INT: Angela Bettis

Got a chance to email some questions to Angela Bettis to find out what went down with her directorial debut - ROMAN (now out on DVD). It was planned, and in many ways plays, as the photo negative of Lucky McKee's MAY.

Where May slowly got comfortable with, and ultimately owned her psychosis, Roman wants to escape his. It's an unlikely journey, but an intriguing one nevertheless. So read on for the skinny on a movie custom made for people who want a romantic comedy without the laughs and a lot more disposal of limbs.

Angela Bettis

How did you enjoy your first feature directing experience?

It was challenging and fun. Thanks for asking.

Are you pleased with the result?


Which is harder on your constitution - filmmaking or cross-country running in Texas?

Filmmaking is much harder on my personal constitution. It does quite a number on the nerves.

Was the movie planned as a DV shoot all along or did you ever consider film?

We began making Roman with the idea of making it with our own equipment, which just happened to be digital. Besides, digital is our DP Kevin Ford's preferred medium to work on, so it just made sense. We decided that it would be a neat inverse to MAY which was shot in rich, beautiful 35mm by Steve Yedlin. Besides that, shooting digital really fit within our limited budget... and Roman was always intended to be shot for little money among friends.

Was there any friction as a result of switching roles with Lucky this time around, and if so, how did that help the creative process?

There was no friction, only fun. All the limitations helped the creative process. The limitations hone the vision.

One of my favorite visuals is when people of massively different sized heads kiss, and we get a lot of that in ROMAN. Did you choose to pair Lucky with diminutive actresses, or was that just happenstance since he's so tall?

Well, most people are smaller than Lucky, but we did think it was a total bonus that Kristen was half his size. It added a neat, freaky, visual element to the story that was not necessarily in the script.

The studio is pushing this as "Lucky McKee's follow up to MAY". Is that at all bothersome since you're the director this time around?

Not at all.

Do you think comparing this movie to MAY does it a disservice since they feature characters on opposite trajectories?

Comparing ROMAN and MAY is a bad idea in my opinion because they're indeed such different movies. That said, they are connected and share some similar sensibilities which are obvious to anyone who has seen both movies. (Chili dogs?) I do feel the correct way to view them is as companion pieces. It is neat that Lucky explored, in his writing, the themes of these two movies from the inside out and from the outside in.

I found Roman's hallucinations interesting, but a bit confusing. Would you talk about their significance?

Roman lives a lonely, dark, quiet life in his apartment and the dreams are his fantasies about the femininity that he so longs to understand, but feels entirely alienated from. So much of the movie is his internal life, represented by the dreams and also the female voices in his head.

There are images of Eva and Isis, his welding life at work, the murder he committed, porn, his window..... they all carry back to the elements of his reality. Not unlike the dreams, daydreams or thoughts we all experience both sleeping and awake.

I haven't seen a movie since THE WALL that made me think, "I really want to watch this high," so much. Were you purposely looking to create a bit of a visual headtrip?

I was trying to create Roman's active internal life. A cool thing is that dream sequences and internal life aren't limited by the same rules as reality, so you have the space to trip out as much as you want.

Do you think Eva would have felt cheated on if she knew what Roman did to Isis?


It seems more often than not that the people who trumpet their interest in death end up just as freaked out by the reality of it as anybody else - a point made brilliantly through Jeremy Sisto's character in MAY. In your mind is Eva the real deal in her fascination, or just a depressed girl looking to romanticize an early exit?

I think she's the real deal, but I'll leave it up to the viewer.

Does it give some of the fun of the movie away to have a hand in a tub of ice as the DVD cover art?

I would have liked to have kept that element of the story a secret but obviously the distributor felt differently. In the end it's a beautiful cover, very eye-catching I hope.

Since you've played a number of characters who are sexy, but in a very twisted way, have you had any scary fan run-ins as a result?


Can you talk a little bit about your upcoming projects WHEN IS TOMORROW and SCAR?

WHEN IS TOMORROW is a fun little comedy that I helped make with Kevin Ford (our DP and co-editor on ROMAN) and Eddie Steeples (the Detective in Roman). It was an exercise in producing our own movies and maintaining ownership, and a fun experience. It was really Kevin and Eddie's movie but I was happy to help in every way that they needed me to.

SCAR is a 3D slasher movie that I acted in late last year. I have not seen it yet but I had fun working with Christopher Titus, Al Sapienza, Ben Cotton, and the others who were in it. Given the dark nature of the movie, it was fun to share some laughs with them during the production.

What is up next for you/do you plan to direct again?

I'm breathing deeper again now that we are done with Roman, and there are some plans to make new movies with Lucky, Kevin, Steeples, and the rest of our gang throughout 2007. I would like to direct again and look forward to the opportunity.

A big thanks to Angela for taking time out of her frantic schedule to tackle all these questions. Obviously email didn't allow for any follow-up questions (like just what was the Scary Fan Experience?), but what fun would life be if we got all the answers we sought!

ROMAN will not be everyone's cup of tea. But if you're in the mood for a twist on the usual with a laid back pace that doesn't feel the need to cater to a PG-13 year-old's libido or attention span, then you just may find you dig this subtle, imperfect, yet ultimately intriguing flick.




Source: AITH

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