Keith Bearden’s first full-length film, Meet Monica Velour, just came out last week and it is great (a review will be up later this week)! It tells the story of an awkward teen who, after traveling across the country to meet his adult film idol (played to great effect by Kim Cattrall), finds out she’s hit hard times since her heyday.
It’s a quirky, adorable film, and I was lucky enough to get to interview the writer-director. I’ve read lots of interviews before, but this one is definitely one of my favorites. He gives some really great behind-the-scenes stories and talks about working with talent like Cattrall and Keith “Goliath from Gargoyles” David, as well as making a crack or two about the state of today’s movie industry.
Seriously, check it out after the jump, it’s great.
What was it like making your first full-length feature?
Terrifying, fun, frustrating. Lots of things I’m happy with, lots of things I didn’t have control of, a bunch of things like music cues that we didn’t have the money to buy for the final film.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I was a movie critic and journalist, writing for TV and magazines. Made my first short film with friends for 6K, and it played Sundance and won SxSW, Seattle, Montreal, etc. Make commercials in France, where I am considered almost as good as Jerry Lewis. Live in NYC, where only the strong (filmmakers) survive.
Where did you get the idea for the film?
I cast a kid named Dylan Cole in my short film The RAFTMAN’S RAZOR, and he was 17, a virgin, beautiful, wore vintage suits in the summertime and fascinated with weird old pop culture. I didn’t think kids like that even existed in the Facebook age. I also started hearing stories about retired porn stars on hard times, like Ginger Lynn, who was the biggest adult video star of the 80s who has to sell her used underwear on EBay to pay for her sick kid’s medical treatments. I knew there was a story there that people were not telling. One day while stuck in a traffic jam, I started writing on my friends unpaid parking tickets. I kept writing all the way home. A few months later, the script was done.
What was it like working with all-stars like Kim Cattrall and Keith David?
Kim and I rehearsed for months before we started shooting, so by the time we got on set, she had almost turned into Monica. She was tougher, swore a lot, was very self-depreciating—totally unlike the real Kim, who is such a classy lady. It was a shock to see her after the shoot, all thin and nice again.
I was starstruck by Keith David. He’s in one of my favorite movies (John Carpenter’s THE THING) and is this immense man with a booming voice, but he was so nice on set. He told dirty jokes to everyone (I only remember one of the punch lines: “A bulldog eating a jar of mayonnaise”) and did his Nat King Cole impression.
What was it like working with a rising star like Dustin Ingram? His balance of awkward and endearing was one of the film’s high points.
Dustin was an incredibly committed and sweet young guy. He researched his character down to all the movies and music he references. He would go home after shooting and just study the script. I couldn’t ask for a better experience with him.
Just a note: when Tobe freaks out after Monica tells him he needs to go home, all I did was tell him, “You’ve just found the thing you’ve been dreaming of your whole young life. And you can’t have it.” All the tears and hurting himself is totally real. He limped away from set that day.
Did you come up with all the hilarious porn names yourself? Were there any you didn’t get to use?
The first thing I did when I started writing the script was create a biography and filmography for Monica. I think they got all in there, with a couple additions from my producer Gary.
The Star Wars parody was hilarious. Have you given any thought to making a full-length faux porn parody?
In the script, there’s actually a lot more of the Star Wars film—as we cut out of the scene in the final movie, Hands, Dork and Princess LayMe are being hit by Dick Lazer’s Horn Ray and are all about to get down to a 70s style bisexual three-some!
Making the whole film would have been a blast. Moviemaking is so much more fun when you don’t have to worry about the shots, acting, story or sets being good. And we would have been done in 2 days!
Do you have any good on-set stories?
1) When Kim is watching her old movie and eating cheese puffs, I am about two feet away from her, right next to the camera. She was tired and punchy, so she started throwing cheese puffs at me. Then I would throw them back, trying to get them stuck in her cleavage. We kept doing it until the crew yelled at us for ruining otherwise good shots.
2) We filmed the strip club scenes at an actual peeler palace that had a rough reputation. One night a bunch of hillbilly hoodlums buzzed the set, high as kites, and started threatening my crew with knives. The cops eventually chased them away.
3) When Kim gets dumped over in the shopping cart, that’s really her and she got hurt about the 10th take. I told her we could stop, but she told me to keep shooting until I got it right. We used makeup to cover the giant bruise on her arm that she got that day.
What’s next for you?
I’ve got a crazy sweet little movie called GOD HATES KANSAS that I’m raising money on Kickstarter for starting in a couple of weeks. Kim Cattrall and I are planning on making another film together. I don’t have an agent (never have), and nobody knows why. I guess in 2011 if you don’t make films about CGI robots, muscle queens in capes or dudes talking dirty the movie industry doesn’t want anything to do with you.
Do you have a Twitter? Where can people find out what’s new with Keith Bearden?
I just opened a twitter account for the occasion. It’s BeardenKeith.
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions for me as well as making a refreshingly endearing film about one of my favorite subjects. I’ll be keeping an eye out for you in the future!
Thank you, Sean!