One from the home team

More than many filmmakers who emblazon their work with the phrase “a film by” or “a so-and-so film,” Tim Kirkman has a pretty good claim on a label he refuses to accept: auteur. The connectivity between his works so far is inescapably the expression of a strong, single vision.

In a telephone interview about his film Loggerheads, which opens here this week with Kirkman in attendance, we touched on this topic — and a lot of others.

Tim Kirkman:Loggerheads is based on a true story. The two women who started MAJIC [Mothers Against Jesse in Congress] introduced me to the woman who inspired [it]. She kindly shared her story with me and that’s when I realized it would be an interesting film. It was something that appealed to me because it’s so much about North Carolina. The story itself centers around the adoption triad — the birth mother, the adoptive parents and their son. Since adoption laws vary from state to state, it was essential that North Carolina be, in my mind, a character in the movie.”

Ken Hanke: “This is kind of off-topic, but there are an awful lot of gay or GLBT themed films this year.”

TK: “Yes, Transamerica …”

Xpress:Brokeback Mountain, Breakfast on Pluto, your film …”

TK:The Mysterious Skin, which is wonderful.”

Xpress: “I think it’s great that here in Asheville, your film is the first to appear. Is it speaking out of court to ask if any of your cast in Loggerheads are themselves gay?”

TK: “None of the boys are; nobody is actually, none of the leads. The director is! They all were just playing it.”

Xpress: “What was your budget?”

TK: “We did it for less than half a million.”

Xpress: “That’s remarkable for such a great-looking movie. What did you shoot on?”

TK: “Super 16 mm and blew it up to 35 mm.

“One thing I’d like to bring up is that we chose to go out unrated, but there’s no violence, no sex. I think of the movie as a family film. I know it sounds counter to what you think of as a family film, but it really is. It deals with serious themes, but I don’t want people to be afraid of it.”

Xpress: “It’s certainly not exploitative or salacious. I don’t have any problem thinking of it as a family film.”

TK: “But when you hear unrated, people don’t know that. We did not want the 14-year-old adopted kid who can’t talk to his parents yet about his anxiety, about being adopted, to not be able to go to this movie. It was such a disservice to my audience to even risk getting an R.”

Xpress: “Have you got a film in production or in the works?”

TK: “The one that’s probably most interesting to your readers is that I’m directing the film of the Lee Smith book, Family Linen, which we’re planning to shoot in Asheville and the area. I’m directing that in May or June. I’m developing a television series with Fox television. And I’m writing a movie for somewhere down the road that’s an adaptation of a short story by Roseanne Cash.”

Xpress: “Good luck on the TV show in particular, because those are so rarely anyone’s original concept by the time they make it on the air!”

TK: “But nothing in film ever is anyway! It’s such a collaborative art. That’s why I reject the credit: ‘a film by.’ Distributors believe in it, but I’ll never put that on my movies.”

Xpress: “The term used to have some meaning when it was strictly for writer-producer-directors.”

TK: “Now, Garry Marshall gets it! What is that? My agent and my manager are very much into the ‘film by’ thing, and I let them put it on the video box, I let them put it on the poster, but it will never be on the film. And I’ll never allow it on the poster if I didn’t write it as well.”

Xpress: “It says you know it’s more about the film itself than about being a filmmaker.”

TK: “I’ll tell you what it says, because I get this all the time where I’m talking about the movie with a writer and I keep saying ‘we,’ and they say, ‘Who are you talking about?’ It’s me and the crew I’m thinking about. I’m thinking about everybody — the distributor, too — because it is a team, a huge team. You know that. So I think of it as we. It also helps me because if the reviews aren’t good, I get to say, ‘Look how bad we did.’ I don’t feel so alone. There’s some ulterior motives here, too, for my own psychological need!”

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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