Paul Schrader talks celebrity, post-theatrical cinema, and 'The Canyons'
So they funded it themselves (with Kickstarter donors). Originally contacted to make a cameo appearance, Lohan wanted in as both lead and co-producer once she'd read the script. Deen was Ellis' idea, prevailing despite Schrader's initial skepticism. "These two boldfaced names from porn and celebrity culture — it just became irresistible. You've got to find a way to make some noise on a microbudget film like this," he says, and that casting turned out to be a publicity godsend.
Asked if it was a difficult shoot, he says, "Every shoot is difficult. Sometimes you run out of money, sometimes the weather turns against you. And sometimes you have high-strung performers. Lindsay needs to live in a world of crisis. It's unnecessary — but that's what she needs."
When it's suggested that The Canyons is like American Gigolo with women now the primary sexual commercial properties, Schrader corrects: "It's with smart phones as the primary sexual commercial property." The characters' obsessive use of social media — they spend dinners barely maintaining conversation as they stare at their phones, and use Grindr-like apps for casual hookups — is one aspect of their alienated state.
Another is that they work in a film business when "the whole notion of theatrical cinema is changing. That was the concept from the beginning: making cinema for the post-theatrical era." (The Canyons, already available in streaming formats, opens with a montage of shuttered Los Angeles movie houses.) "This was designed to be distributed through the Internet and cable. I saw these kids as not really caring about movies. I told the cast this was about some twentysomething Angelenos who went to see a movie, but the theater closed. And they stayed in line because they had nowhere else to go."
THE CANYONS opens Fri/9 at the Roxie.