SPRING: A Conversation In Two Parts. Part Two: Catacombs, Cats And Mythological Dating

Editor, News; Toronto, Canada (@Mack_SAnarchy)
SPRING: A Conversation In Two Parts. Part Two: Catacombs, Cats And Mythological Dating
As we continue along in our conversation with Spring filmmakers Aaron Moorehead and Justin Benson we broach on some spoiler territory. I do try to keep it as ambivalent as possible because what the guys have to say about their film is so damn interesting. 

Once you have seen Spring you can connect the dots and fill in the blanks yourself.

ScreenAnarchy: About your creature. We wanted to know what the influences were, on the transformations and stuff.

Aaron - I'll tell you what was and wasn't. When we first started we watched, through a lot of googling, we watched every transformation scene we could find, just see how they did it. Just to make sure, to see what the pitfalls were, to see whether doing nowadays. Something is recent as Hemlock Grove, which had a pretty fucking gnarly werewolf transformation. And then the older stuff like American Werewolf in London of course, the gold standard. And actually, if you watch that it's a miracle of practical effects of but I won't say that if you put that in film nowadays people wouldn't be like, "That's faaake". There's pitfalls to be looked at there. It was less to say how to create our monster and just to watch how transformations are handled. Whether we wanted to do that or not we just want to make sure we've done our homework. Influence wise I will let Justin take that one

Justin - (Spoiler Free Version) That idea came about just thinking about, for one we never invent new monsters anymore in cinema, it is very rare. It doesn't really happen. We just revisit Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies. Sometimes we'll craft in tentacle looking things. We never really go beyond that. So there's that ambition to create a new monster and to start a new mythology. And all the best monsters, whether it's Dracula, or Frankenstein, or whatever, the reason why we remember them, why they've been repeated over and over again, reason why they're classic monsters, because the ways by which these monsters operate resonate with our humanity.

(The ways that our monster in Spring is the monster), all those things, seem like a very human resonance to it. And it makes sense given modern-day thought. We accept Vampires. The way they operate. We know from the time we're children we understand that a Vampire drinks blood and thus it remains immortal. That doesn't really make sense beyond that. We know that drinking does not to keep us immortal. Frankenstein. Sewing bunch of that body parts together and applying electricity to it. we know that's not going to turn the on switch on a bunch of cadavers sewn together.

In the script when you see the transformations (of our monster in Spring) they were very intentionally... For example, the first transformation we see? That is intentionally supposed to mislead the audience think that they are a (Spoiler). The next one is supposed to mislead the audience to believe that they're a (Spoiler). Then the (Spoiler) and all that. When their body was going haywire during (Spoiler), they are turning into things from our evolutionary past, or presumably are part of our evolutionary past. Things that exist in Nature. Which is really nice because when you're shown the creature effects they're all nature-based which in theory will have a psychological impact with the audience. For example why the reason why people say the  Xenomorph is still the scariest monster of all-time because it looks like something that Nature is capable of creating. It looks like a biological construct and an anatomy we all know. Whether it's the look of the backbone or the fact that it starts out as parasitic, with the facehugger. These are all things that we recognize in Nature. So in theory that's why it works so well on the audience, giving them the heebie-jeebies.

And in the script, when you finally see their full transformation, that in the script it is described as an Evolutionary Frankenstein. When your kid, and you're studying evolution first time in eighth grade science class? And they show you this really simplified diagram from like single cell organisms, up to like really basic fish, and up to amphibians growing legs and going on land. It goes up to reptiles, then something else, something else, something else, and eventually you're a primate. It was that! You see them in the full transformation and a full shot of them it is like you stitched together all of these little parts of your evolutionary diagram. The Evolutionary Frankenstein.

(Long pause as I have process what Justin just threw down for me)

A - You look like your mind got blown there.

T - I was a chemistry guy. I wish I knew what the chart looks like but an Evolutionary Frankenstein is kind of freaking me out right now.

