After seeing Splice, a movie that has people squirming in their seats and screaming “oh my god!” in the cinema, you would expect the director of the film Vincenzo Natali to be somewhat mad… but it was quite the contrary. I spoke with Natali over the phone and not only was he incredibly polite and friendly, but he was also quite eloquent in speaking about the graphic nature of the film. For however crazy the story may be, there’s a defiant refinement, dare I say class to the way it was made that makes it stand out from the rest (read full review). And you could tell by the way that Natali spoke about the project, that he has the perfect mixture of charm and insanity to make such an interesting cinematic experience for the big screen.
Find out how he made Splice on his own, the challenges he had to overcome on this 10 year project, and Adrien Brody‘s response to some of the sex scenes during the premiere below…
I keep telling people that this movie takes an ideas and runs with it, dow do you decide how far you’re going to go? And what’s too far for you?
Vincenzo Natali: I think everyone has their own lines, you know. I think the line is adjustable and it changes with the seasons, so to speak. I have a line. I do think the film does push the boundaries of what is acceptable and goes further than perhaps any other film has in this particular zone. I actually tried to do it tastefully and I did show restraint, so no there is a line. I was lucky. When I made the movie, I made it independently. So in essence, I had final cut. It was always my line that was being drawn. It was never anyone else’s. I think that’s why the film got made. I don’t think — even though it’s being released by a major studio, I don’t it would have gotten to the development process without that line being redrawn.
You took on quite a few special effects especially for an independent feature, what was that like?
VN: I didn’t have any grey hair before I started this film. When you make an independent film there’s a finite amount of money available. There’s really no safety net, and yet inevitably an intensive effects movie like this one, you always go over budget. There’s just no helping it. So I had to find ways to remove things from my plans for from the film, in order to stay on budget. That was very tough. The flip side of that is that it inevitably makes the film stronger. It always forces me to be economical as a storyteller, and actually more creative because I have to imply things, rather than show them. It just makes the direction more evocative, and therefore, more artful.
How do you decide what to cut? Does it all come down to budget?
VN: Sometimes if feels like an impossible choice, but invariably there’s wiggle room. Many points in the process of making this film I just thought, I cant cut anything anymore. I just can’t, I don’t know how to do it. And yet, we would find something. And it wouldn’t just be a matter of eliminating a shot, it was, sometimes, about rethinking how we would approach the effect or just tightening the shot, making it a little bit shorter because every frame has a dollar value associated with it. And most importantly, I just had an incredible crew. Bob Munroe was the visual effects supervisor that really deserves all the credit for making this work. He’s a master mind.
You ask a lot of your cast from nudity to physically and emotionally demanding scenes, how did they feel about taking all that on?
VN: They really went with it. They’re clearly sick individuals, completely enjoyed the material. Sarah [Polley], Adrien, and Delphine [Chaneac] were all very courageous. There aren’t very many actors of their stature who would have been prepared to do something like this, but I think what scared them is also what drew them to it. And therefore, they really jumped in with both feet. I did everything I could to make everyone feel comfortable. In the end, there wasn’t much work to be done because they were really, really into it.
The sex scenes were quite explicit, how have you noticed them be received by audiences?
VN: Any kind of love scene is incredibly difficult for the actors; to expose one self, that way, in front of a crew and later in front of an audience. That’s hard. But both Delphine and Adrien are very serious actors. They were really dedicated, and I think they had some fun with it. On some level they had a good time. I think they really enjoyed the fact that this was being done. I think they appreciated that the movie went to this place.
At the premiere, Adrien was sitting behind me and he just loved that scene. He’s like a little boy. He gets so excited and giddy when it comes on in front of an audience because people go crazy. And they go crazy, not just because Clive is doing this, it’s because Adrien Brody is doing it. It’s because it’s somebody that we know and we have, on some level, a connection to a side of this movie and we’re seeing him do this outrageous transgressive thing on-camera. I think it’s a whole combination of things.
With all that said, for me this movie really worked because there were real characters…
VN: Oh yeah. To me that was the reason to make this film. I mean, I always thought of it as creatures films mixed with the relationship story. If I didn’t have the relationship side, I don’t think I would have been interested because I’ve seen the creature movie before, but I haven’t seen the creature film where the relationships where explored to this degree. In a way this film become a psycho-drama. The exact point where, normally in this kind of story, the creature would escape and we panic in the world, in fact the opposite happens.
The music was well-done and well-placed and by someone that’s not very well known yet…
VN: I was very lucky to find Cyrille Aufort, whose a young composer, not well-knwon yet, but I’m quite certain he has a very bright future. In many respects the movie tells me what the score should be. I always dealt with a preconceived motion, and inevitably, once the film is cut I realized that my ideas don’t necessarily jive with what the movie really it and what it wants. It was always a process, but I always, did know that the score had some kind of romantic quality to it, which I think is a bit unusual for a horror film, but it wasappropo this film which is kind of a love triangle, it felt that having a French composer should be a little Eric Satie and to it. I think Cyrille really captured that.
How do you go about picking your projects? What are you looking for next? This seems like such a statement as a film. What’s the next step for you?
VN: Well, you know, it’s just lke falling in love, really. When you make one of these damn things, especially something like Splice, which took well over a decade for me to get made. You’re with it for a long time, and so you have to have a good relationship with your movie. I don’t know how I would get through it. I honestly don’t know how I’d do this if I didn’t care about the film. I don’t think I could. I’m too lazy. I don’t think any human being should have to watch anything as many times as I’ve watched Splice. It’s ungodly how many times you have to watch your own movie.
I don’t know how you do it if you don’t truly care about it. I just feel so lucky. I cannot describe to you how outrageously fortunate I am to have gotten to be able to make this film. It defies all logic. It should have never happened because it is an odd movie. It does all these crazy things, but it’s not, for independent film, it’s not inexpensive either. Dren had a certain dollar value associated with her and it’s just a combination of those two things, to be transgressive and to be expensive. It’s unusual stuff. You just have to be really devoted to it.
Once you’re done with this one, do you just put it behind you? What is the separation process?
VN: I’m done with Splice! I’m over it, I want to do new things.
Something completely different next time? A rom-com?
VN: Yeah. I would like to do something different. The fruit doesn’t fall too far from the tree, but I would like to attempt something different, for sure.
Read our REVIEW for Splice now and check out the film in theaters June 4th!