Today on March 22, Examiner.com had the opportunity to interview "A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night" director Ana Lily Amirpour whose film opened the New Directors/New Films Festival at MoMa this week.
Check out our interview with Ana below:
What inspired the project?
Life, loneliness, music. It's about a vampire. Vampires are the loneliest, I think, and maybe some of the most romantic. I'm definitely into music and romance, even though I think it's kind of f--ed - romance as an ideology, but it's still so irresistible. It's a love story, and kind of like an Iranian fairytale.
How does your personal culture incorporate itself into the film?
I'm Iranian. I'm also American, I was born in England, I grew up in California. So I think I'm a mash-up and I think the film is also really a mash-up. I think that's what's so cool about America, we are such a mash-up ... It's kind of great when you are so many different things because then you don't have to be defined by any one thing. You can notice the stuff that really means something to you and pull from that.
Tell me a little bit about the plot.
It's set in this fictitious ghost town called Bad City, full of pimps, prostitutes and drug addicts. There's a vampire in the town, choosing to eat the most unsavory people, kind of like "Dexter." She tries to pick people who maybe deserve it. Then she meets this one boy and he kind of throws off her whole game. She kind of likes him and maybe finds a some spark in there, something that has been long dead, a long time. It's really a love story.
So tell me the process, when did the idea start in your head and how long did it take you to write the script?
I wrote it very fast, I had this chador from another film that I was doing and I put it on and I felt like a bat. So from that moment, I said, "Oh, this is an Iranian vampire." Then I thought of that character and it grew from there.
When you think about vampires nowadays you think about "Twilight" and those other spinoffs.
I've loved vampires since I was in junior high, and Ann Rice, was my first thing, which is a esoteric, contemplative vampire. They're really about the passing of time and this existential dilemma of boredom to the point of crisis. Vampires are OG, I'm talking about Dracula, Twilight is just something now, and there are so many manifestations, Jarmusch, Bigelow,Coppola, Herzog have done "Vampires." It's a savory, juicy mythical character. I don't think there is a filmmaker that wouldn't want to explore a vampire.
Tell me a little bit about your casting and how you went about it?
I knew all these actors, so that was the dream, and I wrote the script, and thought about them. Sheila was going to be the vampire, Arash this guy I met in Germany was Persian James Dean.
Did you shoot in California primarily?
I shot in a small oil town in Taft, California. It's a really small economically depressed, very cool oil town.
What was your favorite scene to shoot?
I had such a amazing time on set, I'd have to say, the power plant was a really magical scene and the train, when you see the film and you see the train.
What's next for you?
My next film is called the "Bad Batch." It's a cannibal love story, set in a Texan wasteland.
We also spoke with the film's star Sheila Vand.
How did you get involved with the film?
I knew Lily from before. We had done a couple of short films together. She asked me to be her vampire and I couldn’t have been more excited about it.
What did you love about the script?
I loved the complexity of it. I love how much it tells without dialogue, how much it tells visually, that it’s almost more about tone and world than it is about story in some ways and that really excites me. You don’t see that many movies that are as patient as this one.
What did you love about your character?
She’s a lonely romantic who has been living for so long that I think she’s lost a sense of excitement in life and then ends up stumbling upon it again and decides to kind of give in to it. I really like that about her. I like that she’s someone who still has a glimmer of hope.
So how did you get your start in acting?
I studied theatre in college and I kind of did the normal grind from there with acting and auditioning and was lucky enough to have one thing lead to another. It’s worked out for me. I also create some of my own artwork as well.
Where is it? Is it online, your art?
Yeah you can find it online. I did a piece a couple of years ago at the L.A. County Museum of Art and I have another piece that’s up in a gallery in Switzerland right now – a series of photographs.
Are you from California as well?
I am. I was born and raised in California but my parents are from Iran. I’m first generation.