Kim Cattrall and Dustin Ingram in Anchor Bay Films' MEET MONICA VELOUR. Photo Credit: Property of Anchor Bay Films.
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Meet Monica Velour (2010/2011)
Opened: 04/08/2011 Limited
|Sunset 5/LA||04/08/2011 - 04/21/2011||14 days|
|Clearview Chel...||04/08/2011 - 04/21/2011||14 days|
Trailer: Click for trailer
Rated: R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use.
In this irreverent comedy, awkward teenager Tobe (Dustin Ingram) sets off on a road trip to meet Monica Velour (Kim Cattrall), his favorite '80s porn star, at a rare live appearance hundreds of miles away. Instead of the glamorous sexpot portrayed on film, he finds a 49-year-old single mom living in a trailer in rural Indiana, performing at seedy strip clubs to make ends meet. A starry-eyed Tobe, still captivated by his crush, befriends Monica, further complicating her difficult life. Kim Cattrall gives a career-defining performance in this offbeat love story that appeals to the dreamer--and the nerd--in all of us.
For a long time I wanted to make a comedy with a female lead. More specifically, I wanted to make a comedy with a female lead over 40. I know lots of funny older women in real life, and rarely do I see them on the silver screen, let alone carrying a film. So I took this idea, and added to it a number of themes I felt, and continue to feel passionate about, including but not limited to the way our country sees pop culture and the people who create it as disposable, and male fantasy versus female reality in an age that is nearly drowning in sexualized images of women.
Into this mix also went some profound real-life experiences: befriending a charming, oddball 18 year-old virgin (indeed, they still exist), witnessing first-hand the marginalization of sex worker friends and acquaintances in New York City, hearing stories of the often sad lives of starlets (X-rated or otherwise) when society's arbitrary expiration date has come due, and, last but not least, my own trailer park upbringing.
While ultimately a work of imagination, everyone in Meet Monica Velour can be traced to someone real or something actual. And in every moment of the film I have attempted to uncover some truth (through the lens of comedy, of course) about the situation of a woman growing older, the ever-changing landscape of sex and pop culture, how the innocence of youth can temper worldly bitterness (and vice versa), and that risks, pain and folly are part of growing up, even in a culture dead set on cocooning us in mollycoddle.
Finally, I'd be remiss not to mention that I was blessed to work with a talented crew of performers, especially Dustin Ingram and Kim Cattrall, who worked very hard with me to transform these people in my mind and heart into living breathing personas.
-- Keith Bearden, Director
What was the genesis of the film?
The script had been brewing in my mind for a while. I wanted to make a feature to follow up my short film successes, and I had a number of things on my mind. I wanted to explore the uniquely American taboo on intergenerational love or relationships, examine some of the painful awkwardness of growing up and falling in love that is almost never shown in movies, and wanted to showcase the downside of being a sexualized woman in a country that stamps an arbitrary expiration date on female attractiveness. I was on my way back from hiking in upstate NYC with an ex. We were caught in traffic, and listening to a tape of '30s music that my friend had made me years before (yes, she still had only a cassette player in her car). All of a sudden, I started writing, on the backs of any paper that we had in the car, and didn't stop till we got home. The script started there, and about five months later I had a finished first draft. Much of the music on that tape wound up in the final movie.
What was the casting process like?
A number of name actresses wanted to be in the film, and Kim was one of the first ones I met. Honestly, I knew a few of her films, but I don't watch TV so I had never seen ?Sex and the City.? But I knew she did a lot of theatre, which I saw as a very good sign that she was still serious about acting even with her long history of success. We met over Thai food in New York, and we talked about the story, the character, Kim's history, sex, the way women are portrayed in movies, etc. We really hit it off. Before I left I had to drop the bomb. ?Look,? I said, ?you're the best looking 52 year old woman in the country. If you're going to play Monica Velour, I want you to gain lots of weight and I'm going to make you look really bad. I want to blow all that glamour girl crap into tiny little pieces. We have to make people forget all about Samantha Jones.? As I was walking home from that meeting my producer Jordan called me. Kim had immediately called her agent and said she wanted to make the movie with me. Her openness, honesty, work ethic and commitment to the project were the reasons I agreed. After Kim came on board, the buzz on the script was strong and we saw LOTS of very good people in both NY and LA for all the main parts. My approach was this: did they look interesting? Sound good? Would I use their audition in the final film if I had to? Also, I believe a film camera sees inside actors to reveal at least some of their true selves. So, did they as people have something in common with the character I wanted them to play? Keith David had the intelligence of Claude, with an intensity that kept the character away from the ?magical black person? movie stereotype. Dustin Ingram was a Hollywood hip kid with a flashy car and hot girlfriends, but I could see that his ?coolness? was a mask for a lot of age-appropriate insecurities and geeky interests that he could reveal in his portrayal of Tobe.
How long was the shoot?
26 days, and we finished on time!
Where did you shoot the film?
We shot it in Michigan, basically a 30 mile radius around Detroit. Pontiac, Livonia, Farmington Hills, all over.
Was there anything different in how you approached directing a feature as opposed to a short film?
