We began by asking about the reception to “Your Highness” (it was recently named one of Time Magazine’s worst movies of the year). “Oh it was incredible, right? All that applause and accolades!” Green joked. “Strangely enough the National Board of Review passed us up, which I was a little upset about. But I'm sure the Academy is going to have a lot to say.”
In fact, the night before at BAM he said that he deliberately avoids using of-the-moment pop cultural references or songs because he feels that his movies are never discovered when they’re initially released. He accounts for about a ten year gap between when the movie is made and when it’s widely embraced. Although that span might be more slight with “Your Highness.”
And if “The Sitter” seems like a lark, well, that’s because it was. It turns out virtually everything about “Your Highness” was anguished. “Everything about 'Your Highness' was difficult – financing that movie, getting it together, all the logistics of that movie,” Green explained. “And not just financially, because we were trying to make a modest budget movie look like a very expensive movie, but we're in a very difficult environment – it's raining everyday, a very aggressive movie on a very condensed amount of time. On every level it was very stressful.”
But as far as the three-movie comedy arc is concerned, it wasn’t something that Green intended. “Pineapple Express” was an opportunity to play in the big studio toy box and “Your Highness” was a dream project finally turned into an (arduous) reality while “The Sitter” served as a spring-back from that (a “cleansing from a very difficult time period”). “It wasn't a premeditated decision,” Green said. “If I were ever to engineer something consciously, intellectually, I would just always be schizophrenic with my career. I'm always dabbling on something outside of the thing I'm focused on. So ideally I'd jump from genre to this to that, from budget to this to that.” This is clearly the case, as he’s been linked to (among other things) a biopic on the Barefoot Bandit, a remake of horror classic “Suspiria,” a sci-fi epic, a time travel romance and a nonfiction John Grisham courtroom drama.
At the BAM presentation of the film, he mentioned a different version that would come out on DVD. We wanted to know, specifically, what would be different about it (we definitely have our own ideas), and if he swapped out scenes from the theatrical cut with the weirder versions of the same scenes. “There's nothing taken out because I really stand by the movie we're releasing theatrically,” Green was quick to point out. “I want to stand behind that. I feel like what we're releasing theatrically, considering what this movie is and what my intentions with this movie are, it's the one that makes the most sense.”
“As a director, sometimes I'll make a movie and say, 'fuck a crowd, fuck a critic' and make a movie a specific way. And I've made those movies. We know what they are,” Green explained. “There are other times that I want to make a movie where everyone can have a good time and is reflective of a time period when I used to go to the movies to have a good time and see something that maybe wasn't the most challenging thing in the world but it was something that I enjoyed.”
Earlier he had said that his decisions weren’t premeditated but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t think about the movies in terms of his career, which was certainly the case here. “I'm at the point in my career where I don't necessarily want it to be just a broad, fart joke comedy movie,” Green said. “I don't look at anything I do as that. But some people do and some people want to market it like that because it's a very specific thing to hang your hat on. But for me, exploring the unobvious becomes very fascinating for me.” The version of the movie will just be more of this fascination. “Here is a very interesting version of the movie that probably has pacing problems, I'll say, but has scenes that may throw off pacing for the rhythm of the editing or the dynamic of drama but I think they're really worthwhile and worth looking at and worth salvaging.”
While we look forward to the alternate cut of “The Sitter” (take a look at the unrated version of “Your Highness” on DVD sometime, holy smokes does he push it even further), we still really enjoyed the version that’s opening, nationwide, today. For even more David Gordon Green, check out IndieWire's conversation with the director as well.