EXCLUSIVE: Quentin Dupieux Talks Wrong
Quentin Dupieux Talks Wrong, on VOD starting today, and in theaters this March
Dolph Springer awakens one morning to find he has lost the sole love of his life...His dog, Paul. Desperate to reunite with his best friend and to set things right, Dolph embarks on a journey which spirals into the realm of the absurd. On his quest, he drastically alters the lives of several severely bizarro characters, including a promiscuous pizza delivery girl, a mentally unstable, jogging-addicted neighbor, an opportunistic French-Mexican gardener, an eccentric pet detective and most mysterious of all, an enigmatic pony-tailed guru, Master Chang who imparts his teachings to Dolph on how to metaphysically reconnect with his pet.
From fearless cinematic surrealist Quentin Dupieux, the director behind the head exploding Rubber, Wrong is a wholly original and hilariously hallucinatory universe all its own. We caught up with the director for a chat about his work.
Should we consider this art? Here is our conversation.
The title of the movie, Wrong...Watching this, I could feel my college film professor standing over my shoulder, screaming, "Wrong! This is all WRONG!" It flies in the face of what we've been taught as students of the medium. Did you have someone in your life who told you these things were wrong? That you couldn't do this in a movie?
Quentin Dupieux: (Laughs) When I started, when I was making short films, when I was a teenager...I was working with semi-professional technicians. They were trying to teach me everything all the time, "You can't do this, this will never work...This is WRONG!" Don't do this, don't do that. So, yes, maybe this movie is a response to them.
I watched Rubber here at the house with a couple of people. And it was decided that your presence is heavily felt on the film. You seep through the pores of it. Yet we didn't know who you were, or what you were about. I have to admit, its kind of disappointing to talk to you on the phone, because I like the mystery. It makes the movies a little scarier. Who is this lunatic? I didn't want to know. I don't think you should be doing press...
Quentin Dupieux: Oh, yes! That is the point. If you have nothing interesting to say...Its all in the movie...That is what I'm trying to do. I am trying to give the audience some room. It's your movie. You have the right to think, technically, about the film as you want to see it. It's a huge part of my work, to give some room to the viewers. Not telling them what to feel every second.
I have read some of what you had to say about Rubber and Wrong. You've explained that there is no hidden meaning in what we are seeing on screen. Sometimes certain things happen just because they are funny, or because they look cool. The audience shouldn't look for a greater purpose or metaphor in your work. Its just comedy...
Quentin Dupieux: There is some meaning, if you think about it. Of course, I am a human being. When I am writing stuff, obviously it has to contain meaning. It is inspired by life. So, yes, you can find a lot of meaning...If you want to dig...You can also analyze me, and who I am, and my feelings...But that is not the point. When I am writing, I am trying to be inspired. I am trying to surprise myself. I am trying to get away from the real life.
You were just at Sundance, with Wrong Cops, right?
Quentin Dupieux: Yes.
Did you get a chance to see this black and white movie that everyone is talking about, that was shot guerilla style in Disneyland and Disney World? Escape from Tomorrow, I think its called...
Quentin Dupieux: No, because I was of course too busy doing press and some stupid photos, so no...I haven't seen it!
Coming out of Sundance, I saw "proper" reviews for that movie, and for Wrong Cops, and Wrong, and it seems to me that these aren't cookie cutter movies that deserve to be reviewed in that manner. This stuff strikes me as true art made within the confines of this particular medium. Yet people are reviewing them as though they are reviewing the latest Superhero movie. There seems to be a disconnect with the audience, where they are telling you your movie is, to quote the title again, Wrong. That title kind of represents a lot of things all at once. It could be seen as a statement to those reviewers, who are getting it wrong. I don't think you can review something that is art, that is personal, and that is coming from a certain place within the same context...What are your thoughts on that?
