Tom Joad here… Film festivals definitely take their toll on you. Movies, panels & functions from 8:00am to 2:00am, grab a quick four hours of sleep (five if you're lucky), get up and do it again... and again… and again. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing I'd rather spend my day doing - but by the fourth or fifth day, it is pretty tough to stay focused, to keep conscious and to remain enthusiastic. I consider myself lucky, as if being able to attend the entire film festival wasn't enough of a blessing, tonight was one of those nights that makes it all worthwhile.
That was my introduction written during SXSW… too much to do… too little time… So here we are, a few weeks later, with more coverage of one of the best and easily the funniest films at SXSW this year: THE INDEPENDENT.
Stephen Kessler's second feature film, THE INDEPENDENT, was screening at the Paramount. The stars in attendance were Janeane Garofalo, Jerry Stiller, Max Perlich & Ginger Lynn Allen. Not only was the movie hilarious far beyond my expectations (my review will be up tomorrow), but I was given the opportunity to interview Ginger Lynn Allen afterward.
Earlier in the day I spoke with the incredibly cool and accommodating Kessler, who agreed to arrange an interview with Ginger. I sat down and came up with some of the questions I've always wanted to ask her.
After the film, Ginger and I were able to find a spot in the Paramount that we could talk without being surrounded by people. Discovering a great location in the back of the theatre, we sat down and began.
JOAD:What's your favorite movie?
GINGER:To Kill A Mockingbird… or Rebecca, it's right up there.
JOAD:You like the classics?
GINGER:Yes. I really do. If I had to pick something newer I would say "The Princess Bride" I just love that movie!
JOAD:What is the last movie you saw in the theatre?
GINGER:Oh! The Wonder Boys - it was fabulous, great - I loved it.
JOAD:Who are some of your favorite actresses?
GINGER:Either Jessica Lange or Jessica Tandy - they're both fantastic.
JOAD:What about music? Who do you listen to?
GINGER:I listen to a lot of alternative music, I went shopping yesterday and I bought Lit. Don't laugh - I bought the new Oasis, everybody makes fun of them, but I just love them. The Goo Goo Dolls, Foo Fighters, I always bring along Sheryl Crow, I love Bonnie Raitt - and Elton John… I was in a James Taylor kind of a mood yesterday.
JOAD:Do you ever find time to read?
GINGER:Patricia Cornwell is one of my favorite authors, I read a lot of her stuff. I just read Jonathan Kellerman's Monster, he also wrote Billy Straight. I read a lot - I like mysteries… I travel a lot so I have plenty of plane time.
JOAD:Do you find it tough to get roles?
GINGER:I'm pretty fortunate compared to a lot of my friends that I studied acting with. I work much more consistently, I do three to four projects a year. I'm not getting the huge roles I would like to get yet, but you know, I started in X-rated movies. Very few actors have crossed over. I went from adult films to small roles in B-films, to leads in B-films, to small roles in A-films. I'm still doing smaller roles, but the films I'm doing them in are getting bigger and better. Because of the Metallica video, of all things [Bob Seger's cover of "Turn the Page"] a producer I worked with from the film "Bound and Gagged" is putting up ten million for a movie for me which is something I've waited for for a long time. It's kind of a Rebecca/Jagged Edge mix, definitely a thriller.
JOAD:Will you have a hand in the screenwriting aspect of it or will you just be wearing the one hat on this production?
GINGER:I don't think so, I think wearing one hat is a better way for me to go at this point. It's such a wonderful opportunity to have someone believe in you enough and not be worried about your background to give you something like this. I don't want to blow it. I really want to give it everything I have. So if I'm doing more than one thing, it might fuck it up! Actually the man who wrote the script is in another film I have coming out in the future called "The Last Late Night," he's a soap opera actor by the name of Bill Timony. I've been spreading the word for the last six months or so that I was looking for a good script. For the most part people sent me the 'take off your clothes' or 'the victim' - you know, the same roles I've been offered: you can play the hooker… you can be the stripper... Not that there's anything wrong with those roles but I'd really like to go on to bigger and better things. I told Bill I was looking for something and he approached me with his script and I fell in love with it.
