Writer/director Quentin Dupieux, the man behind Rubber, has given us his most absurdist film yet with Wrong Cops. It is not so much a movie as it is a collection of sketches about crooked cops who are involved in a number of illegal activities. There is a main through line, however, and it involves an innocent bystander who gets accidentally shot by one of the cops. When they try to figure out the best way to get rid of the body, they find that the wounded man proves to be rather useful, even while he’s bleeding to death.
Despite having a low budget and very little time to make Wrong Cops, Dupieux was still able to bring together a strong cast that includes Marilyn Manson (himself a big fan of Rubber), Grace Zabriskie, Ray Wise and Jennifer Blanc. It also reunites him with Mark Burnham (who plays the same character here as he did in another Dupieux film, Wrong) and with Steve Little.
We were lucky enough to catch up Dupieux the day after Wrong Cops had its star studded premiere at the Vista Theatre in Los Angeles. During our conversation, he talked about what inspired him to make the movie, which originally began as short film to promote his music, what it was like working with Marilyn Manson, and why he likes to work on smaller budget movies as opposed to big Hollywood productions.
Check it out below and enjoy!
How was the premiere at the Vista Theatre?
Quentin Dupieux: It was really fun. That was really nice because it was the first time with everybody from the cast and crew. It was more than a premiere, it was like the first time with an audience.
I was there and it was a very lively premiere, and it was great nice to see all the actors there.
Quentin Dupieux: Yeah and they were so excited. Only (Marilyn) Manson saw the movie before the premiere and Mark (Burnham), the lead, but all the others have just discovered it.
How would you say it was received at the Vista Theatre?
Quentin Dupieux: It was really great, but the room was full of, like I said, the crew, the actors, some friends and some random people too. I heard a lot of good laughs, which is the point, and that’s the only reason why I did this movie, you know?
What was the inspiration for this movie?
Quentin Dupieux: Inspiration is everywhere. Like I always say, you can’t just go into a zone in your brain and try to find ideas because that’s not the way it works. Usually ideas come to you just because if you’re open to the writing process, you don’t even need to think about it. The good ideas just arrive. You’re doing something else and then, “Oh this is funny! I should write this!” Usually I’m not thinking. I’m not trying to write. That’s my writing method; I trust my instinct first and usually I don’t have to think about it. Ideas come to me.
When you are doing a production like this, what is the most challenging aspect of filmmaking that you come across?
Quentin Dupieux: It’s challenging on many levels. First I have to deal with something really strange. For example, this was the first time working with Eric Wareheim (who plays Renato). We know each other a little bit, but this was the first time working with him. So the weird thing is Eric arrives on set at 8:00. We don’t know each other well and after 30 minutes of prep we have to shoot, and that’s weird. We have to find a connection. We’re not brothers obviously. So when he arrives on set, that’s a challenge. We make sure we’re going to shoot good stuff even if we don’t know each other well. Then on the second day it’s perfect and everything goes easier, so that’s the first challenge I think.
The other one, which I like to deal with, is the short amount of time we have. I hate waiting on a set. That’s why I’m not using any artificial lights. That’s why I’m operating the camera myself, because this way we are always, always shooting, shooting, shooting, shooting, shooting. I’m just like a stupid kid. I want to spend more time playing with toys. But that’s not a real challenge because that’s what I do every time I shoot a movie. I never have three months to shoot a movie. It’s always around 20 days, 15 for Rubber.
And then another challenge on a movie like this, on Wrong Cops especially because the script was written very quickly and that was the idea behind it, is I wanted to do something fresh without polishing the script and without thinking too much about it. That’s another challenge, to make sure we are not filming shit because when you write a script in three weeks, you know everything is not perfect. Some dialogue is not great, some scenes are useless and during the shoot the time is so precious that you have to make sure you’re not spending five hours on a bad scene.
So that, I think is the biggest challenge on a movie like this because you can lose much time doing something you won’t use after you edit. I think it’s a very different process than normal movies. Normal movies you have time to shoot, you have time to reshoot, and you just follow the script because it’s been written by five guys.
On a film like this, you have to be super, how do you say, careful because time is so important. It’s better to spend two hours on a good joke than two hours on the car driving for example. Sometimes you have to get rid of a scene like, “Okay we do not have time for this and it’s not funny and I’m not going to use it.” So yeah, it’s really tricky, but again, I love to work like this because I love the time limits, the money limits. I get more creative when I’m doing this.