Next question! If you date any mythological creature without any stigma attached to it, what would will be?

A - Oh. The thing from Thale. Basically that girl with the tail. The naked girl with the tail. For sure. That girl's hot. Actually, I think she's just an actress in real life. I think I just found her hot

J - No no no, she's real.

A - She's a real mythological creature?

J - Scandinavian. I've talked to people from Sweden who said that's real.

A - Are mythological creatures by definition not real?

J - No, but I have a better answer than that. You know in Coppola's Dracula? He calls it Bram Stroker's Dracula. You know the three sisters that live in Dracula's Castle? One of those was played by Monica Bellucci. Them! I would think those three and one of them is Monica Bellucci. Officially.

A -  Well I would say the Scandinavian girl is right up there.

T - Okay. That's fine.

J - That sounded like that's NOT fine. Well "Okay that's fine", we don't buy it. Are you going to say the girl from Twilight?

T - No, what? Kristen Stewart? Pffft. No.

J - Dude wait, she's good-looking, let her be. I'm not sure if it's legal to say Twilight One. She's past 18 by the sequels. You just have to be careful with your answer.

T - What about Medusa?

J - Why Medusa?

T - I don't know. Something about the snakes. Then that then seems very phallic and that seems weird. No forget it. Maybe if I wore blindfold or something.

A - That is a long, long hypothetical.

J - So you're saying you would do bondage with Medusa so you could wear a blindfold? That's what you said.

A - That's what you said.

T - Clearly I haven't thought this out. I didn't think of answers for my own questions.

J - Well shame on you.

T - Here I am thinking I'll get these guys talking, to give answers and I get off Scott free by not having to commit to anything.

A - Uh uh. Not today.

J - I got one more. I think Drusilla from Buffy the Vampire Slayer's really hot. It is a really obscure character but I think she's really attractive.

A - Hang on. Let me look her up. How do you spell it?

J - Look up Drusilla and Spike. Joss Whedon described them as the Sid and Nancy of the vampire set.

A - Okay. Drucilla. Spike. Images. Yeah. I'm into that.

J - Again, I just think that girl's hot. Provided that they always look like that, that mythological creature always looks like that girl.

A - I'm into that. Looks like that girl. She always looks like that when she's 300 years old.

T - You'll get more. They are making a second one, a second Thale.

A - Ooo-ooh. I'm into that too.

T - You guys have had the great fortune of being able to tour with both your films all around the world. Where is the most romantic place on the planet?

A - I'm going to go ahead and say that Paris is still truly lives up to its name of being the most romantic place on the planet. Is that about right Justin?

J - Yeah it still is. You can walk around, in the year 2015, walk around Paris at 2, 3, 4 in the morning, between three and six in the morning and have it all to yourself. Just empty streets of Paris, by yourself, checking it out, walking around.

A - That's just impossibly charming.

J - I think that Paris just has it still.

A - Where else? Romantic? I will say the city that we shot in. That is a place I will take somebody to. like I would take someone on a honeymoon or something.

J - Estonia?

A - I love Estonia but I don't find particularly romantic. But I do love it.

J - Is Neuchâtel romantic?

A - Neuchâtel Switzerland is pretty romantic.

J - The festival NIFFF, Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival, to have this tiny charming little Swiss town. It's really European.

T - Cool.

A - How about you?

T - I've not been able to do much traveling at all, so I don't know. When I was down at Morbido in Patzcuaro, that city virtually shuts down at maybe 10 o'clock at night. And you're walking through this sort of colonial era, small Mexican town. You can't go back there anymore because unfortunately the cartel are taking over that area. But you're walking through the cobblestone streets, everything's nice quiet, everything looks the same. There is a really nice, beautiful city center. Might of been nice to walk around with somebody at that point. Nice and quiet.

A - That's cool.

T - Or just walk the seawall in Vancouver. Looking out for joggers.

