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Interview: Director Charles de Lauzirika talks ‘Crave’

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Over the course of his career, Charles de Lauzirika has had the opportunity to work with many A-list directors, including Ridley Scott and David Lynch. His background is in directing the behind-the-scenes documentaries for features like “Blade Runner,” “Gladiator,” and the cult TV show, “Twin Peaks.” Now, he makes his feature film debut with “Crave,” which releases to limited theaters and VOD on Dec. 6.

In “Crave,” Josh Lawson plays Aiden, a freelance crime photographer who captures some of the most gruesome events with his camera. He has seen some nasty things over the years, and he thinks that there needs to be someone who can get rid of the evil and despicable people in the world. Throughout the film, the audience hears Aiden’s thoughts, and we also see his fantasies about killing these people in vicious fashion.

The Chico Movie Examiner recently conducted an over-the-phone interview with de Lauzirika about “Crave” and what he has in store next. Check out the full interview below.

David Wangberg: The film’s opening quote is, “You look into the mirror, and you realize you’re going to hell.” When you get ready for the day, whether it’s filming or for interviews, what is the one thing you tell yourself before your day starts?

Charles de Lauzirika: Wow! That is a heavy question, and I just woke up, and I’m jet-lagged from being away for six weeks. [laughs] Let me think about that for a second. Honestly, that line – I’ll back into your answer – that line kind of came out from people that I’ve encountered in life that I find to be sort of morally and ethically bankrupt, and I wonder at what point – if ever – did they realize that they’ve crossed the line and gone to the dark side. I’ve always wondered, “Can they look at themselves in the mirror and honestly see a moral and just person?” So, that line is sort of like my observation of those type of people that I’ve met – not many, but there are a few. And that’s where that line came from.

Me, when I look at myself in the mirror, I think, “God, I’m getting old.” [laughs] That’s what I think. It’s like, “Where’d all those gray hairs come from, and what happened to that innocent little boy who wanted to make movies when he was seven years old?”

DW: This is your first feature film, and I know that you’ve done a bunch of behind-the-scenes documentaries for films like “Blade Runner,” “Gladiator,” and as well as the TV series, “Twin Peaks.” Is there another TV show or movie for which you haven’t done a behind-the-scenes documentary that you would like to do in the future?

CDL: Well, yeah. There’s probably quite a few, except they’ve already been done by other people and quite elaborately. I’ll pull a title out of my hat and say “Star Wars,” for instance. I’d love to do “Star Wars,” because I think it hasn’t quite been examined from a very dedicated fan’s point of view – someone who was a kid when it came out in 1977 and had their mind blown and their life changed and could create a really passionate documentary. So far, I think the documentaries have been very handsomely produced and very well made, but they seem very measured and marketed. What I try to do with my documentaries is approach it from an informed geek point of view, where I can tell a story and try to get under the hood of making the film, but do it from the point of view of a passionate follower of that film. There are a lot of those. Honestly, I think I have done a lot of the ones I wanted to do. I mean, “Blade Runner” was obviously the dream project of all of them.

DW: For Josh Lawson’s role, a lot of people know him for his comedy work, such as “The Campaign” and “House of Lies.” Tell me about the process on how he became this socially awkward character. Did he have to seclude himself from the rest of the cast or something that is out of the normal?

CDL: A little bit. I mean, Josh is a very social person. He’s very open, and he’s an entertainer, but he’s also a very serious filmmaker. He’s a writer and director himself. It was kind of like a half and half with him. Where he went serious and sort of semi-method, I asked him early on if he could assume the American accent throughout the course of the shooting – including weekends and off-hours, which he did. On his last day of shooting, when we wrapped with him, and we broke for lunch, he sat across from me, and suddenly, there’s this guy with an Aussie accent talking to me, and I went, “Wait. Who are you?” I didn’t realize that it was Josh for a second, because I hadn’t heard that voice in weeks if not months. That’s pretty much the only in-depth character thing he did, but otherwise, Josh is just a very open, charming guy. He definitely bonded with the crew incredibly well.

DW: His character throughout the film has a sense of humor, and he’s not this dark and depressing figure. What intrigued you to want him to have a sense of humor instead of being a very serious character?

CDL: In the script, I think there’s a dark humor that’s inherent there on the page. I think that Aiden was always meant to have a sarcastic or slightly dark sense of humor. What Josh did, which I was not expecting, was he made him more likable and charming. Originally, I saw Aiden as far more of a misfit and a person who is at odds with the world. And Josh’s version of Aiden is certainly that, but what makes him more interesting is that he’s kind of likable, even though he makes these terrible decisions, and he does these unfortunate things. Because we like Josh’s interpretation of Aiden, we’re now invested in him to the point when things go bad, we’re kind of rooting for him, and we’re feeling kind of uncomfortable rooting for him because of the things he’s doing. If it had been a different tone in the performance, if he had just been like Travis Bickle psycho stalker, I think it would have been easier to disconnect and just watch as an observer whereas now, he’s almost like a friend in a way, and it’s really sad to see where he goes. That’s really what Josh brought to the role; it was that relatability that I hadn’t originally accounted for, and it took me a minute to readjust my vision of his role. Because, I think Aiden is very much half and half me and the original writer, Robert Lawdon. I think Aiden is a mix of us. What Josh did was bring a third party to that mix, and that’s what took me a second to recalibrate my vision for it, but I’m so glad he brought that. (6:20)

DW: I keep on telling people that he’s like Travis Bickle, but he has Dexter Morgan’s quirkiness.

