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Move over, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE and TROLL 2—there’s a new best-worst movie in town! BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR has shocked and delighted critics and audiences alike (see our review here) as it has made its way across the big screen. Officially rejected from Sundance 2009 but already a cult favorite, it’s continuing to invade cities across the U.S. (including special midnight encore screenings this weekend at New York City’s IFC Center). After a recent showing, Fango got to sit down with director James Nguyen to find out about the origins of this unique cinematic experience.
FANGORIA: What made you want to be in the film business?
JAMES NGUYEN: I got into movies by accident. I loved the movies. I always appreciated romantic thrillers like SOMEWHERE IN TIME with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. The chick flick is not enough for me; there has to be some mystery, suspense, a basic suspense side to it, and I found that in Hitchcock cinema. I still have a day job, but if I could make a living making movies, I would love that.
FANG: Is Alfred Hitchcock your biggest influence?
NGUYEN: Yes. I went to the film school of Hitchcock cinema. All my movies are romantic thrillers, and they were inspired by watching his films. VERTIGO is considered his greatest movie, and it’s like a blueprint for me. I didn’t go to a formal film school, but as far as telling a story cinematically, I was heavily influenced by his work.
FANG: If Hitchcock sat and watched BIRDEMIC with you, what kind of reaction would you hope to get from him?
NGUYEN: Very tough question. All I can say is, I made this film with very little money, it’s an independent movie, and I would hope he would appreciate the spirit of it.
FANG: THE BIRDS is listed among your top five favorite films, but did you ever read the short story by Daphne du Maurier?
NGUYEN: No, I never did. But I did read the BIRDS script and watched the movie many times. When I was 8 or 9 years old, that was the first time I saw THE BIRDS on the TV. I was scared by the scene with Tippi Hedren in the phone booth and the seagulls pounding on the glass. It stuck in my mind. Part of BIRDEMIC was inspired by THE BIRDS, but it’s contemporary and new in its own way.
FANG: A remake of THE BIRDS is currently in the works; do you think it should be made, and will you go see it?
NGUYEN: I would love to see a remake—and would love it more if they hired me as the director!
FANG: Any advice for wannabe filmmakers?
NGUYEN: Yes: Tell a good story. Tell a story that compels you as a filmmaker. Try to get some financing, a budget, a crew, but if all else fails, work with what you have, like I did with BIRDEMIC.
FANG: I noticed an underlying “green” message weaved throughout the movie. Was that done on purpose?
NGUYEN: I don’t like to send a message. If you want to send a message, use the post office. But there are environmental elements in this movie. The biggest question is, why do the vultures and eagles attack?—and maybe it has something to do with the environment.
FANG: How do you feel about audiences’ reaction to the film?
NGUYEN: I was surprised. BIRDEMIC is supposed to be a very serious movie, and there were more laughs than I expected. I was startled, but I am happy about it. I will accept it as is.
FANG: Are you enjoying the overall acceptance of the movie so far?
NGUYEN: I feel great. It’s like a dream come true. Every morning since this whole thing started, I wake up and ask myself, “Is this a dream or is it real?” I pinch myself and realize this is real. I’m very happy and very appreciative.
FANG: What can we expect from the sequel, BIRDEMIC: THE RESURRECTION?
NGUYEN: It’s going to be very interesting. I’ll be patient and see how BIRDEMIC performs, and if everything works out, I may get a studio to back up the financing and make it in 3-D. Can you envision this: a platoon of eagles and vultures coming at your face in 3-D? It’ll be very shocking and terrifying. That’s going be awesome. But it’s got a very compelling story too. It answers why the birds attack. There will be a few good laughs, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.
For more info on BIRDEMIC and when and where you can see it, click here.
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