy away. They wanna do Justin Bieber background work (laughs). It’s surprising to see how prude and how many limitations the actors you encounter have. “I won’t do unmotivated nudity” and I was like “dude, your body is your instrument. This is a film that we consider serious and you’re telling me about what I can and can’t do? Please, go be an accountant! Go work in an office and look at paperwork and be in a super safe environment where you maintain your purity and your self-image. Maybe you shouldn’t be in this business!”
C: It makes me happy to hear you say that. I work in comedy, and I’m always shocked at how quick some folks are to take offense to something without regarding context or giving it a fair shake.
AT: I think you’re exactly right. With comedy, you touch people in their nerves and they just flip out. They just want elevator music that they’re comfortable with, jokes that are like “oh I dropped a beer on the ground”. You know, lame ass stuff.
C: Slipped on a banana peel.
AT: Exactly man. Pie on the face. You can’t say anything with that. And then you’re nuts if you do something slightly out of the ordinary.
C: The format of Bag Boy Lover Boy has been done to great success even in a more mainstream format. I saw a lot of parallels in Albert to Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver.
AT: Yes that is very valid.
C: Now would you call that film an influence?
AT: I am a huge fan of Taxi Driver, but I wasn’t thinking … for example a lot of people were thinking that this was like Abel Fererra. I think I accidentally once saw one of his films. I watch a lot of films but I don’t remember names. I’m terrible. When I go to these festivals and people start telling me these references I don’t know shit (laughs)
C: Maybe you’ll become a reference, then you won’t even have to worry about it.
AT: Oh man I hope. I really love doing this and I’ll do everything I can. I based my whole life around this and I wanna be serious, you know? Like at the time we were shooting Bag Boy, I had to rent a camera rental house and I thought it would help me, but it ended up distracting me from the film. Working on the camera but not working with the camera. Get what I mean?
A lot of the feeling of anger that I think people are receiving in Bag Boy comes from the frustration I had with all sorts of bozos that wasted time and just use you as a pawn. They’re all “winners” and there’s no “losers”. You ask anyone and they have a plan and they’re gonna make it big and it’s not true, man! So many times I sat in our little rental house dreaming of making a film and everybody’s talking “yeah let’s do it” and no one does anything and it’s all just talk talk talk. There’s something happening where we normalize the situation where creative people are just being used and replaced in the most disposable way. Maybe that’s always been there in New York or here in LA, just people obsessing over the idea of working for crap and not getting any sort of benefit. A basic rule of business, right, if you and me make a business, I want you to profit from it, and I want to profit from it. And then we’re both happy ’cause we’ve aligned our interests. That’s a basic rule, and some people just put up with bullshit. “Oh good job, let me buy you a coffee for your two weeks in the jungle”
C: A lot of show biz power people think talent will bend over backwards for credit, and it seems a lot of people are willing to and it’s a shame. It pleases me that you’re making a movie and can perhaps buck that trend.
AT: Yeah, you know I really try not to engage in situations where I’m forced to do that to people. I’ve done that where there’s a day player and you don’t pay him, and I feel bad man. I don’t wanna give you just footage. This is your career man. And then they give up! They give up! And here just not getting any money. They end up becoming something else, even if they have talent. But that’s the world, what are we gonna do about it?
C: Well you’re taking steps in the right direction it seems. The them of this year’s film festival is “Outsider Art”. Does that term appropriately describe what you are doing?
AT: Outsider art? Cuz I’m foreign?
C: No no, I mean like “not mainstream” or really however you take it.
AT: (Laughs) Ohhhhh I see what you mean. I do think it’s a privilege to not be in mainstream and not be used, you know? I try to keep my crews bare minimum. I like being considered outside of … you know. I mean, how many good movies have you seen coming out? They’re bringing out all of these action movies that are just money makers. And they can sell them all over the world right? I mean from what I understand. They’ve stopped making films that have good, in my opinion, content in that upper world; in that upper area of movie making. I don’t wanna be part of that ever. Ever in my life.
C: If a hot dog vendor dropped your hot dog on the floor and then put it back on the grill, would you eat it?
AT: Ummmm. I think I would, man.
C: You’re not alone, I would eat it too.
AT: Yeah! Yeah! (Laughs) I guess it’s just in our genes, man! I don’t get scared that easily.
C: You should make a sequel that opens on the hot dog that nobody claimed and just take the story from there.
AT: Great idea. Let’s write that! I think what I like most about this movie is people love it or hate it. There’s no middle ground. It’s like that hot dog. You either eat it or you don’t.