Sundance 2013: James Franco & the Sundance Circus
Michael Langan continues his conversation with Travis Mathews. He talks about the high-speed of Sundance and what it’s like moving about town with James Franco. He also relates a story of PR rage …
Click here to read the second part of this conversation with Travis Mathews, in which he talked about the creative strength that can be drawn from being an outsider.
Last weekend saw the Sundance premiere of Interior. Leather Bar and all the ensuing madness involved in that. I almost expected Travis to go silent, just because I knew how much he’d have to deal with and couldn’t imagine him finding the time and head-space to write emails. And then this arrived:
It’s hard to put words around this. In a lot of ways it feels very much like the making of Interior. Leather Bar: fast and furious with no time to reflect, worry or ruminate. You just get pushed here and there, then there’s a light in your face and a lot of questions about the same issues around WHAT this is and WHY this is. It’s actually been a lot easier than I expected with very few zingers; you’re forced to just dive in. Of course moving around town with James [Franco, the film’s co-director] is a whole other circus.
We had our last interview with MTV on Sunday and as we left, there were probably over 200 people desperate to get a shot of James; screaming, yelling, snapping. It’s strange to see some of these (mostly young girls) faces when they get close to him. You can imagine. I’m here for another week and there’s lots yet to do and three more screenings of the film, but the biggest frenzy just past.
Reading this I thought, it must be amazing to be in the middle of all this, especially when you are the one that people want to talk to and it’s about your work. Especially when that work involves a hotshot movie star and filming un-simulated gay sex. My next communication from Travis looked like this:
I can’t believe that I just watched Courtney Love perform a solid set of greatest hits, without incident, and about five feet in front of my face. She was on fire. I’m about to pass out but I’ll write in the morning.
At this point Travis and I aren’t so much having a conversation – I’m simply waiting for him to come back down to earth before he contacts me again. Then things take a slightly unexpected turn …
It’s been hard for me to put all of this into words. I’d like to think that I’m a pretty humble guy and that I’m keeping my feet on the ground, but the speed and intensity of it all is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. There are weird and unexpected things that come along with this too, and sometimes both the good and the bad sort of merge creating a confusing experience to navigate. The party for our film comes to mind…
It’s a much longer story, but basically, we had a party at a bar where the promoter felt that James and I had promised to go to some after-after-party where people were waiting for us to arrive. I had no idea about this party and no idea where James was at this point. I was about to go back to my hotel because we had a full slot of interviews the following day. While still at the bar the promoter began pushing me to go to this other party and it quickly turned into a bullying incident unlike anything I’ve experienced since High School. I was sitting at a table with some of the team from the film and this guy is leaning over the table like he might punch me, getting in my space, hostile, scary. Luckily he was held back by one of his people and my team helped to get me immediately out of this place. The promoter turned this into a total scene, yelling at me as we’re trying to get out as fast as possible: “You and me we’re finished! Good luck with your film career!” They wouldn’t even let us get our coats as we were leaving. I was shaking with some kind of confused fear and glad to be the fuck out of that awful bar. We get on the sidewalk and “the dude” of The Big Lebowski fame – whom I had just met earlier in the day – tries to intervene and calm the whole situation down, but all I can think at this point is how do we get Santiago out of there.
Santiago Latorre – who did the score for Interior. Leather Bar and contributed a whole soundtrack’s worth of music to the forthcoming In Their Room London – came to Sundance from London to perform at the end of this party. He was finishing his set as we were rushing out of this place. The promoters knew that Santiago and I were close and that he was special to me. The promoter was so unhinged I was worried they were going to do something to Santiago. What, I had no idea, but that guy was pissed off enough that who the hell knew what. It sounds ridiculous as I type this, but the whole situation was so very bizarre and unexpected that I had no idea how concerned to be. Santiago made it out of the party but was driven to this after-after-party that we were expected to attend. Apparently he got there, set up and then they cancelled the whole thing because James wasn’t going to be there. Gross. James took to calling me the Sundance brawler the following day once we could sorta kinda laugh about it.
I guess that captures something of the surreal brilliance of being somewhere like the Sundance Film Festival. It must feel like everyone in the world wants to be there, everyone is there, including you, and you can’t quite believe your eyes, especially if Courtney Love is in them and you’ve had some time to think about that.
That’s an extreme example of the weird/bad intensity. Then there’s the flip side. Last night I had the huge privilege of seeing an intimate Courtney Love performance where I was standing about five feet from her. She did a kick ass greatest hits set from the earliest days of Hole and returned to a Jay Z cover throughout the night then out of nowhere covered Big Star’s ‘Thirteen’, which was maybe the highlight for me. I also enjoyed her set up to Miss World: with something with an eye roll about giving the people what they want, she said, “Here’s another fucking crowd pleaser!” Everything about last night made up for the movie party fiasco.
Check back to read more about what Travis Mathews has been up to at the Sundance Film Festival.
Click here to read the find out what Interior. Leather Bar. is all about.