Luke Owen sits down with Ana Lily Amirpour to talk her vampire movie A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night…
LO: Would you class A Girl Who Walks Home Alone at Night as a Horror film? You grew up watching Horror Movies, what do you think of the genre in 2015?
ALA: I personally don’t like categorizing films at all, in general. Especially the kinds of films I watch and make. I would say they don’t tend to come off in black and white. I wouldn’t, myself. There can be horror aspects in lots of movies that wouldn’t necessarily be thought of this way. American Beauty, to me, is a horror film. I guess it depends on what upsets you
Vampire films have been around for 100+ years. How hard was it to come up with something so fresh and original?
When you set out to make a film it’s not like you think to yourself ‘hey let’s make something fresh and original’. I’d say it would kill you thinking that way. When I make a film, I do it because I’m swept off my own feet by an idea or by a character or a story. You make a film and you have to talk about it and work on it for years, so I was really aware of that. I just did something that I loved really hard, hard loved, every single aspect of the film. I was paying really close attention to details and making things that really turned me on. I liked vampires and I wanted to do something different, I wanted to do an Iranian vampire. I wanted to create the town and I just built the whole mythology bit by bit and paid close attention to the details that I liked. It came out as fresh and original and that’s just a lucky and cool result.
Did you always intend for the film to be shot in black and white?
Yes, I did actually. I’m not a huge fan of black and white films but for this film and the characters, and the world as it is. It was kind of a surrealist. I was looking at Rumble Fish a lot, I like that film, and although it’s black and white it doesn’t feel like a black and white film, to me, for some reason. I just like that particular approach to it. I took cues from that, and did my own thing. It was always black and white for girl. My new film is in colour.
You’ve said that this movie is very “John Hughes-like”, what other Directors have inspired you?
I love David Lynch. He inspires me in a way that is not an anatomical thing. I don’t think you can emulate a David Lynch film, I think his films are so specific, so of his mind, that’s not the point. I’m really inspired by how limitless his film making is, there are no walls. His films can be as intricate as a dream, anywhere, it doesn’t have to follow the rules that we live in, it can really be free. I find that inspiring. I love that. I love Werner Hezog’s philosophy to film making. I’ve seen all his films. I like the way he thinks of himself as a film maker and how it approaches it. I love Robert Zemeckis. To me Zemeckis is like my Orson Wells. Back to the Future or Contact or Romancing the Stone, Death Becomes Her. He’s made so many films, he’s so awesome. The kind or Hollywood, really well made, fun and adventure films that I watched when I was a kid.
You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that various elements and locations of the film were based on your childhood in Bakersfield. What aspects did you specifically take and use within the film?
I shot in a town where I went to High School, in Bakersfield. I knew the town. That’s why I picked those areas. Most of the film was shot in Pathe, that is not were I grew up. I knew about those towns, those small shitty towns. I knew those areas. The film isn’t about childhood, because of the location, but that is where I grew up so I knew about this weird desert and all the oil refinieries, dessert wastelasnd. It’s really cinematic. That was my stomping ground.
Do you think the movie is making a political statement about gender politics- did you ever intend for it to do so?
I don’t do that kind of thing. I don’t think like that at all. No, I think after a film exists or a song or piece of art, people can engage with it. They need to. There is something badass and heroic about the vampire in my film, and she is definitely a force to be reckoned with and wants to teach people a lesson. That film is a 2 hour look at a very specific things of happening. I don’t tend to think that way. I think people are much more complicated than that.
The movie toured really well around festivals- how was that for you?
It’s great! I’m a little separated from it at this point. I went to the first two festivals. I went to Sundance in the US and the Directors in New York. I haven’t been to anything else with the film. It’s a little abstract to me. I hear or see on twitter people talking about the film, I think it’s cool because it’s the kind of film that people continue to discover. It’s like when your kids finish college, you’re sort of done with it in a way and you hope it does well in the world.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is out on Digital HD 20th July and Blu-ray and DVD 27th July .