Jim Mickle returns to Sundance for the second year in a row following his 2013 critical smash We Are What We Are, which also played at Cannes Director's Fortnight prior to its theatrical release this year by eOne. This year he comes to Park City with the film adaptation of Joe R. Lansdale's cult novel of the same name starring Michael C. Hall, and we snagged him for a minute to grill him with our brand new Sundance Speed Dating line of questioning.
ScreenAnarchy: At what age did you know you wanted to be a director?
Jim Mickle: I was 13. I was home sick from school and I saw Army of Darkness and I'd always sort of been in to sloppy B movies. It blew me away. Even though it was a B-movie you could see this artistry and craft behind it. I watched it and ended up watching it four times that day. That summer I watched it probably every day, and I immediately started making movies in my backyard.
If you weren't directing, what would you be doing?
I'd be farming. It's my other weird passion, just being quiet and having solace like that. I'm a sucker for it.
Who's the person that has had the most influence on your or your work?
Linda Moran, my girlfriend and producer. I wouldn't be here without her. Our first film, Mullberry Street she showed us how to do it all.
Is there anyone you aspire to be like, professional or personally?
There's no one person. I have a lot of filmmakers that I admire and look at and love their careers - John Carpenter is one of those people. David Lynch is one of those people. I also love people like Danny Boyle, someone who doesn't belong in one genre, they stretch and challenge themselves to do different things. This film is a step in that direction for us. We've done three horror films and this is really something entirely different.
In three words or less, what is it like to see your film up on the big screen?
If you had $100 million and no restrictions, what would you make with it?
"Girls." (pause) The Luna Brothers comic, not the HBO series.
Would you rather have six months of prep and only 15 days to shoot, or only 15 days of prep and six months to shoot?
I'd rather have six months of prep. We've done fast shoots for the last three films, all about 25 days. And I think the only reason we were able to accomplish that is becuase we had a good deal of prep. This film we struggled a bit becuase we didn't have a lot of prep and it teaches you how valuable that can be.
How do you define success in the marketplace for your film?
I have no idea. I've had three underwhelming distribution experiences, but that being said they've existed and gotten out there and had their own weird lives. It wasn't exactly what I wanted, but it worked. For Cold In July I don't know where it'll fall. That's part of the excitement, wondering what the hell is going to happen with it.
What would be different if you made this movie five years ago?
Well we optioned the book about seven years ago and started writing it then. It's morphed for sure and we've taken some more risks and gotten bolder narratively and stylistically. Five years ago, I'm not sure I would have had the balls to do it. But shooting two other movies and trying new things out gave me the confidence to do it this time.
What did you do the moment you found out your film had been accepted into Sundance?
The day I got the call I was editing and had been getting bombarded with notes from producers. I saw the Los Angeles area code so I turned my phone off and threw it into the corner. I didn't turn it on until later that night and I turned it on to about 20 voicemails from my agent telling me to call Sundance back. I had a terrible day, so that call obviously turned it around.
What was the last mind-blowing film you saw?
When have you felt most satisified with your life?
I don't know if there's an answer to that. Are you ever satisfied with your life? That's what keeps me moving I guess.
If you could have a superpower what would it be?
To be invisible. To observe and not be noticed would be pretty awesome.
If I looked inside your suitcase what would I find?
You wouldn't be able to look into it. They lost my luggage. So you definitely wouldn't find the boxers I've been wearing for three days now.