Joe Swanberg really does it all--writer, director, actor; and somehow he also manages to find time to add husband and father to that list. And in case you were all, "Well, that's not EVERYTHING", we've lurked his Instagram account and can conclude that he also finds time to make beer AND has a burger named after him (the "Joe Swanburger", obviously). So there. He does do everything.
This year, he also happens to be appearing in not just one, but two Vanguard films: Ti West's The Sarcrament and Zack Parker's Proxy. One of our intrepid bloggers, Siân, had a chance to ask Joe some questions about horror films, life, the universe, and everything. Okay, nothing at all about the universe actually, but that's okay.
SM: Firstly, how does it feel to be the unofficial Vanguard mascot? (Yes, apparently you only need to be in two films. Yes, I entirely made this up myself. The prize? Uh, bragging rights. And an ice cream from Dutch Dreams if you're ever in TO.)
JS: I hope there are stuffed toys of me available at gift shops around the Festival! I suppose the vibe of the Vanguard section fits with my own ideas about exciting filmmakers and interesting stories because I keep ending up in movies that play that section. Also, I'm taking you up on the free ice cream offer.
SM: You've worked with Ti West before. How did you get involved with Zack Parker and Proxy?
JS: Zack knew me from my work with Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett (A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE, YOU'RE NEXT) and thought I would be a good fit for the project. We both had films at the Nashville Film Festival in 2012 and discussed the film then. After completing DRINKING BUDDIES I drove to Richmond, Indiana the next day to start work on PROXY.
SM: You've appeared in a few horror/thriller-y films the past few years-- V/H/S, You're Next, and now Proxy and The Sacrament. (Fun fact: the V/H/S segment you acted in has permanently scarred me. Thank you. By the time your segment came up, I was crying in the foetal position, so I didn't really see much of it, but it sounded terrifying.) Given that you're mostly known for your relationship-based dramas and comedies, what about horror films appeals to you? And any future plans to direct a feature-length horror?
JS: I love the audience reaction to a horror film. I also love the community that surrounds horror. The fans are so passionate and participatory. After years of watching and acting in friends' horror films, I wanted some of the action myself. I would love to do a feature-length horror film, but have no plans for that at the moment.
SM: You've been very involved in all of your directing projects--often writing, shooting, and editing them as well. Is this important to you? Do you see yourself taking on directing projects that you haven't written any time soon?
JS: After 10 years of making films, I'm looking for new experiences and new challenges. Directing someone else's script is one of the things I'm excited to try.
SM: You work with a lot of the same people. Obviously you wouldn't keep working with them if you didn't like them and the beautiful magic you create together, but can you speak to what has drawn you to working with the same people?
JS: Low-budget films are a specific kind of production, and it helps to work with people who are familiar with that world. Once you find someone who you work well with, and who brings something good to the dynamic, there's a strong desire to keep working with that person. I've been lucky to find a community of talented people who are interested in similar things and together we've been able to help each other out in various capacities over the years. As we get bigger opportunities, we continue working together because we know how to help each other and we know where we're all coming from.
SM: Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions, Joe. And, I never go back on an ice cream promise--regular promises, sure; those don't mean squat, but an ice cream promise is sacred--so I will be treating you to an Unofficial Vanguard Mascot Ice Cream when you're in TO next.
Lastly, to all of you Joe Swanberg fans, do I have EXCITING AWESOME news for you. Ready for it? I can't hear you! Okay, not so loud. Joe Swanberg's Drinking Buddies opens this Friday at the Carlton Cinemas. Go and see what everybody is talking about. (I saw it the other day in NYC and absolutely loved it.)
THE SACRAMENT Screening
Sunday, Sept 8th, 5:15 PM THE BLOOR HOT DOCS CINEMA
Tuesday, Sept 10th, 9:45 PM SCOTIABANK 7
Friday, Sept 13th, 8:45 PM SCOTIABANK 3
Tuesday, Sept 10th, 10:30 PM THE BLOOR HOT DOCS CINEMA
Thursday, Sept 12th, 5:00 PM SCOTIABANK 1
Saturday, Sept 14th, 8:00 PM SCOTIABANK 9