Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story): An interview with director Eva Husson
The writer and director of Bang Gang: A Modern Love Story, Eva Husson, talks to The Upcoming about staying motivated, her opinions on shock value in today’s cinema, her inspiration for the film and what it is to be a female director telling this story.
Congratulations on the film. So to start, can you tell us a bit about the process in getting Bang Gang: A Modern Love Story made?
Oh my God it takes forever, I will spare you the whole process, you would die of boredom and despair! It takes years to make a movie, it took six years.
Is it hard to stay motivated in that time?
Oh yeah, it is really hard, sometimes you think no one will like this ever, why would they? And you just want to kill yourself! You go online and try to find a new career, the choice is between a waitress or working with kids, but you have no shared interests with them, then you want to kill yourself again. Then a week passes, then a year. Then suddenly someone tells you, this is amazing I have always wanted to make a movie like this, I think it will be fantastic. Then the financing starts and suddenly you have ten people, then 20, then 100 who think the same thing, and it is magical. You find yourself on the set with a crew of 50 and you stand back and you realise that everyone is there thanks to your craziness. It is quite moving actually, and sometimes you just want to kill yourself again (Laughter).
It is a lot of up and downs, and it reflects, a little bit, the characters in the film. It is just very hard to make a movie. You have to have good material but you have to have luck, to find the right people. I have done a couple of projects where the fit wasn’t right and it was a nightmare.
In that situation do you say it isn’t working…?
No, you sink with the boat, which I have done on a previous project. It was too crazy, too many people not wanting the same thing and being immature and I include myself in that. We just could not let go and say this isn’t working and instead we spent a million dollars. I guess that was part of the big lesson for me. I just realised it is much better to say no then sink with the ship, as it is very hard to come back. So even though there were times that were hard in this movie, I wanted to keep going.
So how did you get the idea for this particular story?
I came across a piece of news one day and was like, there are weird people doing weird s*@t, and I thought, I want to know these weird people. And I guess my curiosity got the better of me. I started researching the story and it was after the ship that had sunk – I thought, if I ever want to make a new film I want to make one that will keep me going, even when I want to give up, as the interest will still be there, as there are so many days you want to run away. You ask yourself why did I do this to myself? I didn’t want to be in a room with 50 naked kids, that wasn’t my dream sequence. I am a hyper-aware person and when there are a lot of people and too many things to deal with and too much going on my brain gets overloaded and I am like, nightmare on earth! And yet the whole thing was interesting so I wanted to continue and tie up my trench coat and….
(Laughter) Yes I was wearing a trench coat and heels for that scene. One financier who came to the shoot that day was like “Wow, I never thought I would see the Mary Poppins of sex orgies” (laughter).
What I liked about the film is that it is explicit but that isn’t the point of it: it is not to shock you it is just, like the title says, a modern love story showing coming-of-age, being more free, falling in love and being frivolous with the consequences.
Yeah, and the funny part of it is, if you think about the 60s, [they were] very promiscuous. There are times throughout history where teenagers have been promiscuous, they do it very well. There are buttons that are in the right place for that to happen. So when everybody touches the buttons at the same time everyone goes crazy! And I just thought it was a very interesting thing to watch and observe and dive into and I was just very curious. I guess I had a couple of things to resolve about my own problems that I think I did in the writing process (laughter). I was just very intrigued but at the same time very aware that the idea of shocking people was just nonsense in contemporary filmmaking because, you know, been there and done that, shocked anyone (I am not going to do two girls one cup (laughter)). Shock value has shifted from cinema to the internet, there is no point trying to shock people as people will not go see your movie, whilst on the internet everyone will click on it. So I was like, lets just be very simple about this, it is a very extreme story that goes back to showing that if you really think about it everything boils down to basic feelings, falling in love: do I love you, do you love me? Like on set, after five days of everyone being naked no one wanted to do it again, which is funny as on the first day everyone was crazy happy because they were so free. The last day I had to plead and beg for people to get naked because no one wanted to do it. The last scene where he dives into the swimming pool, if you look closely they all have swimming costumes on – I hope people don’t notice!
And you’d think it would be the other way round?
Yes exactly, and that is one of the interesting things I wanted to explore in the film. It doesn’t matter, it isn’t about that – nakedness is nothing. Once you have transgressed that it goes back to human beings trying to be loved. Which always amazes me when you hear conservative people getting offended by things, getting stuck on the wrong thing, drama and controversy are really nothing. That is why I really have a hard time when I hear the movie is controversial, as I don’t see it. I hear it and I understand it is for some people but for me it is like looking at life through a very small hole, no pun intended.
Yes it is easy to label a film. I heard people run parallels between your film and Kids, probably because of the nudity, or a lot of attention has been drawn to you being a female director and it having female leads. But in all this, what shines through is the story. What do you think?
Kids has come up in every interview! But I realise a lot of people who compare to Kids probably haven’t watched it for 20 years. I have read a couple of very silly comments and I think it is showing ignorance as I am on the opposite spectrum of Kids. I love that movie but I paid a lot of attention to not go the same route. Kids is very frontal, it needs to shock as it made sense at that time, as it was talking to a generation who were obsessed with death and death was hovering over their heads as making love equalled potentially dying, which is a huge thing psychologically. I got really fascinated that today in teenagers it is not like that at all, it is more like the 80s where you could f**k around as much as you wanted as they had the pill and no STDs yet.
About the female perspective, the only thing I would add is that you are a female so some things are obvious for you in the film, but remember 95% of storytelling is done by the male gaze and a patriarchal point of view where the males always lead and the females do not explore their sexuality and are objects of desire. I love that with Laetitia in the film, who is playing on her first time, one of the things I was interested in is that there is a female perception of sexuality and love and it is not quite what the male gaze has done of it. It is my perspective. I am not talking about all females, but I am interested in that: showing one brick at a time how diverse it can be and how different and how complex. It is not just about girls who wait as they want to be good girls or girls who are sluts. It is so much more complex, girls who can talk about their hormones, you are a f*’*king volcano when you are a teenager! And how do you deal with that? It is funny all my female friends, when they were teenagers, were so free, it never occurred to me to think they were sluts it was just beautiful to see. I was very lucky I grew up in that background that allowed us to have a certain freedom of thinking. But that exists, and that needs representation and that is what I wanted to do.
At the very beginning when I started writing I didn’t want my first name to be on the script as I didn’t want people to react to it because I was a female director. But people still would say my name and I was like, this isn’t working! So I owned up to what was driving me crazy and thought I could bring awareness to it. At the beginning I was worried people would be like, it is a girls’ story, it is going to be boring, blah blah blah. I asked specifically not to have pink in the title as so many films that have female directors have pink in the title and it is wrong. So all these little things that came up made me think along the way of what it is to be a female telling that story and what is the male gaze and what is the representation in the world and how can I participate in telling that story.
Read our review of Bang Gang: A Modern Love Story here:
Watch the trailer for Bang Gang: A Modern Love Story here: