Brandon VanVliet (of Restraining Hollywood) Interview
Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: Film, Interviews, Twin Cities.
Last November I met a man by the name of Brandon VanVliet and he presented me with a DVD of a movie that he had made called People Talk. At the time I didn’t know who he was, but I later came to find out that he plays the role of President, Co-Founder, Producer and Director for a local independent film company here in the Twin Cities called Restraining Hollywood.
People Talk is the epitome of a b-movie, it’s gritty footage depicts dialog just as raw as the acting. That’s not a criticism though as it coincides with the company’s mission statement:
“Restraining Hollywood is Located in Minneapolis/St.Paul, Minnesota. We Specialize in Dark Comedies Using local talented actors and musicians. If you’re sick of the same old sappy, crappy big-budget, cliche Hollywood films then look no further!!! It all started in the fall of 03′..A simple idea made up by Braden Palmer & Brandon VanVliet to make indie films & music videos..”
Allowing me some time, VanVliet answered some introductory questions I had at the time, many of which focused on the city’s limited independent film scene, People Talk, and his company’s forthcoming feature Trust Me. The following took place over the course of a few emails last November, Trust Me is scheduled for release this summer.
In terms of direction and the film’s theme, where did you draw from for inspiration?
Brandon VanVliet: Aaron Palmer (DJ Skagnetti), who used to work with Restraining Hollywood, came to me with the idea for People Talk (in the) Summer of ‘04 while I was making my first film – a comedy/horror called Up North. I fell in love with the idea and we had a blast making People Talk. I guess it was slightly based on a similar situation Aaron had dealt with years ago while trying to throw a birthday party…or attending a birthday party…or something. You’ll have to ask him – our influences came from each other, real life situations and our environment.
It’s a bit tacky, but Kanye West has this line “people never give em flowers while they can still smell em.” While I equate the meaning behind the story’s ending to something along those lines, were you aiming for a particular message when writing the story?
Brandon VanVliet: No, not really, we just did that shocking ending to throw the viewer off and end it in a charmingly disturbing manner! If there was any message at all it would an an exploitation of the type of characters in the film who tend to be quite like most people in this day and age; rude, flaky, self-centered and egotistical. No, I’m not trying to make films with a message, nor am I trying to educate – I’m just trying to entertain you.
I haven’t really heard much about an independent movie scene in Minneapolis, how did you get involved and are there any contemporaries worth looking in to?
Brandon VanVliet: I always wanter to make films and be in films as far as I can remember. I never had the equipment or the know-how when I was younger. Then in 1999 when I was twenty-one I moved to The Cities to go to broadcasting school. After that I went to acting/modeling school for a minute. Then in 2003, while I was DJing at a strip club in Minneapolis and finding myself quite bored and miserable, I realized that if I didn’t get my ass in gear I’d miss my window – so I sort of jumped in head first. I started writing short stories that ended up becoming scripts, bought a camera, got a computer with editing software, put a crew together, etc.
As for the Minneapolis film scene, there definitely is one…sad to say it’s pretty small…it’s nowhere as big as the music scene. There is good stuff worth checking out, you definitely have to look real hard though. In this day and age anyone can take a crappy little hand-held camera, film something, edit it, put music on it, put it on the internet and call themselves a “filmmaker;” there are a few cats in the city that are doing cool stuff though.
What kind of mistakes did you make with the production that you’d like to avoid with your next film?
Brandon VanVliet: Oh, lots of mistakes – the kind you learn real fast from! As far as People Talk goes, there are a lot of things wrong with it and a lot of things that make it unique and fun! It’s a great second film and I’m proud of it…I don’t ever want to watch it again, but it’s still special to me in a weird way. The biggest mistake(s) I’ve had with my production is working with people that want to get into this whole film making thing for the wrong reasons – you have to be real careful about who you work with on a project. Nine times out of ten people are usually the worst part about film making. Everyone wants to help out or be a part of it until you give them a script or assign them a little work – then they tend to scramble and the complaints start to pour in; lots of dreamers and not enough doers! I’m glad I’ve experienced some bad luck – I learned my lesson and I’m better because of it. We’ve got a great new team now and I’m excited!
The soundtrack is a bit strange in terms of being compiled by local and international acts…what factors helped influence the direction you went when choosing the film’s music?
Brandon VanVliet: The main character, Vincent, is a musician so we wanted a very musically-driven film. There are a lof of great genres – alt. rock, metal, hip hop and electronica all mixed up on the soundtrack. A big influence was that a lot of my friends are in bands around The Cities so I used lots of their music for the project. I pretty much begged and they said yes.
What are you planning for your next film?
Brandon VanVliet: Well, the next film is already show and we’re in the process of editing it. It’s called Trust Me and there’s so much to say about this one that I don’t even know where to start – we are scheduled to release this one late Spring/early Summer of 2008. We will have pictures and the first trailer up by January on our website and MySpace. I will say this, it’s about a lawyer that gets busted for a crime he didn’t commit…he has to go to treatment…while in treatment he realizes he was set up so he hires a P.I. to find this mysterious man…
I’m just going to leave it at that, we have some great actors in this one – not to mention another scorching soundtrack!
What is your relationship with Restraining Hollywood?
Brandon VanVliet: I’d like to think I have a good relationship with Restraining Hollywood – I’m the company’s Co-Founder, President, whatever… We’re on our third film and I’ve produced, directed, written, acted, budgeted all of them. I don’t know – it’s all I do and all I want to do. We also do music videos: for more information people can go to the website. Restraining Hollywood is like a psycho ex-girlfriend I can’t get rid of.