THE BEGINNING OF MY DAVID SLADE INTERVIEW
The whole thing is in the new Filmmaker, which we just sent to the printer, but Hard Candy is opening this Friday and it’s an amazing first film, so I’m putting up the first part of my interview with director David Slade to whet your appetite for both the film and the magazine.
Filmmaker: Having worked for years in commercials and music videos, how did Hard Candy wind up becoming your first feature?
Slade: I’d been offered a lot of scripts, but this was the first thing that took me back to the roots of why I wanted to become a filmmaker, which was seeing Nicholas Roeg’s Performance. Performance hit me like a brick — it really moved me, intrigued me and kept me on the edge of my seat, particularly the first half with Edward Fox. It was only later when I was [learning] the language of filmmaking and cinematography that I realized that part of what hit me was that Roeg’s craft had informed the emotions of the film as much as its storyline did. So, Nicholas Roeg was the man who made me want to become a director, and [Hard Candy] is a script Roeg would have done, a harrowing relationship story with many, many subtexts, with questions that can’t be answered unless you answer them yourself and don’t tell anybody. I think that in this climate, right now, a film that can make the audience ask themselves a question is important.
Filmmaker: And what do you think that question is?
Slade: I would say this film asks you to acutely evaluate what your prejudices are.
Filmmaker: Your prejudices towards…?
Slade: Your prejudices toward sexuality, where you personally draw the lines of pornography, what you deem acceptable and what you don’t. The film’s two characters are monsters. The only thing redeeming about Hayley is that she’s at that uncertain age where passion drives her life. Morally, she has no redeeming features. The only thing that allows you to identify her as a human being is that she is doing what morally should be the right thing, but she’s going so far over the line. In a world where we’ve see so many monsters, from rubber men in suits to CGI creations, monsters just aren’t scary anymore. The one monster left could be a pedophile, because crimes against children are the worst crimes of all. So, Jeff is the scariest monster human society has left. And this character was beautifully written by Brian, because here you are identifying with someone who morality and society says you can’t. So there alone, you question your prejudices. Another thing that really attracted me to the screenplay was that Brian Nelson had managed to [construct] arguments and put them into the words of human beings who talk in a way that people talk. That’s such an astonishingly hard thing to do.
Filmmaker: Did you go into this film with a specific political or social intent you wanted to express?
Slade: Politically speaking I’m a solipsist — I believe I’m the only one who exists in the world and no one else is around! Or, like any other existentialist nihilist, I have poor politics. But I abhor conservatism in the non-political sense, and so the film is something that gets a hold of values, goes “wham,” and says, “Now put them back together.”