August 21, 2012

Q&A with The Bunny Game's Adam Rehmeier

Love it or loathe it, Adam Rehmeier's The Bunny Game has punched viewers square in the face over recent weeks, you can check out my thoughts on the movie here. Recently, Adam was kind enough to find the time in what has proved to be a hectic couple of weeks to answer a few question I put forward to him, about The Bunny Game and more!

Hi, Adam

Thanks for taking the time to talk to The Lair of Filth.

LoF- Your movie, The Bunny Game, was made in 2010 and has just been released on Blu-ray and DVD. It must be an enormously satisfying feeling?

AR - It’s trippy holding the finished disc in my hand. Everything is so nicely packaged. THE BUNNY GAME is a personal film and evolved over many years so it didn’t follow a typical production/post-production timeline like most films. The genesis of the film dates back to 2006, the production occurred in 2008, I edited and scored the film in 2009 and it was completed and was first screened in 2010. The last two years have been about getting the film out into the world and in front of audiences. We’ve had amazing support from bloggers, podcasters and festival programmers in the genre community. We’ve screened THE BUNNY GAME in over 20 film festivals around the world. 

LoF - The film has been released by Autonomy Pictures, and they have done a terrific job, what made you choose this company? I believe The Bunny Game is their first release?

AR - The deal with Autonomy came through my sales agent, Julian Richards, of Jinga Films. I was excited to work with them and already admired their collective work: Lewis Tice [Danger After Dark], David Gregory [Severin Films, THE THEATER BIZARRE], Derek Curl [THE INNKEEPERS, THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, STAKE LAND]. THE BUNNY GAME is indeed Autonomy’s first release. They’ve done an amazing job with the HD transfer, the packaging, and the extra features. 

LoF - The Bunny Game, which I think is very good, is one of those films that has really divided audiences. There are those that love it and those that hate it, with no real middle ground. Is this something you expected? It certainly isn’t easy viewing.

AR - THE BUNNY GAME is not an easy view. It’s not for the casual viewer. It’s a horrific experience, and consciously, you make a decision within the first scene to ride it out or bail. There truly is no middle ground by design. The performances from Rodleen Getsic and Jeff Renfro are uncompromising and realistic. I’m not a huge fan of tepid horror or horror comedies. Audiences sometimes want a breather after a kill scene, they demand relief. When you don’t give it to them, when you are relentless, it makes them uncomfortable. THE BUNNY GAME is a film that required me to be relentless with the pacing and atmosphere to match the intensity of Rodleen and Jeff. Obviously, it’s risky, as you alienate some of the genre audience. Filmmaking for me isn’t about pleasing people, it’s about best serving the story at hand. If I were to make a slasher film next, certain rules would apply. For THE BUNNY GAME, we didn’t employ traditional filmmaking methods. 

LoF- A lot of what I have read about The Bunny Game seems to focus on the
obvious; the intensely violent situation in which Bunny finds herself. However, when I watched it, I found there to be more going on, especially in scenes with the trucker, on his own. Was this important to you when making the film?

AR - Personally, I find the moments where you are alone with the trucker just as unnerving as anything in the film. There is so much tension and anticipation, yet restraint on Jeff’s part. Several years ago, in the dead of night, I sat outside my office and watched a cat toy with a mouse for 20 minutes. It’s really intense to watch a creature dominate a weaker one, to not kill it when it easily could. It seems to violate a basic predatory code, suddenly the experience becomes one for pleasure or curiosity. When I edited the film, it was something that was on my mind.

LoF - Rodleen Getsic really submerges herself into her role as Bunny. When the two of you were writing the film did either of you anticipate how intense it would be?

AR - There was never any doubt that THE BUNNY GAME was going to be an intense and intuitive experience. Rodleen fasted for 40 days prior to the production and completely changed her morphology for the film. She designed the clothing she would wear, changed her hair color, bought some really big platforms shoes that made her tower over most people on the street. We never pressured ourselves with time for THE BUNNY GAME. After Gregg Gilmore backed out of the film, we kicked ideas around for a few years and let things develop organically through photo shoots. The production itself was very intense. We shot in some very heavy and sad locations around LA. There was no crew except me, so there was this overwhelming feeling of vulnerability, which added to the atmosphere on set. Rodleen and I both went into the film wanting to stay honest to the situation. We didn’t sugarcoat or romanticize the life of a prostitute. 

LoF - By the same token, Jeff Renfro also gives a brutal performance. How did he first react to the script?

AR - When I took Rodleen out to meet Renfro, he agreed to do the film on the spot, though he had some reservations a week or so later. Since I had a brutal encounter with Renfro on a set in Montana years earlier, he had always been in the back of my head as this beautiful wild card, someone that I definitely thought I could work with down the road. Of course, he is not a trained actor. He’s a trucker and transpo captain. In person, he’s larger than life, just a fascinating guy! When he had doubts on doing the film, I offered a solution to set his mind at ease. I told him I was going to do an in-home demonstration, bring my camera out and shoot for 10 minutes and then play my footage back through his television. If he thought it was shit, he didn’t have to do the film. I went out and shot for 10 minutes and when we watched it back, he was ecstatic! Outside of that in-home demonstration, we didn’t meet up face-to-face for more than a few times prior to the production. I didn’t block scenes while making THE BUNNY GAME. I think it would have been a little overwhelming for Jeff. It was all about creating 360-degree sets and keeping the performances raw and in the moment. 

LoF - What is the current status of The Bunny Game in the UK? Is there any chance the film will get a release there? Or is the ban pretty much set in stone?

AR - I’m pretty sure THE BUNNY GAME won’t be released in the UK any time soon. It has been banned outright. Apparently, no amount of cutting will change their decision. Right now, the BBFC is busy putting together focus groups to justify their decisions on extreme cinema. The focus groups will screen films like THE BUNNY GAME, A SERBIAN FILM, and THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE II and then give feedback to the BBFC. They are also offering free psychological counseling for any of the focus group members that require it after these screenings. 

LoF - The film is in black and white, was there a specific reason for this? Personally I think it looks great.

AR - For me, black & white strips everything down to a primal level. It keeps the focus on the action and removes the psychological visual cues that color creates. 

LoF - If you were going to sell The Bunny Game to me, how would you pitch it?


LoF - With The Bunny Game now sitting happily on store shelves, and in collections across the country, what is next on the cards for you? A new movie?

AR - Right now, I’m still doing some sound work on my 2nd feature JONAS and putting together some new projects: a tripped out sci-fi film, more genre madness + some dark comedies.

I'd like to once again thank Adam for his time answering these questions. The Bunny Game is available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Autonomy Pictures.

No comments: