It's been a while since we came across SEND, a stylish and witty, short film by our friend Peter Vack that introduced us to some of his amazing work. Since then Peter has been busy with roles in Blacklist, Mozart in the Jungle, and indie sensations - I Believe in Unicorns and Fort Tilden.
The world premier of his debut feature film, Assholes, in which he wrote, directed, and stars in -- premiers at SXSW this weekend, we sat down with him to get some of his thoughts on his craft...
When you're writing a screen play at what point do you decide or know you should be the one to direct the work as well?
My desire to direct is what drives me to write screenplays. My writing process is linked to my ideas about how I would execute the film. I often write for people or actors who I am interested in putting on screen. Or, sometimes I will base an entire scene around an aesthetic element like an idea for a piece of set design.
Why do you choose to tell the stories you tell? Is there a message that's dying to get out, or just a need for artistic expression?
I have written screenplays where my intention is to communicate a specific message and I have also written screenplays -- Assholes being one of them – where my focus was not message but the characters and story. The results are different and I don’t know yet which approach I like better.
What was the tipping point for you to decide that you would pursue a career in the film industry?
I have been an actor since I was six years old. I almost don’t remember what made me decide to start acting. My decision to write and direct came much later. My father made independent films and I learned a great deal from observing his process. Watching him was very inspiring. Even so, it took me time to muster enough courage to make my first short. Filmmaking is a risky endeavor. So many elements must come together for a film to succeed. The most difficult part is to move forward boldly in spite of the uncertainty; to invest everything you have, emotionally and creatively, while also accepting the potential for failure.
What movie character do you feel had the best sense of style?
I like how Bruce Willis’s orange tank top matches Mila Jovovich’s hair in the The Fifth Element.
Considering the major political and societal changes that have occurred in our world, where do you think film is headed? Will there be a response through filmmaker's work?
Hopefully every film made under this new administration will be some form of response. This is not to say that every film should be overtly political. Not at all. I hope filmmakers continue to break conventions with ambitious work. If this continues then political statements will be made. It would be nice if a film could change the world for the better. Maybe one will. We need strong points of view. When a film comes from a place of unwavering point of view, then the product might be something that can oppose bigotry or fight fascism.
If you'd like to see a preview of Assholes and contribute via Kickstarter, visit here.