Drugs

Director Danny Perez on Fever-Dream Feature Film 'Antibirth' [Interview]

Starring Natasha Lyonne and Chloë Sevigny, ‘Antibirth’ clashes drug, art, and horror culture.
March 21, 2016, 2:15pm
Natasha Lyonne in a scene from Antibirth. Photograph by Marni Grossman. Photo courtesy of Traverse Media

The television hums with static as a very pregnant stoner rips bong hits and has bizarre visions of dancing furry creatures, strange doctors, and thumping music she can’t quite place. This is the chaotic, colorful world of director Danny Perez’s new feature film, Antibirth, which just premiered at Sundance. Starring Natasha Lyonne (Orange is the New Black) and Chloë Sevigny (Big Love, Kids), Antibirth follows a woman on the outskirts of society as she tries to figure out what’s happening to her body and remember how she got pregnant. To gain a better perspective into the frenetic world of the movie, The Creators Project spoke to director Danny Perez (previously profiled here) about conspiracy theories, crappy television, and transitioning from the music and art video world into his first feature.

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Director Danny Perez and Natasha Lyonne behind the scenes on Antibirth. Photograph by Marni Grossman. Photo courtesy of Traverse Media

The Creators Project: How would you characterize this movie? What genre would you call it?

Danny Perez: I think it definitely has elements of horror, it definitely has ominous sinister tones. But I think there’s also other genres in it, and it’s kind of like that juxtaposition that I like, making it something new and modern in the sense that it’s kind of like a remix. There’s an element of slacker comedy, of art film, of body horror, of indie American cinema. And that all just comes from being a movie lover myself.

How did this project come about?

I wanted to do something more narrative. I was friends with Natasha [Lyonne] and I knew I wanted to write something for her, something with a strong female lead, combined with my love of conspiracy theory and weird UFO YouTube videos. I pulled a lot of the language out of that world.

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Natasha Lyonne and Chloë Sevigny in a still from Antibirth. Photograph by Marni Grossman. Photo courtesy of Traverse Media

In the past you primarily worked with musicians. Was it a very different experience working with professional actors?

Yeah, it was pretty bonkers. As someone who watches movies, we all know what bad acting is, or what overacting is, so I just trusted myself. Also I was working with an amazing cast, both Natasha and Chloë were very efficient and really great at giving me so much to work with across the different takes.

A recurring visual theme in this movie is the TV. What importance did television have on the film?

Most movies have two characters watching TV and you would open up on an insert of the program and the rest of the scene is those two people talking. We keep going back to the TV like it’s another person. That’s inspired by being on tour and the best part of the night being four in the morning in the hotel room watching shitty TV and seeing totally obscene and weird things.

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Meg Tilly in Antibirth. Photograph by Marni Grossman. Photo courtesy of Traverse Media

Given your background, how important was music to your creative process with the film?

I tend to hang out more with musicians and artists than I do with film people, so a lot of those songs were written into the script, and we shot with them playing on set. Music definitely is another character, another layer to a movie. And I want the idea of this being like the Dazed and Confused soundtrack of weirdo, outsider American rock.

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Director Danny Perez and Meg Tilly on the set of Antibirth. Photograph by Marni Grossman. Photo courtesy of Traverse Media

Antibirth premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival. The next screening is on March 26, 2016, as part of the Boston Underground Film Festival (#BUFF16). Click here for more information.

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