Quentin Dupieux: For some people, the movie should be entertaining. A lot of people don't care about art. They don't want to see art in a theater. If they want to see art, they go to a museum. A lot of reviews make no sense. Even some of the very good ones. Some times. Its at the end of the day, I know what I am pushing, and its hard sometimes. Because, when you pay a ticket for a movie, you expect some structure. You expect to feel something. You expect to love the main character. Things like that. I am trying to make something different. But I know that a lot of people don't want to see Wrong in a theater. They don't want to see "art". I think there is a lot of room for art in movies, still. Even though it's a big industry now, and some of the movies are very formatted. Some of the movies are very good, and some are really bad, also. It's a different job. I am doing a different type of movie. I know there is not a huge audience for art movies. That is why I stopped doing Q&As, because I have to answer for the movie. Instead, now, I'll just say a few words before the movie starts. I say, "If you don't like it...It's your fault." And that is true with this movie. It's so easy to hate. If you are not in a good mood, if you want to criticize the movie, if you want to watch it with a bad eye...Its super easy to hate.
Wrong is so funny, so often, though...I can't imagine, despite some of its weirdness, who would truly hate the movie. I heard Eric Wareheim talking about Wrong Cops, and he said it was a great movie to shoot, because you move so fast. Because you know what is funny when you see it, and that's where you call cut and move on. What is the insight there? What hits at being the perfect take for you?
Quentin Dupieux: When you get a good laugh, it might be a good sign. But that doesn't mean its right. You might have fun shooting a good scene, and then you go into the editing room, and it is boring. On set, sometimes a good laugh is a good sign. But it's not a deal maker. I know when something sounds good. When I say sound, I mean it looks good, and the pace is good. It is like music. You feel it. Or not. When we shoot really fast, we can find that. We'll do five shots, and that is great. But when something sounds bad, and it doesn't work...We spend time on it. We make it work. We find the function, we change two beats. The writing is okay. We can get it good on the first take, almost. It is something you feel most of the time. It's not a science. Its what we call "the magic".
I haven't seen Wrong Cops yet. But for some reason, it reminds me of Night Patrol, from 1984. Which I haven't seen in twenty years. It's just that it was so weird, and some of the imagery is still stuck in my head, and it came flooding back while watching the trailer for Wrong Cops. Did Night Patrol serves as any kind of inspiration for you?
Quentin Dupieux: I think I remember what that is. I think I rented it, and I did not realize what it was at the time. I think I was sixteen years old, and I started playing the movie...I realized it was not for my age. There was a lot of sexual content, from what I remember. I think I shut it down after about ten minutes. I realized it was not for me.
It was like a cheap knock off of Police Academy. But it was subversive and very strange. It was very odd, and wrong...
Quentin Dupieux: Yeah. (laughs) Maybe...I'm still in the editing process on Wrong Cops. It is small on the Police Academy side. It is very different. It is not just funny cops, doing stupid jokes. There is much more. It is a really funny movie. But it never goes that big.
I can't wait to see it. How exactly are you distributing it? I know you showed 45 minutes of it at Sundance, but I'm not sure how it is being released all together...
Quentin Dupieux: We showed three chapters, and the whole movie is made up of seven chapters. They are all the same length, and they all represent one day in the same week. So it goes from Monday through Sunday. It is one week in this messed up, crazy cop world. At the end, it will be a whole movie that people watch in the theater. We will probably put it online as episodes. You can watch a chapter, or you can watch the entire movie.
When can we expect to see the whole, finished movie?
Quentin Dupieux: The editing will be done in about a month. Then, we have to work on the sound. We are planning to release the movie in June. So it will be a summer release. We might go to Cannes with it. I don't know about the U.S. Right now, we have no distribution for it. It will be ready in about a month. That is when we will start working on it.
You have another movie coming up pretty quick, too, right?
Quentin Dupieux: Réalité. Yeah. We just shot it after Wrong Cops. It's hard to describe. It's my oldest project. I have been working on this script for years and years. Finally, a big French star accepted to be the lead in it. His name is Alain Chabat. He is someone I really love. I grew up watching his stuff on TV. He is someone I respect and love. When he accepted to do it, we had to do it. It's hard to describe. It's supposed to be funny. But it's also a complicated nightmare. That will be out next year after Wrong Cops. When I will be done with Wrong Cops, I will start editing this one.
Wrong makes its debut on VOD this weekend.