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Spun - Jonas Åkerlund Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. Can I ask you about the origins of the film? There is a tantalizing quote in the publicity material that says it was inspired by some of the writer's real life experiences? Would that be close to the truth?
A.
I guess so. It's based on truth and lies; that's what it says in the opening, partly because it's based on the truth, but junkies like to lie, and twist their reality around a bit. It's also a movie, so we had to rewrite stuff to make it entertaining, but the characters are based on Will [De Los Santos] and Creighton's friends, and their own experiences.

Q. Were your cast as willing as you expected them to be going in, to go that extra yard? One thinks of John [Leguizamo] and his sock, and stuff like that, or did they surprise you because they were very gung-ho about getting it on.
A.
Well, it was all sorted out before the shoot. There were no surprises on the shoot. Once they were there shooting, there were no compromises at all.

Q. Do you have an anecdote about how the project came to you, or was sold to you? And what was your immediate reaction? And, after the film has gone to the creative post-production, there is quite a lot of really interesting camerawork, did anything surprise you about how your performances come across?
A.
Well, taking the first one, I had a few years of different scripts coming my way, and I felt the same reading the script the first time, I wasn't specifically into the actual story.
I was very intrigued by the characters, but the actual story was never the strong point of the script, it was more the characters. It was also about having a producer who was very open-minded for first-time directors, like me. That was very interesting for me.
That's why I decided to move forward with it. And I always had, since I was very busy doing my music videos and commercials, I always had Spun as a side project... something I thought I'll do on the side, just to be able to say that now I've done a movie. And it just kept growing and growing...

Q. Over how many years?
A.
No time in years. Everything happened very fast. I'm used to working very fast; I'm doing like 25 projects a year, so this was just one of them. The editing process, and the shoot, took longer than I'm used to, but that's how it happened. And once we were there, it happened really, really fast.

Q. And then getting the script and some really big names...
A.
I didn't know better, I was just listing off my favourite people, and people started to say 'yes', so I thought that's just the way it is. This is how it works in America, which is fine. I realise now how fantastic that was, but at the time, I just thought this must be how it works!

Q. How easy or hard was it to get funding for a film like this? And do you see your film as an anti-drug film and would you show it to colleges as a statement for what drug abuse can do?
A.
Yes I would, actually. I do think it does have a serious undertone and anti-drug message; but it's not 'use drugs, you die; sell drugs, you go to jail'. It's showing the lifestyle and then it's up to you.
As for funding, I didn't have enough experience to understand that, either. I realise now that it was kind of hard. But it is considered to be a low-budget film, so it's a low-risk project for everybody.

Q. What was the budget by comparison to one of your videos?
A.
About two and a half videos...

Q. Did you have a lengthy rehearsal process, or did you try and get it fresh?
A.
We didn't do any rehearsals at all, actually. I did one on one meetings and we talked a lot about the characters. I figured the most important thing was to have everyone in character, and understanding their character, and knowing it. We rehearsed on the day, but not before the shoot.

Q. How long was the shoot?
A.
22 days.

Q. Was it almost like you had separate little units of actors?
A.
Kind of, yeah, but we had a second unit crew, but they were shooting, like, doors and cars, and signs, and road signs.

Q. The film is already on DVD in the States, but it's doing good business?
A.
That's what they say; it's doing really well on DVD.

Q. Has there been any controversy in any of the areas it has been shown?
A.
I don't know. Not really. There's only one version of the film. It was part of my job to deliver a censored version of the film, but it's never been used. I think it's an option on the American DVD, but I'm not sure.

Q. Was there anything you wanted to put in the film and then thought, 'I can't, this would be too much'? Or was your vision intact?
A.
Yes, it was all storyboarded before the shoot, and the film is exactly what I storyboarded.

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