The Arrow interviews Jean-Baptiste Andrea
When I interviewed the great Ray Wise a while back, he raved about this new film he was starring in called "Dead End". It took me a while to get my hands on it but finally got to see it! Directed by French hombres Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa, "Dead End" was a low-key, hilarious, yet scary, opus. I had the chance to chat with one of its directors, kool duder Jean-Baptiste Andrea about the film and here's what he "road killed" my way!
ARROW: First off, I'd like to say congratulations on "Dead End". I thought it was a highly entertaining movie!
a lot! That was the point of it.
ARROW: Well, point accomplished! So how did the idea for the screenplay come about?
Jean-Baptiste: Well, it all came from a legend I used to hear as a kid in the South of France. I didn't even dare to go outside at night, in the woods! And then it became more popular later on. But the whole feel of Dead End comes from hearing that story, or versions of it, as a kid.
ARROW: Does the story still ring in people's ears today or has it vanished?
Jean-Baptiste I guess it has become pretty much a classic. We found out later that the legend was kind of universal, and could be found under different guises in different countries.
ARROW: Well, I never heard it in my neck of the woods...
Jean-Baptiste You don't go out enough at night, man!
ARROW: LOL! Or maybe I'm just to drunk to hear anything...
Jean-Baptiste: Right. But it's usually when you're drunk that these things happen...
ARROW: Then maybe that would explain why my life is going nowhere slow...
ARROW: Let's move on. Financing...was it tough to lock?
Jean-Baptiste: It all went pretty quickly actually. Like six months. So if you don't count the six years before that it took to get the film made while not making a dime...that's pretty quick!
ARROW: LOL! I'm sure those 6 years were frustrating years!
Jean-Baptiste: Yeah, but I forgot everything when I was on the set of "Dead End". It was like a dream. Everything that had happened before, all the sweat and tears, as Churchill would have said, became nothing.
ARROW: Now I have two words for you...Ray and Wise.
Jean-Baptiste: LOL! You interviewed him, right?
ARROW: Yes, it was for me a Twin Peaks fanboy dream come through.
Jean-Baptiste: It was the same for me! I couldn't think straight when I met him! I have to say I had a car accident two minutes before while going to the meeting. My first ever.
ARROW: Ouch you were that nervous!
Jean-Baptiste: Strange coincidence.... (wolf howl). I was very excited.
ARROW: Was he your first choice, casting-wise, to play Frank?
Jean-Baptiste: The first and the last! Let me explain: it was very hard to find a dad for that family. Ray Wise had always been an ideal, but we'd never actually considered casting him until two weeks before the shoot when our casting director blew a fuse because we were still dad-less. Then he asked us what kind of guy we were looking for. We answered "Well, Ray Wise" and she said "Let's send him the script then!" Why nobody had done that before, I have no idea. I didn't think we could have him... he was so perfect and we all kept looking for someone that would come close.
ARROW: That's amazing! For a Twin Peaks fan to direct Leland...wow...you must have been floored at first!
Jean-Baptiste You bet! But you know, it lasted a few hours, and then it was a normal relationship between a director and his actor. But he kept thrilling me as an actor, surprising me, and I'll be forever grateful to him for his performance and dedication to the project. You know that, you're an actor!
ARROW: Yes, I know...actually. Frank has a very "Leland" moment in the film...was that an intentional wink at Twin Peaks, or did it just happen?
Jean-Baptiste: You mean when he slaps his daughter?
Jean-Baptiste: Well... the scene was written before he was cast, but I guess it subconsciously comes from Twin Peaks. Seeing Ray Wise do it made me suddenly realize where the scene came from!
ARROW: When I saw the scene, it was Leland all over again...I LOVED IT!
Jean-Baptiste: Yeah, me too!
ARROW: Now, I found the film to be both funny and scary, was it a challenge for you to keep to the right balance?
Jean-Baptiste Yes and no. Yes, because it was a big bet, and nobody could tell if it would work or not. And no, because in the end, we just went for it and didn't question that anymore, we just believed that it would work. Now believe it or not, but I've read reviews where the guy wondered if the humor in Dead End was intentional or not. I almost fell from my chair.
ARROW: I never got that, it was obvious to me that the humor was circumstantially intentional. I guess humor is subjective after all!
Jean-Baptiste: The humor is part of Dead End and the reason we wrote it. Yes, humor is subjective, and I respect people telling me: I don't like your sense of humor. But when I read, "was the humor intentional?", that's another matter! But I guess that's the downside of playing humor without yelling "Look, guys, now it's humor, and now it's horror". We wanted both to blend.
ARROW: Maybe they just didn't "get it"?
Jean-Baptiste Like in real life.
ARROW: Exactly. Now, when I met up with Ray, you had no North American distribution and I recommended to him that you contact Lion's Gate Films. Now I hear that LG is distributing the film. I have to ask...did I help out in any minimal way?
Jean-Baptiste: I'd love to say yes, but we'd already been talking with LG for a while at the time. But you taking an interest in the film definitely helps a lot! And you had a pretty good instinct mentioning LG.
ARROW: I knew it would be up their alley. When is the film slated to be released...do you know?
Jean-Baptiste: The last I heard was November 9, 2004, but it's straight to DVD.
ARROW: Nothing wrong with that. All the best films go straight to DVD now of late.
Jean-Baptiste: Thanks! Sure, nothing wrong with that. I'm glad it happened at a time when DVD is so high. It allows fans to see things that might've disappeared otherwise. It's the power back to the people!
ARROW: Yes, power to the people who want to see non-target audience, crappy, hip-hop oriented genre crud.
Jean-Baptiste: Right...it seems we're seeing more and more of those!
ARROW: And that's why Dead End was a breath of fresh air for me! THANK YOU!
Jean-Baptiste: Man, thank you! It's really cool that you liked it. It was meant to be an unpretentious and fun movie, like people did back in the days. Without much money but with tons of love.
ARROW: Well, that love shined through! Last question...what's next on your plate? Do you have any other projects in development at the moment?
Jean-Baptiste: Fabrice (the co-director of Dead End) and I are working separately now. I have several things in development, but nothing I can say "this is what comes next" for sure right now. I'll keep you posted!
ARROW: Please do! Well, thanks a lot for your time JB!
Jean-Baptiste: No problem. It was a real pleasure!
I'd like to thank Jean-Baptiste for his time and for the genre treat that was "DEAD END". I encourage you all to seek this puppy out when it's released. It's worth the trip!