Tell me about the shoot. How did you develop a rapport between crew members and between Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch? Everything looks so effortless and easy onscreen.
Everything was easy, which is weird. It's very rare in a movie. I went to college with all my long-term collaborators, most of whom I went to film school with -- my cinematographer Tim Orr, my sound mixer Christof Gebert and my production designer Richard Wright -- so we had a core group. Even the dolly grip was this guy Steve Pedulla, the guitarist for this band Thursday. So it was kind of cool having a very eclectic group of people I've known for years. And then on top of that, Craig Zobel had a class a week at Columbia in New York and he got a bunch of the students to come down, hang out and help us out.
My script supervisor and a number of the personalities and faces hadn't been on crews before. There was my seasoned but pretty youthful and energetic crew and then this new group of young and hungry filmmakers and some local talent from Austin. My old assistant [Joshua Locy, on "Pineapple Express"] was the art director. It's a fun way to open up a really unlikely group of collaborators and so every day was fun, no days were stressful.
We finished two days early, which was strangely quick. It was really based on momentum and gut instincts and intuition rather than traditional development and analysis. We didn't do any box office demographic surveys to see who were appealing to other than ourselves. But it was a small enough budget and we always looked at it like, if this movie sucks we just won't tell anybody we made it. We'll just hide it. Nobody even knew about the film until after we had filmed it.
Did you shoot on film or digital stock? It's hard to place because "Avalanche" looks and feels like some lost movie from the past.
This was the first film I didn't shoot in 35mm. This is my first exploration of digital. We used anamorphic lenses on it. We used 70s lenses so there are a lot of flaws and imperfections. We didn't want it to have an American quality. We wanted it to feel like a strange European movie from the 80s. It could be like an Aki Kurasmaki movie.
You haven't had a screenplay credit since "Snow Angels." Why did you want to get back to writing?
In this specific instance, it was just for efficiency because the film needed to be written in about three days and I was the only one who would do it that quick. It was an adaptation, which is great because you can plagiarize the stuff you want to utilize and you can reimagine the things you want to reimagine. Remakes, and adaptations of novels, are great because there's already a blueprint. I don't know why there's this weird backlash against remakes because what about books? You're taking someone else's story and you're doing your version of it. It's the same thing.
Speaking of remakes, what's going on with "Suspiria," which seems to be in permanent "pre-production" limbo on IMDb?
Nothing. It's just not the right time for that movie to exist. It's a classy, elegant horror movie and people want to see things that are a little more raw, like found footage. Nobody's really begging for something that's elegant, classy and expensive.
Since you've directed many episodes "Eastbound and Down," what is your take on the TV vs. movies debate that's been tossed around lately?
The trend is that TV is becoming a very interesting playground, and it is a fun place to play and I have a great time working with HBO. It's fun to take a character or a scenario and really flesh it out and expand it over more than just a feature-length project. [The success of] film is a matter of where you're looking. If you're looking at the top of the box office to be your judgement of success or for what's interesting out there, you'll be limited in what you find. If you look internationally and in harder-to-reach places, there's really interesting stuff out there. I just watched "Only God Forgives" last night.
Did you like it? I think I stand alone in liking that movie.
I loved it. It's like a painting. And it's slow-moving and every shot is fucking gorgeous. It's just tone. For me, I don't necessarily need the all-star comedy cast of "Grown Ups 2" to take care of me. I can take a very well-lit fluorescent light down a hallway and that can be enough for me in certain moments. But then, I actually would like to watch "Grown Ups 2."
"Prince Avalanche" hits theaters August 9. Check out David Gordon Green's pop culture diary -- a list of everything he read, watched and listened to over the course of a week -- over at Vulture.