Allison Anders on the making of her new film ‘Strutter’

“I’ve really had the career I wanted initially, you know. I wanted to be part of a film movement – I didn’t know how we were going to have it, but in film school I’d read about the French New Wave, the New German cinema, and I was like, well I want to be part of a film movement! And so, incredibly, I ended up being part of one…” So says independent filmmaker Allison Anders, who was part of the vanguard of the American indie film movement – for whom Sundance was the early 90s stomping ground.

“…and I wanted a career like Wim Wenders and I ended up having that, so everything else has just really been gravy. I’d love to have a house that I own and to be able to take care of everyone in my family, but pretty much I’ve done what I want to do and I have access to do more of the things that I want to do as well, which has been tremendous.”

Growing up in rural Kentucky, Allison Anders survived a brutal gang rape age 12; three years later she fled to LA with her mother and sister after her stepfather threatened her with a gun. When she enrolled at UCLA film school a few years later, she was a single mother getting by on waitressing and welfare. She worked as production assistant on Wenders’ 1984 film, Paris, Texas, after inundating the director with letters, and went on to co-direct her first feature in 1987 with Kurt Voss, a punk road movie called Border Radio which was nominated for Best First Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards.

Her filmography also includes Gas Food Lodging (1992), Mi Vida Loca (1993), a segment in the anthology film Four Rooms (1995, along with Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Alexandre Rockwell), Grace Of My Heart (1996) and Things Behind The Sun (2005).

In 1999, she re-teamed with Voss to make Sugar Town:

“Sugar Town was directly inspired by seeing Border Radio again… we were like, we just made that movie, we didn’t wait for anyone’s permission, we just did it. So, we did Sugar Town. We wrote the script in a week, cast it and did all the preproduction in two weeks and three weeks later we were shooting, it was amazing. We had $400,000 to make that movie… but we could not go over one thing… we didn’t have a bond for it: if anything fell through we were going to be accountable for that money but we did it, we pulled it off and we made that film…”

Though originally not planned as a trilogy, after making Sugar Town (which stars, among others, John Taylor of Duran Duran and Martin Kemp)as a counterpart to Border Radio, Anders and Voss realized there would be a third part too, they just didn’t know yet what it would be – until Strutter.

“Strutter was very much inspired by the Britpop romance [Damon Albarn/Justine Frischmann/Brett Anderson]… we were intrigued by that story, so we used that as a jumping off point for a romance among some young musicians in Los Angeles present day… [then] it was a matter of putting together people and locations and then putting together the money, which we decided to raise on Kickstarter.”

Kickstarter is one of the primary crowd-funding websites, gathering pledges from the general public to finance creative projects. The fundraising drive for Strutter offered gifts in return for pledges, obtained through sponsors and friends – from swag bags from Amoeba Records to handpicked and autographed gift bags from the likes of Edgar Wright, Ethan Coen and Quentin Tarantino.

“I’ve noticed that filmmakers, musicians, artists, are really bad at raising money for the most part; it’s not really their thing to tell somebody this is why you should value my product, it’s always the part you hate the most. Then people with money are going to get involved and yeah, you want their money, but can’t they just give it to you and then go away?! … [So] I just think Kickstarter is the greatest thing ever. I actually think it’s greater and more freeing than anything for any artist, even more than the digital world has been.”

They successfully reached their target of $17,500, and filming on Allison Anders’ Strutter commenced mid-February 2011.

allison anders interview by Hannah Duncan

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