A - I like your answer.

T - "Hey honey here's this really nice- Jogger! Bicyclist! Rollerblader! Do Rollerbladers still exist!?!"

A - I love the idea somebody getting down on one knee and getting hit by a rollerblader before the pop the question.

T - "You are my light. You are my- Aaaugh! Son of a gun!"

Answer this you want. We're talking about uncovering dark secrets Ethan will do that throughout the film were not giving that way the darkest secret you found out about someone you are seeing did you stick around after

A - I've had two girlfriends ever and neither of them had dark secrets. They were just cool people. I don't know yeah I don't think I've ever uncovered a secret and outside all right. If I ever discovered something about something about someone something already knew. That's not a PC answer is truly and I cannot think of anything.

J - Yeah, nothing like dark. I don't understand why I should feel during Almost Famous... that I've never gotten that dark before. What I'm saying is I never dated a murderer.

A - Oh my God. you're all about all this Almost Famous shit. I'm just kidding I love that movie. Oh my God you won't shut up about Almost Famous.

T - He just keeps going on and on and on.

A - Almost Famous again. Jesus, dude.

T - Just drop it.

A - Just a fucking movie. Oh my God.

T- Here's one you will like. Chris Palcko (rapper Cage) was in Spring and if you found out (another rapper) Stitches was a fan of your movies would you write a role for in one of your films?

J - Yes!

A - Yes!

J - I'm not joking.

A - I didn't even consider that he's an option in my life until now but that's going to have to happen. Immediately.

J - This is actually, that said it's actually true. If we had something for him we would meet with them but maybe he is actually out of his goddamn mind. Even then we would probably try to figure it out. How you bottle Stitches and get up in your celluloid?

But all joking aside, what Chris does as an hip-hop musician he's in some ways created a character for himself. He's actually a really smart, really nice, really impressive guy. He is an artist. He says these extreme things in his songs. It is not up to us to say whether how sincere or not that stuff and how much of that is an alter ego that he creates to create this art form. Part of the charm of it is the extremity of it. But not knowing Stitches a differentiation must be made. We know Chris to be an amazing artist and performer whether it's as a hip hop musician, or an actor or whatever it is. And he's very thoughtful about it, there's a lot that goes into it. We can't confirm that for Stitches. We're not saying that he's not, but we don't know. We don't know. What an interesting guy to look at though.

T- I had to ask that because I know you guys showed us the video during lunch when we were heading out to Niagara. I just can't get it out of my head sometimes.

A - Love hearing that, so much.

J - Aaron keeps threatening do a version of Resolution where when they find the 8mm and play it and they're saying, "Oh my God what is this?" He's going to go through and re-composite the projections in the videos so that they're always watching, they're just finding videos of Stitches

T - Brick in yo face!

J - Brick in yo face. Every time it's Brick in yo face. The 8mm. The VHS. But is the same scene otherwise, they just react, "They're all my God" and Chris's like "That's dog shit. A kid could've left that. Kids are just fucking with you with their freaked out- Why people keep bringing this Brick in yo face?"

T - I love selling blow! The strobes and the guy flinging the brick.

A - He's perfect. There's nothing wrong with that, he's perfect.

T - I have to ask because I saw this on one of your profiles the other day. Who is Pancake Bunzo?

J - Yeah. How cool is this? So Robert from the Houston Drafthouse, the one in northern Houston. He runs something like that's like a miniature Butt-Numb-A-Thon called The Hullabaloo. This was the second year and they had a secret screening of Spring and we were flying over from Miami Film Festival back home. And we realize they were having that. Let's just stop in Houston and stay an extra day and see what it is like. See the audience and surprise them. That would be really cool. And we did that was really fun Spring has something that we won't talk about with the bunny and we also saw Kumiko The Treasure Hunter right after that which also has something with the bunny. As part of Drafthouse's amazing charm they bought a bunny. He actually adopted a bunny and brought it to the audience and everybody got to pet it. Now he is the proud owner of a bunny thanks to Spring. Or thanks to Spring and Kumiko and his tenacity to make screening special. How weirdly awesome is that?

