A few days ago, as I was walking from the convention center here in Austin back to my car, I ran into a friend on the street who was here with Miguel Sapochnik, director of "Repo Men." Because I had just interviewed Sapochnik, I felt comfortable insisting that he check out that night's screening of "A Serbian Film," still by far the most interesting thing I've seen at SXSW this year.
Sapochnik impresses me as a hearty movie fan, a guy with a keen taste for the outrageous, and I think his movie reflects those sensibilities quite strongly. I enjoyed our brief chat on the phone, which you can read in full below:
Drew McWeeny: I wanted to talk about where this film began for you, because I know what the novel is, but your film feels like it’s got its own voice, and I can’t help but feel that there is a touch of a Verhoven to it.
Miguel Sapochnik: That's a fair statement.
Drew: And I mean that in the best possible way. I think Verhoven is one of the few guys who really knows how to make extreme graphic material both funny and shocking at the same time. And it’s not a trick many people can pull off, and I think your film walks that line very well.
Miguel: Well, thank you. I was… listen, "Robocop" was a huge influence in my life when I was growing up watching movies, and it was a guilty pleasure in some respects. Interestingly, my upbringing was kind of Schwarzenegger and Tarkovsky. And my dad was the one who used to push Tarkovsky on me, so secretly I would watch Schwarzenegger. "Robocop" was a rare movie that he loved because it walked that line. And Monty Python was like that as well. You know... there was also Terry Gilliam and "Brazil" and "Clockwork Orange" and obviously "Blade Runner". All those are the kind of movies that influenced this film. But definitely the intent was to kind of entertain and at the same time have an underlying social comment that didn’t really hit people over the head with giving its point but was there if you choose to take a closer look.
Drew: Well, it’s an ambitious film and looking at your background, it seems like you must have had quite a pitch to get Universal to commit to you on a picture of this size. Can you talk about the process of how you chased the material and ended up in the director’s chair?