In “Silence Is Not Golden,” we are attempting to take a look at some modestly-released films through the eyes of the filmmakers themselves. In this installment, Scott Prendergast was kind enough to answer our questions about Kabluey, released in July 2008 and available on DVD. Here’s a brief look at our thoughts on the film.
Golden Grouches: As writer, director, and star (and I’ve read where you said it wasn’t necessarily easy to convince potential producers that you should take the lead), it would certainly seem like you had significant control over how Kabluey went into the can. Were there any limitations preventing the final cut from being what you hoped for, or was the end result how you envisioned it would be when you first set out on the project?
Scott Prendergast: There were ALL SORTS of limitations preventing the final cut from being what I had hoped for. But I realized that no movie ever lives up to the initial hope/dream/idea. And that’s not always a bad thing.
There are financial limitations (we don’t have enough money to blow up a car), time limitations (we don’t have enough time to shoot all 4 seasons), availability limitations (Zsa Zsa Gabor can’t play the lead).
Then there are what we’ll call “personnel” limitations. Like, the director of photography goes insane and stops taking his medication. Or one of the producers is a maniac and wants to direct the film himself. Or one of the actors is barely hanging onto reality.
These are all generic examples. We had our share of troubles on Kabluey – but you always have troubles. SOMETHING always comes up. And you realize that making a movie is all about DEALING with the problems in a creative way that will not derail your vision for the movie.
And of course the director is usually wrong about something. Like, it’s not actually that charming to have a 5 minute close up of the teddy bear. Or the music he wrote for the film is awful. Or the film is just too long and the test audiences hate it. Or the footage just doesn’t add up to the same story told in the script.
So again – you are working with what you have – and creatively improvising to make something in line with what you had originally hoped for.
Kabluey ended up being about 75% of what I had originally hoped for. But there are so many things in the movie that I LOVE that were not in the script. I was asked to write a few scenes – and I did it begrudgingly – and those scenes turned out fantastic.
It’s all about rolling with the punches and creatively improvising.
GG: May I ask for an example of one of the scenes you added in after finishing the script? And I’m surprised to hear someone could ask you to write additional scenes, it seems like Kabluey is so much your baby. Was it just a matter of a second set of eyes adding some insight and making the movie flow better?
SP: The producers told me that they felt like the kids started liking Salman too quickly – all of a sudden after the birthday party. They wanted the change to be a little more gradual. So I wrote the scene where they are asking Salman if he can fly. Basically the producers said “here’s an issue we have with the script – solve it however you want.” and that’s what I wrote. And I think it turned into one of the best scenes in the film. Also the scene of Lisa walking down the road crying wasn’t added until right before production. I think they were saying something like “she’s not sympathetic enough” and I wanted to add a scene of her walking and thinking – and that worked out really well too.
GG: That sort of brings me to something else I had wanted to ask. Did you ever have any expectations about how large an audience would see the movie, and did that affect any of the creative decisions? As in, were you ever hoping for Kabluey: The Video Game and kids showing up to your house on Halloween wearing big blue costumes, or was it more being happy to have the opportunity to get a good story on film, and who cares if anyone shows up?
SP: I think it’s probably both. Every filmmaker wants their film to be seen as many people as possible. But I wasn’t going to put tits and explosions into the movie just to bring in an audience. The hope is that if you tell a good story and tell it well – people will come.
GG: Would you say people did come? It seems like there can be a step between creating a movie with an interesting story and getting people aware of its existence. How much promotion did you have to do? Or want to do?
SP: Yes we had a great release. The review in the NY TIMES was good enough that the distributors expanded us to 30 cities. And I was very pleased with the DVD release – which got a huge push. It’s my first film, it made it into theaters and is available anywhere now on video. So yes, very happy.
We did a lot of promotion – lots of interviews and articles. And I went to as many openings as I could. It was fun.
GG: You clearly sought out reviews of Kabluey. how does it make you feel to have someone publicly critique your work? And if you had the chance to respond to a specific review, or reviews in general, is there anything you’d say?
SP: It’s odd to have the movie reviewed. I always want to have a conversation with the negative reviews and be like “cmon what are you talking about are you an idiot?” but thankfully we got great reviews. There was one idiot woman who wrote a ridiculous review and I responded to her on rotten tomatoes. You should read the interchange on the Kabluey page on RT. It’s in the comments. I think her name was Prairie Miller. [Ed. Note: You can read Ms. Miller’s review and the Rotten Tomatoes comment thread here.]
GG: I’m stunned that she referenced Daddy Day Care and Desperate Housewives in relation to Kabluey. But as frustrating as it must have been to see a review based largely on a misunderstanding of the facts, I’m happy for you that her opinions seem to be in the distinct minority. And it must have been pretty satisfying to be able to air your grievances with her review publicly. Now that things are winding down with Kabluey, what’s next on the horizon? Can we look forward to another Scott Prendergast written and directed film in the near future, or will it take a few more appearances in Paris Hilton vehicles to pay the bills first?
SP: I have a new movie (written/directed/acted by me) called FRANK and I was also hired to direct someone else’s movie. I’m writing a tv pilot too. And I will not be in any more Paris Hilton movies. I can guarantee that.
We’d like to thank Scott for his time. If you have any suggestions or tips for interviews, please e-mail us at GoldenGrouchesATgmailDOTcom.