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DG Oct 05 - Robin Garrels Spills Her Guts about Buzz Saw! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Written by Joe Sherlock   
Oct 19, 2005 at 07:00 PM
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DG Oct 05 - Robin Garrels Spills Her Guts about Buzz Saw!
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DG: While it shares some of the surrealness and dreamlike qualities of your past Sub Rosa releases Insaniac and Last House on Hell Street, Buzz Saw seems more literal and perhaps closer to a traditional "horror movie." Do you feel this way about it? If so, was it a conscious decision or did it just turn out that way?

Robin: I have to say, the opportunity to make Last House and Insaniac came at a time when I was starting a theatre company, hadn't any filmmaking experience, and was told that I had just a few weeks to write a story, in both cases, for someone else to direct (John Specht, whom I had just come to know.).

I didn't really start out having much control, per se, and the lack of experience with "screenwriting", mixed with an insane deadline in both cases caused for some pretty stream-of-consciousness material. In the end, what little sense could be made of the loosely constructed story happened by the grace of Eric Stanze in the editing room! So...after much was learned, I decided that my next project would have the time invested to make it the best it could be with the (little more) experience and budget we had. So, to answer the question (ha!), the decision was conscious, yes.

DG: Can you give folks a brief rundown of what the movie is about in your own words?

Robin: Well, as comparatively linear as the plot might be, I still think it's open to different interpretations. I think it's about the contrast between taking responsibility and not doing so. Cass willingly takes the role as scapegoat, because it makes sense for him to do so. (non-pretentious version: It's about runaway tools that kill people and blame their owners.) ..Ach...it still sounds like a metaphor for society!

DG: What came first - the title or the concept?

Robin: Heh heh heh...we came up with like 10 or so titles that were rejected, and the one we liked least on our list was Buzz Saw! This was after we finished the final draft of the script...I think the first title was Deux Ex Machina, but looking back now...that's um...really heady. So yeah. Glad "Buzz Saw" was chosen from our list (by Eric Stanze or Ron Bonk...can't remember!)

DG: There is some serious drug use shown in the movie, sometimes with serious conscequences. Was it simply the way the plot needed to unfold to move the movie forward or were you trying to make any statements about drug .

Robin: I guess while writing we were coming up with different far-out scenarios, and decided that each character would have some sort of flaw that would be either overcome or be their undoing, but we became really attached to the drug abuse angle because drugs seemed to be just another "tool." Pete and Cass fix things with tools, bending inanimate objects into submission for human benefit, and they fix themselves with drugs and alcohol, bending themselves into submission away from their potential.

DG: Tell us a bit about how you chose your actors. Did you hold casting calls? Start with people you'd worked with and expand to friends of friends?

Robin: I've always had a weird thing with casting calls...I guess I shouldn't...but it's really hard not to just have "the perfect person" in mind most of the time, if you're a "writer/director". We are lucky enough to be involved in the theatre community, so we have access to good actors who are willing to commit their time to non-paying projects. I'm sure the time will come when we will hold auditions, but for Buzz Saw, by the time the script was finished, we just about had it figured. Luckily most of our actors agreed! Those who didn't were beaten into submission with industrial soap bottles. Although the original Colleen Null was called to Iraq, and the kids were these bizarre last-minute finds...Buzzy (Alidjah) came by our house after the first script reading. His mom just happened to stop by to see our roommate, we'd never met her...or Alidjah. As he was fiddling with stuff in our living room and asking questions, we looked at each other and knew that he was perfect. Luckily his mom agreed to entrust him to us! He's been in therapy ever since.

DG: It can be said that the whole movie is populated with odd characters, but you had some real odd ones in there. Where did you find the old guy?

Robin: If you're talking about Dick Mintzlaff...he's been involved in St. Louis theatre for almost his whole life. I'd been lucky enough to work with him on a couple of productions...the first time I met him, he was auditioning for my friend Chris Grega's movie "Amphetamine." Now, Amphetamine is a movie about sex, drugs, and rock and roll - and all the characters are these young guys who go to bars, etc. - so here comes Dick, reading these cool guy lines...he had me right there. I KNEW that someday I had to work with this guy.

DG: Many of the "power tool sequences" were quite scary - maybe because I was always nervous in shop class in high school! Do you have any power tool mishaps in your past you were drawing upon, or were you just figuring that spinning metal close to flesh is just plain scary?

Robin: Right now, I'm typing with my toes.

DG: Impressive! Were there any interesting/funny/creepy stories from the set?

Robin: When we shot the finale at the treehouse, Jason and Steve (Cass and Pete) kept giving Alidjah (Buzzy) pieces of candy. So by the end of the night, he was jumping pogo-stick-like at the camera and he was completely "shorted out." Poor kid. He'll never be the same. Oh, and when we shot the ending credits, Jason in the goat suit walking along a bike path was quite a start for innocent passers-by. Also, we didn't have a postal uniform for Rusty the mailman, and being right before Halloween, I figured..you know..ebay. But I guess it's a federal offense or something to sell those, because then anyone could come to your door saying they're the postman and hack you to death, right? So we were shooting at Pea Tree doing some exteriors and a mailman walked by, so I just asked him if we could borrow his uniform. I met up with him the next day and he GAVE me an old one! Oh, and once David tried to kill our sound guy. With a pocket knife. And he tried to run over him with our van too. You've heard of Werner Herzog pulling a gun on Klaus Klinski on set?


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