Filmmaker Addison Heath Discusses New Feature THE PERFECT NONSENSE
THE PERFECT NONSENSE, is an absurdist comedy that sees the unlikely pairing of Jaythan Rubin (Kenji Shimada), a socially awkward office worker with Bethany ‘G-Code’ Jones (Kristen Condon), a street wise gangsta rapper, as they roam a nonsensical wasteland together. While having flirted with the genre in the past, this film marks the first foray into more direct comedy for filmmaker Addison Heath, who penned 2013’s CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY VANILLA (2013) and the multi-award-winning, UNDER A KALEIDOSCOPE (2014) in which he both wrote and directed.
We were fortunate enough to catch up with Addison Heath, ahead of the film’s world premiere on Friday at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival, to discuss everything from the genesis of the film through to forthcoming projects.
MONSTER: THE PERFECT NONSENSE, is the first feature that you’ve co-written. What lead to the decision to form a collaborative partnership on the writing of this film and how did the process differ from how you’ve worked in the past?
ADDISON HEATH: I have been working with Jasmine Jakupi (Co-writer and Cinematographer of THE PERFECT NONSENSE) for the last few years and we had previously written an unproduced screenplay together so it seemed like a good fit for this project. We both have a very similar sense of humour and we like a lot of the same films, which helps. We are also co-directing our next feature together, a Japanese horror film called THE VIPER’S HEX.
MONSTER: While both CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY VANILLA & UNDER A KALEIDOSCOPE have a sense of humour about them, they are a fusion of drama and thriller whereas THE PERFECT NONSENSE is a comedy, an absurdist comedy at that, what inspired you to take the plunge head-on into this particular genre?
AH: We started with the idea of crossing absurdist, midnight movie stylings with 80’s John Hughes romantic comedies and built the structure around that. In the previous films I was experimenting with tonal shifts. I like feeling on my toes when watching a movie and to feel like I have no idea where it’s going. With THE PERFECT NONSENSE we wanted to push the surreal elements that we have previously dabbled in.. turn up the Nonsense to 11!
M: Were there any key influences, either literary or filmic behind this film?
AH: As I mentioned before, John Hughes was a huge influence.. We also wanted the film to feel like a Junkyard Fairytale.. GUMME meets ALICE IN WONDERLAND…We were also very influenced by gangsta rap music.. I was listening to the Geto Boys a lot while writing the treatment and they served as a big influence.
M: With principal photography have taken place in mid-May and the film premiering this Friday September 9th, it seems THE PERFECT NONSENSE has come together in record time. Was the project envisioned as being one with such a swift turnaround?
AH: Absolutely.. It was the plan from the start to shoot the film in 5 days. I remember a few years back hearing Shane Meadows (THIS IS ENGLAND, DEAD MAN’S SHOES) talking about a company he was running that was called ‘Five-Day-Features’…which was basically a challenge for film makers to see if they could shoot a feature in that amount of time. I loved the idea immediately. Shooting with such a quick schedule meant that energy was high all the time. It was designed to be a creative explosion.. short and sharp. We had also planned to shoot and edit it in time specifically for the Melbourne Underground Film Festival as we thought this film would be great for the MUFF crowd. We had a fantastic time last year showing UAK and we’re incredibly excited for this premiere.
M: What challenges did you face on such a fast-paced production?
AH: It was surprisingly the most fun, easiest shoot I’ve worked on to date. Because it was so quick and we were running around constantly, it was just a lot of fun. We also were fortunate to secure some amazing shooting locations like Fairy Park, Kryal Castle.. every day we were doing something brand new and it kept everything fresh. A truly unique and wonderful film making experience.
M: THE PERFECT NONSENSE reunites several of the cast members from your previous film, UNDER A KALEIDOSCOPE, in particular the two leads, Kenji Shimada & Kristen Condon. Were the characters written with them in mind to play the roles?
AH: In some ways this film is a spiritual sequel to UNDER A KALEIDOSCOPE. Some similar themes are explored and we’re still experimenting with tonal shifts. We did hold auditions for the roles but I was always thinking of Kenji and Kristen for these parts. They have a great chemistry, they are collaborative and most of all just really fun to be around. They were troopers on this film too.. we were constantly pushed for time and stressing.. Fortunately they were both 100% ready for the challenge and the shoot went as smooth as a micro-budget film shoot can go.
M: The film has an extensive cast list with quite a few performers making their on-screen debuts, some of whom have worked with you before, behind the camera. Can you enlighten as to how it was working with non-traditional actors on the shoot?
AH: It was great.. a hilarious experience. Dylan Heath and Bill Clare (Producers of THE PERFECT NONSENSE) were totally game to come on board and act in the film. I’m incredibly honoured to be able to have people around me that believe in the project and work their asses off. It was just a matter of time before I got to torture them IN FRONT of the camera. Non-actors tend to have less boundaries and have more to prove.. All the actors we got to work with on this film were great.
M: What can audiences expect from THE PERFECT NONSENSE?
AH: Audiences can expect something that is part love story, part gangsta story, a little woodland romp and hopefully a few laughs along the way.
M: Given this project has been produced during post-production on MONDO YUKAZA, how far away are we from seeing MONDO YUKAZA, itself?
AH: MONDO will be having it’s World premiere this year, I can promise that. Mondo is filled with post effects and is a much larger production, which is why it is taking a while to get it all together. We can’t wait to show the film though, it’s been a total labour of love. Get ready to get MONDO!
M: Both your production company, BLACK FOREST FILMS and yourself have been quite vocal about your next project, THE VIPER’S HEX, which proposes to be a dark horror film, can you tell us a little about that one?
AH: Definitely. We are doing a micro-budget Japanese horror film called THE VIPER’S HEX which is being shot in Tokyo and Hakuba in Japan. It’s a pitch-black, ultra-violent horror film. It’s the first time we’re making a film without comedic elements. We’re hoping to make the feel-bad movie of the winter!.. Saya Minami (Mondo Yakuza) and Kenji are playing the leads. It’s very loosely based on an old Japanese folklore tale called Kiyohime. It will be completely different to anything we have made previously and we are shooting it in January. The snake woman will rise!
M: You are becoming quite prolific in your output, how do you manage to stay so motivated?
AH: I wish I had a better answer for this but I just love working. Writing, shooting, post-production.. I love all of it. I am also heavily influenced by Japanese film makers like Takashi Miike and Sion Sono and those guys are often putting out three movies a year.. sometimes more. I am also lucky to have an awesome crew that keep coming back.
M: Care to share the best film you’ve seen this year thus far and do you have a forthcoming release you’re psyched for?
AH: Awesome question!.. This year I am tossing up between two films.. Park Chan-Wook’s THE HANDMAIDEN and The Daniels’ SWISS ARMY MAN. THE HANDMAIDEN was everything I have come to love from that director and more. It is a mind-blowing cinema experience. SWISS ARMY MAN was just bonkers and managed to have a bunch of heart and is a surprisingly beautiful film. As for the rest of the year.. I got three word…THE.. GREASY…STRANGLER. Bring it!
Thank you for time, Addison. Best of luck with the world premiere of THE PERFECT NONSENSE on Friday and with all of your future projects.
THE PERFECT NONSENSE has its world premiere at the 17th Melbourne Underground Film Festival this Friday September 9th, while the 8PM session has sold out, a second session at 9:30pm is on sale now and you can grab a ticket here.