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Exclusive interview with Simon Rumley ahead of Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow Premiere of FASHIONISTA


06 February 2017

 

After RED, WHITE AND BLUE and JOHNNY FRANK GARRET’S LAST WORD comes uber-eccentric director Simon Rumley’s third distinctive Austin, Texas, based shocker., this sleekly demented De Palma-esque nightmare is set in the vintage clothing world where hipster shop owners April and Eric find their marriage tested when she begins to suspect her husband of having an affair. Her suspicions confirmed, April seeks sexual validation with the very mysterious and kinky Randall setting off a chain reaction of stylish fever dream madness, vogue fantasy role-playing and chic ultra-shriek.

Ahead of the UK premiere of his latest film FASHIONISTA at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow, Simon Rumley reveals why he’s a fan of drugs in film and his planned foray into London gangster land…

 

Fashionista finds you back in Austin after ‘Red White and Blue’. What excites you about Austin so much? Could ‘Fashionista’ have been set anywhere else?

I had such a great experience on ‘Red White & Blue’ for so many different reasons that it was only natural that, at some point, I’d return to Austin. With Tim League (exec producer), Paul Knauss (co-producer) and Karen Hallford (casting director) I’ve got a great bunch of friends who also happen to be great collaborators and they form the core of both films’ Austin based crew and most probably without them neither films would have happened. Beyond that, I love the unique style of Austin, the food, the music, the cinema, the clothes, the neon lights, the bars and of course the people. And although it’s a place which is constantly growing, it still feels it has an intimacy which places like LA or New York or London lack.

Fashionista’s evolution was very much a response to when I went back there in 2014 for a few days after spending a time there in 2009 and 2010 and noticing how much it had changed. Like most interesting places in the Western World over the last 5 years, it’s become gentrified; there’s more sky rise flats, more traffic, more upmarket restaurants and less locals. And, like most places which have been gentrified, there’s an erosion of some of the things that made it exciting in the first place.

The whole vintage shop phenomena was such a massive part of the Austin that I knew in 2009 and although there are still a lot of these shops, there’s definitely less - even the one we shot in had to relocate literally two weeks after we shot there…So the lead character’s obsession with clothes in the film and her transition from vintage mash-up to designer clothes is probably not something that could believably happen in many places; I’m not sure Fashionista could have been set anywhere else in that case…

 

It’s a film about addiction, from sex and body image to clothes and identity, but not anything drug-related. You didn’t want to throw that into the mix?

I’m a big fan of drugs in films but, to be honest, I think all that needs to have been said has been said so I’m not sure what I would have been able to add to the genre. I’ve always been interested in a period drug film - Alastair Crowley’s Diary of a Drug Fiend for example would offer a different perspective on the subject and I’m currently reading Johny Barleycorn by Jack London which is about his relationship with alcohol - not memoirs of an alcoholic as he’s keen to point out but alcoholic memoirs, set in 1913; fascinating to consider the power of alcohol through the ages.

I watched Christiane F again as research for this film and films like Requiem For A Dream and Trainspotting offer definitive investigations into contemporary drug addiction so I’m not sure what the point would have been but more importantly, the film is about consumerism and clothes are something that everyone can relate to. It’s so easy to buy anything these days and clothes seem to be the epitome of the consumer’s purchasing power. Given that it’s a phenomenon that hasn’t been explored in cinema it felt ripe for investigation.

 

All your movies are so unique, your subject matters, locales and atmospheres feel so new and virtually unexplored. Is that the only way you can personally approach film as an artistic medium?

Ah, thanks! From an early age, I’ve always thought that to make a mark, you should try to do something different, individual and unique. I think this belief is ultimately mis-founded; it might have worked at the beginning of the ‘Midnight’ phenomena for people like Lynch and Jodorowsky and Waters in the early/mid 70s but we’re living in such a culturally anodyne time that increasingly, people really just seem to want things that are similar to things they already know and understand and are thus non-challenging.

In terms of my own creative evolution, I definitely have tried to make every film different from the previous one and much of this is done through structure, editing and the visual aesthetics of the film. The structure to ‘The Living and The Dead’, ‘RWB’ and ‘Fashionista’ are completely different from each other as is the editing and the visuals. It keeps it interesting for me as I continue to explore what cinema is and what can be done with it as a medium.

That said, I’ve been trying to do more straight forward, linear films for a while now but things just haven’t worked out that way…

 

 

READ THE FULL INTERVEW HERE

 

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FASHIONISTA is showing at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Sat 25 Feb, 11.45am as part of Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow 2017

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