JOAD:How did you land the INDEPENDENT? Did you meet with the director beforehand?
GINGER:Nicole and Joy, the casting directors who brought me in for this also brought me in for 'Wing Commander' both for 'Prophecy' and 'Heart of the Tiger'. They also brought me in for "Casino". I had three call-backs and a screen test, I was up for the Sharon Stone part. But the name of the character when I read for the part was not originally Ginger, as it was in the film. For a month my parents were sending me the little cards with the cat, you know, hanging there - because it was down to one other person, and me but they wouldn't tell me who it was. Sharon Stone obviously did the role… so Nicole and Joy brought me in for "The Independent" and Steve auditioned me for one of the… do you remember the two girls with the great big breasts that do the same movie over and over and over again? He brought me in to audition for one of those roles and said, 'Oh you're wonderful, you're hired and I'll call you.' And like a year went by and he never did and I thought like, 'Thanks, nice to meet you…' and he called back and said we want you to play the role of the mayor. Nice little role.
JOAD:What was the set like? Light hearted? Crunch-time?
GINGER:It wasn't hectic, there wasn't a lot of downtime, or playtime - a lot of movies I've worked on, for ten hours you sit in the trailer and do nothing. This was very organized. Janeane and Jerry initially intimidated me, but they were just wonderful. They were sweet, they were very accepting and there were no judgments passed. A very nice environment to work in.
JOAD:How long was the shoot?
GINGER:The initial filming was 35 days and then I was Ohio, working on another job and they called from northern California up in Colfax - someplace in northern California… and I did something that I've never done before: I told them that I had a traffic ticket and I couldn't get out of court and if I didn't go back, there would be a warrant out for my arrest! So I could fly back to work on this film again because it was such a joy to work on. I did a three day run where I did not sleep. I left Ohio, flew to the set, filmed all day, took the red eye out and I was literally up three days to come back and film this scene. It was for the final scene, where they show, "The Simplex Complex."
JOAD:Has THE INDEPENDENT found a distributor yet?
GINGER:We showed for the first time in Aspen last month at the Comedy Festival, so we had a built-in audience. But it also worked against us in a certain way: people expected it to be so funny, and it was… but people had been watching comedy for five days, yet it was well received. I enjoyed seeing it with this audience much more, I think that Austin has a nice group of people living here. Very responsive.
JOAD:With all of the hats that you wear, producer, writer, actress, mother. Would you walk me through a typical day in the life of Ginger Lynn Allen?
GINGER:I'm usually up at five or six to get on my computer. I have my own website which I design it myself and I do all of those wonderful things on my own. I do that until about seven and then my son wakes me up. We do the breakfast thing, I take my son to school, and four days a week I study martial arts - so I go from school to my tai-kwon-do class. Then I have a lot of meetings after class until about one. I try to write from one to three, pick up my son from school, bring him home, fix dinner, try and spend some time with my boyfriend when possible and from eleven or twelve until about one or two I try to write again. That's just when I'm at home.
JOAD:I can't imagine your schedule on the road…
GINGER:Tomorrow I fly at 6:00am to San Francisco. I'm onstage at one in the afternoon, I have another show at six and another show at eleven. I have eighteen shows in six days. I fly from there to Orlando where I have twelve shows in four days, from Orlando to Cleveland where I do a distributor convention. I'll sign autographs from there I go to Akron where I do the Fright Vision Show. I'm not even sure what it is! I've got a lot of silly things going on right now. They're making a resin mold of me. They came in and brought in this big van. You sit in the middle and are scanned by a circular camera so they get a three dimensional image. So they are actually making an anatomically correct Ginger resin doll. They came over with it the other day and I said, "You know what? My breasts are not that big, and my butt is a lot bigger. So you need to switch things around…" I'm a busy girl.
JOAD:How has motherhood changed you?
GINGER:I'm a lot less selfish. I'm a lot happier. I spend a lot more time thinking of someone other than myself - which goes back to the selfish thing. It's made me more focused in everything that I do. You can't be a mother and not be organized…
[The telephone call was from the director, Stephen Kessler. They were closing the Paramount theatre for the night so it was decided that we would continue the interview over at the Four Seasons.]