Raindance Film Festival – “I love high school movies. Which is terrible because I’m 34”: An Interview With Kes Baxter and Gregory Kirchhoff, Part 2

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In the second half of The Edge’s interview with Raindance favourite Dusky Paradise‘s director and lead actor, Gregory Kirchhoff and Kes Baxter, it seemed inevitable that we’d idle into the realm of chicken impressions, favourite films, and Jake Gyllenhaal…

Part of Jacob’s story is that his parents have died, but you only mention that once in the whole film. Why is that?

G: I was actually asked about that yesterday as well! It’s quite unusual to reveal it that late on in the film too, he only mentions it halfway through. I think I liked the idea of us being shocked in the same way that Zoe is shocked. Because we keep watching it and thinking ‘why are we watching this guy just doing nothing, feeling nothing, what is this?’ and so when he mentions it, I wanted it to hit you in the face. And when that is mentioned, I think there’s a shift in the emotions of the film, because then for the first time we start to understand where all this apathy and disinterest might be coming from. And I really like the suspense leading up to that revelation of why he’s there and I wanted to keep that up for long as possible. I think that’s quite unusual too, if I pitched this to a company or a TV channel in Germany for instance, I think they would have said ‘uh…what is this? We need to know why he’s there, what’s his objective, straight away!’ So I liked the idea of being able to do it exactly as we wanted it, there were no other influences, we could just do our own thing. And I like the idea of ignoring all the rules and experimenting, and I think it has a great effect.

K: I think it also kind of makes sense because in his mind it doesn’t really matter that much, although at the end he figures out that it does actually matter quite a lot. So you go within his mind, eating, sleeping, oh yeah they died like one or two months ago. And it puts you on this big journey with him. I quite like that about him, and about the film.

Were there any other films, or filmmakers, or actors that were big influences on Dusky?

G: Yeah, I like filmmakers that write their own films, I like filmmakers who keep their films compact, and about what they want to say without getting into too many subplots or too much action, and I like when filmmakers are confident enough to keep the story about what it’s supposed to be. Films like Lost in Translation, for instance.

K: For this particular film, I don’t think there were any necessarily. I’ve got actors that I admire a lot, but not –

G: He’s his own favourite actor

K: Yes, I’m my own inspiration. No, but I do love Olivia Coleman, she’s actually on the Raindance judge panel which is amazing. She can be so emotional and so full of humour, and I think that’s beautiful, and she can switch it just like that!

Are there any funny stories from the set you can tell us about?

G: Well there was a really great atmosphere, and we were just having fun the whole time. We were saying at the end that we don’t think we’ll ever have the same experience again, this chemistry and making such a personal film on such a small level. I’ve just done the complete opposite with my second film which had production companies and channels involved, a bigger set and all, so I don’t think we’ll ever have such a small, intimate atmosphere where we’re working with some of our best friends.

K: It felt like making a film with your group of friends and there was this amazing villa that we stayed at, it was super nice.

G: But okay funny –

K: The chicken thing?

The chicken thing?

K: So I’m floating on the airbed in the pool, concentrating on doing nothing, then all of a sudden [makes loud chicken noises, complete with flappy arms]and everyone kept laughing, so I had to do it so many times thinking ‘don’t laugh don’t laugh’ but everytime – I laughed

Gy: The neighbor of the house we were filming at had twenty chickens that we didn’t know about until shooting. So we got there and we soon realized, and soon enough there was a general consensus that we should go and kill these chickens.

K: We didn’t, we didn’t. No animals were harmed during the making.

If you had to choose three favourite films, what would they be?

K: Oh god. All About My Mother probably

We’ve just studied that on my film course at uni!

K: Really? Such a beautiful film. It just hits me so hard, it’s so emotional, so wow. Okay I gotta think now. You say something, I have to think now

G: Okay, so Diner probably, also a debut, Barry Levinson, I really love that. It’s not a film that many people know, it was the first film about nothingness. I really seem to love nothingness apparently. And then I really love Lost In Translation, it’s one of the best films of the 21st Century. And The Graduate as well, I really love that one. I guess that’s a bit of an inspiration for my own film. Okay your turn.

K: Fuck me, I always hate this question. No offence

G: I also love some modern films, like The Social Network

I love Fincher, he’s amazing

G: Yeah! And I love In Bruge

K: That was a great film!

Are there any films coming out soon that you’re looking forward to?

G: Yeah – oh so I forgot to mention that I absolutely love Whiplash

That’s one of my favourites!

G: Same here, I love it, it blew me away. And that’s why I am so excited for La La Land, I can’t wait

K: Oh yeah! Me too! And I love, oh whats-her-face…

Emma Stone?

K: Yes! I want to be best friends with her. She is awesome

G: Damien Chazelle has just got two most awesome people in the world and put them together, it’s crazy. Oh, I’m also looking forward to the new Tom Ford film [Nocturnal Animals] –

K: Oh is there another one?

G: Yeah! I mean I loved A Single Man

 K: Me too! Beautifully made film. The new one’s got Jake Gyllenhaal in it hasn’t it?

Jake Gyllenhaal is literally phenomenal

K: Right?! One of my biggest inspirations. And after Donnie Darko – just wow. Never watch the director’s cut though, never. It’s horrible. It ruins everything about the film.

G: I am having a bit of thriller phase right now. Sick of all the coming-of-age, drama, finding the world shit.

K: I love it, I love high school movies. Which is terrible because I’m 34. But Clueless and Mean Girls – really good films. They’re so good!

Dusky Paradise screened at Raindance Film Festival in London last month.

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Second year Film and English student, self-proclaimed go-to Edge expert on Cloverfield, Fall Out Boy, and Jake Gyllenhaal. Loves mostly those three things.

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