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While admittedly not for all, the realm of surrealist, pure
cinema is often exemplary at evoking a journey in an audience. It can be a
sensory plunge into another realm; one consistently surprising, often befuddling, but sometimes transforming your element from start to finish. Calvin
Lee Reeder’s THE OREGONIAN, having flown under the radar since its premiere at
2011’s Sundance Film Festival, opens tomorrow at Brooklyn’s ReRun Gastropub
Theater*, and FANGORIA caught up with Reeder to discuss his unsettling trip
with a nameless character into undiscovered land.
“Leaving behind a desultory and potentially abusive
existence, a beautiful farm girl, known only as The Oregonian (Lindsay Pulsipher),
rushes headlong into an unknown future.” That’s all you’ll get from its
synopsis, and truthfully, this talk won’t give you much more, except a feeling
that if you consider yourself brave, and open, THE OREGONIAN may be for you.
FANGORIA: Given the title and locale, I'm curious about the
idea of the Pacific Northwest being a pocket of strangeness, and odd energy.
Did that feed into THE OREGONIAN at all, and what's your own take on this
CALVIN LEE REEDER: You know the word “Oregonian” to me has a
strange shape to it independent of its actual meaning. I loved the mystery of
the title, and carried it around with me for a few years before I even knew what
the movie was about.
I guess it is a pocket of strangeness up there. I was born
into it, so it didn't really occur to me until I moved away. That said, I tried
to create a place that doesn't exist for the movie. We shot as far north as
Ravensdale, WA and as far south as 29 Palms, CA. We jammed it all together,
scrambled it and folded it over like a subconscious omelet.
FANG: Is there a lot of yourself in THE OREGONIAN? Is the
lead character's journey expressive of one you feel you've taken?
REEDER: It's possible. I think everyone is sort of going on
that journey. Most things are unknown to us, but we have created a lot of
bullshit to obscure that fact. We made a
system and agreed upon it. There's a lot of confident people out there so sure
they know what’s going on. I don't think anyone knows shit, it's all temporary.
There's a lot of primitive, barbaric, unknowable stuff out there and it isn't
hard to find.
FANG: In making challenging and abstract work, is there an
atmosphere or emotion you specifically hope to evoke in its audience, or do you
enjoy folks taking what they will? Do you enjoy being offered interpretations
of your work?
REEDER: I'm really just happy to have an audience. I can
only try to evoke emotion, there's no way everyone will feel the same about it.
If people are feeling the same blend of dread, curiosity and excitement I was when
conceiving/making the film, that's really good news, but that's for them. I'll
never really know.
I don't mind hearing different interpretations of my work,
there's no wrong way to interpret any movie if you ask me.
FANG: You seem lucky
to have found a kindred spirit in Lindsay Pulsipher. Was it hard discovering
other actors completely open to the world?
REEDER: You are very right, meeting Lindsay elevated
everything. She makes the worlds we create real, she's a natural talent. As far
as meeting other actors I'd say it's been pretty easy. Actors want to do
interesting things and if they like my stuff they show up ready for battle.
I've really been fortunate that way.
FANG: Something like THE OREGONIAN can be out of many
viewers' elements. Have you found it difficult for audiences to judge the film
on its own terms, and not through comparisons of other surrealist filmmakers?
REEDER: You know, I wish more audiences would compare it to
surrealist works but most of those films are foreign and old, so that limits
the general public's knowledge/interest right away. I've found the more curious
the audience the better it plays. You don't have to know all of Bunuel or
Tarkovsky's stuff to enjoy it, but people who are open to that type of cinema
seem to respond better to it. It's when
folks frame it as a horror film is when I think it get's devalued. I do get a
lot of David Lynch comparisons. It's cool, but there's a lot more out there
people should know about before they become film bloggers.
FANG: How is THE RAMBLER progressing? Is there an
overarching theme you're searching within, in tales like THE RAMBLER and THE
REEDER: THE RAMBLER is going really good. I guess I'm still
probing the unknown but THE RAMBLER is a very different movie. I think it will
*If outside New York, THE OREGONIAN is currently available on Netflix Instant
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