CDL: In the early days, not when we were shooting but afterwards, people were mentioning “Dexter,” and I had never seen an episode of “Dexter” before or during the making of the film. I didn’t see an episode of “Dexter” until probably a year or two after we wrapped shooting, and then I got it a little bit. I think it’s a slightly different tone, but I can see the comparisons even though it was never intentional.

DW: Yeah, and that’s understandable. And with both “Dexter” and “Crave,” we hear their thoughts throughout the film. They’re arguing with themselves, or they’re thinking, “OK. What am I going to do next?” If there’s another character from whom you could hear his or her thoughts, which character would that be? And it could be a fictional person, or it could be a real person.

CDL: Wow! Man, you’re asking really good questions today, and I’m just feeling so not up to the task. [laughs]

Whose thoughts would I like to hear? My ex-girlfriend’s. [laugh] That’s whose thoughts I’d like to hear. I’d like to hear before it was too late. That’s the best I can do. [laughs]

DW: [laughs] I was going to originally make that question to where it was just fictional characters, but then I figured, “OK. I’ll throw in real people, too, just to see what happens.” [laughs]

CDL: That was a curveball. That was really cool. Fictional characters, yeah, I don’t know. That’s a fascinating question; I’ll have to think about that. I’m sorry that I’m not really prepared for that. It’s interesting, because I often think that things would get so much better if we could just understand what the other person was thinking. In many ways, it could probably get worse, because you’d be getting that real uncut honesty, and we might hurt our feelings just being exposed to that uncensored voice. And that’s kind of what I went for in Aiden’s voice and narration. And when he does speak out loud, that’s when you get the pain of it. Therefore, I’m not sure. It’s almost like having x-ray vision. There’s that young boy fantasy of, “Oh, I wish I had x-ray vision, so I could see through girls’ dresses.” And then you realize you’d probably be going beyond that to bone and tissue and blood and organs, and that’s not quite as sexy as what you would imagine in your mind. So, I think that, what you’re talking about, hearing other people’s thoughts, sounds like a great idea until you actually do it, and then you probably wish you didn’t have that power.

DW: Do you think that people who aren’t considered loners like Aiden – those who are normal, socially acceptable people – could have the same thoughts as Aiden?

CDL: Personally, based on the people that I’ve known and spoken with and just knowing myself, I think everybody thinks that way to some degree. Perhaps not as violently or as extreme, but I definitely think everybody has these fantasy conversations and visions in their head of, “If only I could do this to solve this problem.” And sometimes they’re minor problems, or they’re major problems. That’s just the machinery of our brain, basically. That’s how we get through these problems; we’re just imagining solutions, and sometimes those solutions are very methodic, sometimes violent, sometimes sexual, sometimes funny, and that’s kind of what “Crave” is. “Crave,” to me, is that venting of the brain, and, unfortunately in Aiden’s case, it’s not working. He’s contained, and he’s trying to break out. When he finally does, it’s almost too late. If only he had been more measured in his life and not so indulgent and keeping it all in and exploring this world rather than sharing with somebody – maybe it’s because he didn’t have someone to share it with – he might have been better off. But I think we all deal with that in different degrees.

DW: Do you have any other projects you’re doing at the moment?

CDL: Yeah. Well, the whole reason I made “Crave” was to prove that I could direct this other project that I’ve been attached to for a few years. It’s a science fiction drama based on a Phillip K. Dick story called “I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon.” I had been developing that for quite a while, and then Phillip K. Dick’s daughter, Isa Dick Hackett, who runs the film arm of the family’s estate, basically, she suggested that I direct something smaller to prove that I could make this bigger science fiction film. So, that’s where “Crave” came from – out of the necessity to make “I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon.” So, now, we’re back on “I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon.” The script is really great. I’m very happy with the script. We’re getting a really great response so far. So, now, it’s just a matter of getting money together and getting some sort of production up and running for it. And if that needs more time, I’ve got two or three other projects that are smaller that I think I could probably get off the ground next year or so. The goal is to shoot something next year – whether it’s small, medium, or large, I don’t know. Hopefully, it’s “I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon.”

This concludes the interview, but the Chico Movie Examiner would like to thank Charles de Lauzirika for taking the time to talk about “Crave.” Click here for the review of “Crave.”

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