T - Drafthouses are special places. You been to Houston. You must have been to the ones in Austin.

J - We had our US premiere at fantastic Fest.

T - It is a great place. I love that place.

A - Us too. If we could make it our second home we would and we're still working on making that actually the case.

T - I told Tim league when I die want some of my ashes scattered on the roof. I don't know how he took it, he just kind of smiled and nodded.

J - You should have incorporated ashes into the food fight.

A - Oh my God, you're fucking crazy.

J - It can be really terrible and great,

T- The chapel with the monks that's not the Capuchan Catacombs are they?

A - What are those?

T - I wanted to find out where it was. And if you look up bone churches there is another one in a city called Palermo called the Capuchan Catacombs.

A - This is a little place called Oria. There's a giant church that we didn't film and down underneath were these catacombs. And they were really really confident. They just let us go down there and didn't watch us or anything. It was really cool.

J - What's so interesting is that scene was originally written for some catacombs that didn't have any bodies in them, that have been looted at some point. In that scene Louise would further express her cynicism about humanity. It was her big contradiction on one hand she does everything she can do to live forever. On the other hand she can be highly critical and cynical of humanity in a way that most people are. Maybe especially a lot of us go through that in our undergrad years or something. But she's this eternal undergrad, giving all her hip observations on how bad humanity is.

And we couldn't find a good. really cinematic emptied out crypt that looked right, or one that we were totally in love with. And we found this place 45 minutes from the set we already chose. They were just so, it was like no problem being in that location. They didn't send in a site rep or anything. We could have picked up those monks and danced around the room with them, no one would have ever known.

One thing that happens is those monks sort of became characters in that scene. They're one of the few characters in the movie to get actual close-up. They're sort of these sentinels looking out over this discussion of love and mortality and it gave an extra layer to that conversation, in that scene. Them being looked out over by these guys that were once alive but have been posted on the wall dehydrating for 300 years. You think about it. Those are real people. At some point they were alive. They could have never imagined that they would be characters in a movie, in a love story 300 years later, you know?

A - They could it could even imagine being in what the movie is.

T - There are tons of those different bone churches all over Italy, where they've got their monks strapped to the walls and stuff. It is a crazy form of iconography. I don't know if I can convince my church to do that. How crazy would it be to get married chapel like that?

J - I know. It would really stress people out. From death do us part. And you just look over and there's just these people staring at you, judging you, don't you dare back out of this. So that's very intense. Do you know about the bone cathedrals just outside Prague? In the Czech Republic?

T - I came across some pictures of those. It is just stacked.

J - I think what happened as the story goes the priest who oversaw that Cathedral had an issue, just literally running out of space in the graveyard he oversaw and the cemetery. And being really enterprising he's like let's do this. Let's use the bones of their dead bodies to create chandeliers and other parts of the Cathedral.

Aaron gets ideas like that all the time all the time, but we don't even have an overflowing graveyard problem. "Hey dude I am going to go to IKEA and get a lamp" and he's like "I'll just use dead body parts to make you one. IKEA is in the valley and it's Sunday and it'll be a madhouse. Just let me build it for you".

A - Dude, I have some raccoons that go through my backyard sometimes. Sometimes.

J - Let's just say the cat population of Hollywood has no idea how useful it's been in Aaron's home furnishings. Constructive, if you will.

T - Don't let Stephanie here that! (Stephanie's our mutual friend from the Fantasia/Evokative years)

A - No. Let her know so she will stop pawning her cat, Pucci, off on me.


A - I'm totally kidding. I genuinely love that cat. I don't want her to get that be like in hear it from another source, "Wait, does he really hate it?" Because I love that cat. I want to hang out with it all the time.


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