Tell me about the farm that's featured in the movie.
Well, we inherited this farmhouse from Billy Girdler's source --he had used it for the Three on a Meathook picture. We knew how nice it was to shoot out there. Lee had been out there while Billy was filming his movie. We thought, "this is great," so we rented it for a couple of months.
I went to the Salvation Army with my brother wearing my oldest clothes. I had $26 in cash and I told the man working there that that was all the money I had. The man said I could take anything I wanted, so I went all over that Salvation Army warehouse, loaded up stuff, and took it out to furnish the farmhouse.
Richard Crunkleton's brother Jim came on the set to see what was going on. He was a pilot for Eastern Airlines and in his student days he had been a graphic artist. He had done signs for store windows and stuff to make money. He found out what we were doing and painted the walls with the symbols. I had a book of, you know, nature spirits, like the spirit of the willow, and the spirit of the frog -- the divas -- and I thought, "Now how can we get in trouble doing these?" So I had Jim paint all these nature spirits on the walls.
Those poor little innocent willows, frogs and stuff got that house burned down. Because people then had the idea after we finished with the set that it somehow had been used for something Satanic. Which I'd carefully took great pains to avoid. There was nothing the least bit negative on the walls.
Really? The house was burned down?
Really! The house was desecrated and vandalized and finally burned down. That's how strong fear is. It's the Bible belt around here. You gotta be careful.
So anyway, that's how we got the house. Lee had known about the Meathook picture and had been out there.
Did you help cast the film?
We just ran an ad in the paper and listened to the people who came. We just picked the people we thought would be the best.
Tell me a little about Chuck Rubin's character Aph.
We encouraged people to sort of just go with it. Of course in Aph's case, he just had to memorize all that stuff. We told him just to get into it and to enjoy it. And be Aph. Be sincere. Be wonderful. I think he did do some cute things with the props. He ended up playing with the Dr. Pepper bottles we had used to hold the candles. (laughs) We had VERY LOW BUDGET props.
I wasn't there the Sunday morning when they filmed the scene where Aph takes the candle off of the mantle and drinks out of it. But it must have been one of those moments of inspiration. I think there was a good deal of weed smoked on that set.
Who played Casper? He's great (and adorable to boot).
Casper was a guy named Ele Grigsby. He's a local guy. I thought he was great, too. His voice is so unusual.
Probably my single best memory is the filming of that bathroom scene. It was amazing. We couldn't get it right. I couldn't get Ele to have any reaction. So after a few takes, I decided I was going to have to do something to surprise him. I did actually start taking his pants down. I don't know how far I would have gone with that. I was definitely working on it. (laughs)
And so, he got involved. He wasn't acting! Man, he couldn't do a thing about it because he was tied and all. He was pretty panicky. Of course, any noise on the set would have destroyed the shot. And I was worrying about getting the take because I knew he was reacting awfully well.
The moment after Lee said cut, the place exploded!! I knew this was probably the high point of the movie. That scene really worked.
(Carla assists Ele in the bathroom with his "cramp." You MUST see this - it's hilarious. Real media video clip: 480 KB. Also available as a clear yet large Mpeg file: 5.2 MB.)
What was it like overseeing the production?
It was just nuts. Fortunately, I was only topless for the first couple of days. It was good that we got that done first because I was waiting for Lee to get caught up with deciding camera angles and stuff. And I had plotted out the angles for the first couple of days because he hadn't done anything ahead of time. Did I mention that?
No, what happened?
Oh God. I found out Lee Jones' measure when he came in the day before shooting. He was supposed to come in with a shooting script and a schedule ... and he didn't have any of it. He didn't have a storyboard. He didn't have ANYTHING. He just had the same script he'd gotten two months before. I said to him, "When are you going to do it?" Lee would say, "Oh, I'll take care of it after we eat tonight."
Of course, he never did ANY of it. So I wrote it all. The day before the shoot, we had nothing. Parenthetically I had food poisoning that night. I ate a bad pork chop. And about 7:00 I started throwing up right in the middle of doing the schedule. Between then and when we started shooting the next morning I made the whole shooting schedule and the list of props. I had the continuity taken care of ... and I was about five pounds lighter. (laughs)
It sounds as if you WERE the movie …
I was the only one who was actually working. The actors were all wonderful. They had their lines. They entered into it. They improved. They did great. But as far as the crew went, it was crazy. Just crazy. The crew would do anything Lee Jones would tell them to do. But see, Lee was so very slow that most of the time it was just a matter of waiting for him to decide what to do next. As far as where to set the lights and everything, he was just SO slow.
So I took care of all the props. I did the casting. I did the sets. I did the costumes. I did some of the special effects. Not all of them, just some of them. I did the blood. The blood was jello and food coloring. We were REALLY low budget.
How long did it take to wrap the post-production?
It took a couple months. Bub (Asman) was just really good. He was fast and very thoughtful and very accurate. He got it all done in a remarkably short time. It didn't take long. Lee, Don and I went down to Florida and did the sound together. -- it took about a week to get the music track on. The sound was never done properly. The problem with Lee's politeness -- see Lee is nothing but a sweet person. He's a lovely person. He's one of the nicest people I ever met in my whole life. Bar none. So he would say, "Could you just turn that down a smidge?" He really meant, "TURN THAT SUCKER DOWN!!!!" So the sound guy would turn it down just a smidge, which is why you have all that really loud organ music during Aph's speech.
When and where did it premiere?
Whooo -- ha. Well, we had a premiere here in Louisville so the cast and crew could see it. I was just thrilled that it was out. I didn't expect it to be good. I was just so proud that it was in the can, dammit. You don't see too many projects made in Louisville that actually make it out. So my basic feeling was one of total satisfaction that it was done. "It's done. It's DONE!!" I remember being happy with just that much. Then part of me was embarrassed at how bad it really was. At the same time, I thought it had some redeeming funny bits. On the whole, I was happy. For what we were trying to do, we did all right.