Harmony Korine, TIFF

The always adventurous James Franco was the first person cast even before the film was written. Franco and Korine discussed the movie and the character for over a year before they shot. And while many artists inspired the role, like Riff-Raff, members of Three 6 Mafia and Memphis rappers, Korine and the actor insisted the character was a composite of many figures rather than drawn from one individual.

While improvisation was a big part of “Spring Breakers” -- Korine said he would whisper lines in Franco’s ear at times and then the actor would just riff with it and transform the dialogue into something else -- the director said he was not a fan of that term preferring to “provoke, inspire, and cajole” moments to spontaneously happen. Korine described the film as having liquid narrative. Characterizing the film as having looped micro-scenes, the filmmaker said the emphasis was on the energy, the rhythm and the feeling.  “I didn’t want to make a movie that was an exposé about spring break,” he said. “I wanted to make something that was more like a feeling, more like in pockets of America when you get lost a little bit.”

“I wanted to make a movie that seemed like candy,” he explained, noting that it only took him a week to write the script. “Like you could touch it, like it was lit with skittles. It was about the poetry of surfaces, and I wanted was all the themes and the emotions to drip down under the surface and it was is the residue of that.”

One thing was clear: the cast developed a great trust for their controversial director. “Harmony got us to do things I didnt think I was able to do, it’s dangerous thing,” Gomez said. “You could probably get me to do anything, which is bad. But it’s good we had that trust with him, it obviously paid off. I didn’t think it would ever be able to smoke a bong.”

“All these thick-necked jock dudes, trying to grind on Selena,” Korine said of scenes that employed real spring break kids. “It was pretty awesome.”

Korine often talked about the “beauty of surfaces” which some took as the beauty of surface-level virtues. When asked to describe what he meant, the director still delivered an opaque answer. “I wanted to make it a mix of high and low and not differentiate,” he said. “The aesthetic of it needed to pop. It needed to feel like something beautiful, but you weren’t there with them. I wasn’t making a documentary, it’s more to do with painting pictures then anything. I wanted to make something that worked in a different way that had reality and dream-like qualities to it... I don’t like telling people what to think, I don’t like judging.”

Annapurna Pictures recently bought “Spring Breakers.” The picture will likely be headed for a theatrical release in 2013.