In what was easily one of the most anticipated films of SXSW, based on the wildness factor alone, Harmony Korine's "Spring Breakers" wasn't so much unspooled as unleashed on audiences in Austin last night. And while reaction was swift as the credits rolled, and discussion will continue about where this candy colored movie will fit in the director's ouevre, as we made clear in our review from Venice, it's "a piece of pop art."
After spending the night undoubtedly celebrating another fine festival reception for the movie that has also touched down at TIFF and Sundance, Harmony, along with Rachel Korine, Selena Gomez and Ashley Benson, sat down for an hour long panel conversation about the movie. And the discussion was always ever fascinating, with Selena Gomez revealing her surprising pick for her favorite Harmony Korine movie, the director revealing his unique research process and a discussion on how the film has been received both at home and abroad. We've rounded up the highlights, right down below.
Selena Gomez took on "Spring Breakers" in a conscious effort to shake up her CV and reveals her favorite Harmony Korine movie
"It's more of a transition period for me. I don't think there's a right or wrong answer or way for me to do that gracefully. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and see how far I could go. I auditioned for Harmony and Rachel at his house and he believed in me. And I'm really thankful for it. I just wanted to see how far I could go," the actress said.
"...my mom is my manager and she is a huge fan of his. I watched all of his films," Gomez continued, and her favorite movie by Korine? "Trash Humpers."
Harmony Korine wants his films to be like a "drug experience"
"You just make the movies and you're drawn to a certain storyline or a world and the way things feel. It's an impressionistic reinterpretation of a zeitgeist, of a moment. But anything past that I try not to think of. I'm trying to just entertain you and show you what it feels like. It's not reality. It's a kind of un-reality or a hyper-reality or a pop poem or something," the director explained. "I want to make films that aren't a simple experience but is something closer to a drug experience – something very physical and works on you in a way that is undefined and closer to transcendence. Maybe in some ways it's a different type of film because I don't care about explaining it in words. It was more of something that I want to live with you and affect you in a way that's more physical and dreamlike."
"I made it when I was 15. I wasn't a particularly good student and it was a time when teachers were allowed to beat their students. And I wrote a short story and she held up my story and said, "This is a great example of a short story." And she asked what I wanted to do when I grow up and she said, "I want to make movies." She asked if I could make it into a movie and I said sure," he explained, simply.
Selena Gomez and Ashley Benson had actually never been on Spring Break
Selena: "We've never been on Spring Break."
Ashely: "What was helpful was everyone that was there was really on Spring Break and were really Spring Breakers. Those were our real reactions – girls would be getting naked and making out. Just being in that environment really helped us out. And we were listening to rap music the whole time and dancing."
Selena: "Harmony would send us images of girls on Spring Break or a picture of a girl's bedroom or YouTube videos and he would send it to us a couple of months before shooting and we would have to live in that world. He would ask us to escape the world we were used to and step into that life. That helped as well."
Rachel: "And I think all of us had an awareness of the subculture that is Spring Break, growing up in America. And having shows like that MTV thing… It's a big subculture in America."
"I had been collecting Spring Break imagery in paintings and stuff – adolescent debauchery in Florida. I thought it was interesting, the pictures themselves, were hyper-sexualized, hyper violent, but all the bikinis and the book bags and the flip flops and the neon and the stickers were really childlike and innocent. I thought it was interesting, both those things playing together – that dual idea," he shared. "I also thought it would be a nice backdrop and metaphor for what happens in the film once they meet Alien and what the film becomes. I didn't go to Spring Break as a kid, so I jumped on an airplane and went to Daytona Beach and all I saw was fat lesbians and bikers. It turns out they had run off the Spring Breakers. So I went to Panama City and wrote it. I saw a human jawbone in a chandelier at a Days Inn."
Reactions to the movie at home and abroad have been different
Harmony: "So far it's been great. That's what's what was great watching in America – people notice here the details and references and things."
Rachel: "In Europe they don't understand what some things are."
Selena: "In Toronto, they were totally into it. In Europe they are more liberal."
Ashley: "In Europe, on the talk shows, they show boobs."
Rachel: "It got a 12 and up rating in France."
"I have no allegiance. It's an instrument. Video cameras from the worst to the best – it's all good, they're all instruments, they all have a tone, they all have a voice," he says. "So I still do things on whatever medium – I love them all."
When editing the movie, Harmony Korine wanted the film to be like "a violent pop song"
I wanted to make a film that was electronic music – loop based. It was closer to micro-scenes or liquid narrative, where the movie became like a blast of time. I wanted it to be an assault or a violent pop song – with choruses or repetition. Closer to a drug experience. We got in there and started deconstructing images and sounds. You just go with the energy.