I always approached my shorts like truncated feature films, with lots of layers, and back and front story, so not really. A feature is just a bigger hill to climb, with a slower arc for the story that you and your actors have to keep vital and alive at all moments. For a director, it's just a lot more energy expended, with things to think about and responsibility. It toughens you up quick, or you fail.
What were your biggest challenges during filming?
Every scene and every day of shooting is like being a general leading an army to take another hill. It's always different, always hard, and sometimes you don't ever see the end of it. The big challenge on a small budgeted feature is always time, and you have to prep like crazy, think fast and make decisions. For example, the Tobe and Monica break up scene, one of the best in the movie, we shot in an afternoon, with real tears from both actors. On a Hollywood film, we'd have 3 days to do it, and the option for reshoots. I am very proud that we did good things very quickly. On that schedule with a real crew, it was a challenge to know when to follow that little voice in your head that knows when things are working or not. As shooting went on, our cast and crew got in a good groove, and I became more confident; it became much easier to change lines, blocking, experiment, improv, but that came with time. I see how there is a learning curve for filmmakers, for sure.
How much of this film is steeped in some sense of your own youth, and how much of you is in the lead character of Tobe?
There is a bit of Tobe in me (I love movies from the '70s, Russ Meyer, old pop music), but there is just as much of me in Monica! I think that when you are young, falling in love is really simple, you do it completely, and you are totally oblivious to the reality of the person you've fallen for. That was certainly my experience, as it is Tobe's. A lot of the movie has elements of me and my friends growing up. Pop Pop is a combination of my mother and one of my best friends' (very old) dad. Ronnie's visit is very much like the visits my dad would make early in the AM when he was checking up on my (divorced) mom. My dad spent many years living in a mobile home, so that world is very real to me as well as well. Amanda is a combination of an old girlfriend, a teen I became friends with at a film festival, and a girl I knew in high school who called me up one summer and asked me to take her virginity. When people in your movies are not based in a reality you know as a director or writer or actor, it rings false. Everything in Meet Monica Velour has a basis in fact. Mix reality with imagination, and you have good storytelling.
The film is reminiscent of those classic horndog teen comedies of the 1980s. Were you a fan of any of those films and were you influenced by any of them in making this film?
I am not a huge fan of '80s comedies, but the thing I loved about those movies is an innocence and lack of cynicism. They like their characters and want to have fun with them. Meet Monica Velour is the same. Comedy today seems to stink of nihilism, and I find it unappealing. The movie that most influenced me when thinking about this movie is Werner Herzog's Stroszek from 1977. It's a very weird funny movie about small town oddballs with a wonderful outsider's perspective on America. My movie is probably nothing like that, but it was surely an early inspiration.
This is a very different Kim Cattrall than the one we see as Samantha in "Sex & the City." What do you think will surprise audiences most about her performance in this film and what surprised you the most as a director?
I think people will be most surprised by what an excellent actress Kim is. She's not Samantha, or just a celeb, but an ACTOR. She embodies a character that is nothing like herself, and you believe it 100%. Most actors play a slightly different version of their own personality on screen, and it's rare that someone can disappear into another kind of person entirely. Kim does it, and you've never seen anything like it. As a director, I was most surprised (and delighted) by her total commitment to the character. She gained a lot of weight. She got a really ugly cheap cut and dye job. I told her she was too pretty and wanted her to look bad, and she agreed! She smoked. We went to scary strip clubs for research. She got hurt bad doing her own stunts, and wanted to continue shooting. We filmed in a horrible stinking rotting toxic trailer that was basically rescued from a dump, and she never complained once. I insisted that Monica slouch
(Cattrall normally has regal posture), and she had to see a chiropractor for weeks when shooting was over. She trusted me, and loved this movie, and went all the way for it.
What is your favorite moment or scene in the film?
I love the moments in the movie where you get a totally different experience by watching different actors. Like the scene where Monica becomes very upset about her situation with her daughter while Tobe cooks her breakfast. If you just watch Tobe, it's very awkward and funny. If you watch Monica, it's very sad. That feels like real life to me. I love to mix things up like that.
The main character drives a Wienermobile. Where did that come from and was it in the original script?
Yes, the Wienermobile was part of the movie from the very inception. I instructed the art dept down to the very last detail. I've always loved work trucks with graphics or crazy customizing--it's so wonderfully American and eye-catching. When I was in college I saw an exterminator truck with '20s gangsters painted on the side, and a ?Hit List? that included water bugs, roaches, ants, flies, etc. On top was a giant dead roach on its back. The name of the business was ?The Killers? and their slogan was ?We Don't Control 'Em, We Kill 'Em!? I never forgot it. I've always really loved the unintentional art and humor of stuff like that.
Favorite '80s film and favorite '80s song?
My two favorite '80s movies are John Carpenter's The Thing and the Coen Brothers' Raising Arizona --and I got to work with stars of both films on Meet Monica Velour. Pinch me I'm dreaming!
My favorite '80s music is all the cool electro pop of the time--Yaz, Human League, Depeche Mode, Blancmange, Heaven 17. But you don't hear it in Meet Monica Velour. Maybe my next movie!
Where are you from originally and where do you call home now?
I was born in Middletown, CT., but I live in New York City now.