Interview with Adam Rehmeier (The Bunny Game)

Mick: Adam, I start this off with a simple question: Why the hell did you do a film like THE BUNNY GAME?

Adam Rehmeier: With THE BUNNY GAME, I’m not sure I ever really had a choice. The film emerged organically, over the course of many years through photoshoots with Rodleen Getsic. The character and situation began to take form through our art projects and musical improvisations. The main focus was always to keep the film grounded in reality, to not take the easy way out, to not make ugly things look pretty. Stylizing the violence was not an option, it had to be harsh and disturbing in order to get under your skin. We all went into the film looking to have an experience, albeit a negative one. It was not pleasant for any of us, it was quite uncomfortable. We removed ourselves from the securities of a larger film, it was just me and the actors alone in the desert for much of the shoot. Out of that collective energy, THE BUNNY GAME emerged. It was more akin to creating a monster and then having the monster take control. At a certain point, we were just caretakers of the monster.

Mick: The movie has a simple story, but it also feels artistic. Is there something under the surface we should look out for?

Adam: THE BUNNY GAME is one of those films where multiple viewings tend to reveal more and more to the audience. I learn new things about the film all the time, and of course, I know it very intimately…frame by frame really. I think there is something under the surface of the film, but I’m not entirely sure it is something you can look for as much as it is something that you can feel. There is a negativity to the film that is undeniable, one that short circuits electrical equipment occasionally. The tapes the film was shot on have even have a strange feeling when you hold them in your hand. During post-production, several computer batteries exploded while I was editing the film. BUNNY GAME related material has crashed websites, destroyed DVD players and fried a TV.

Mick: The film has been banned in the UK and had trouble to find a dubbing studio in Germany. Did you expect to have such a hard time? Do you care?

Adam: THE BUNNY GAME is clearly not a film for all audiences. I’ve always said it is a film for true horror fans, the curious, and the strong of heart and mind. I have been responsible with the film as far as public screenings go as well, as I feel it should never play at an all ages screening. In fact, I pulled it from one festival because the programmer wouldn’t guarantee that the audience would be over 18 years of age. In the UK, we were trying to obtain an Certificate 18 which I felt was reasonable. Obviously, the BBFC didn’t feel the same way. They felt the film eroticizes violence, which I don’t agree with. I see the film as a modern cautionary tale, grounded in reality. Sure there is real sex and violence, but this is a film for mature adults, not children. I think it is much more damaging for society to have rubbish like Gary Marshall’s PRETTY WOMAN on the Family channel: a film where a prostitute ends up with the wealthy man of her dreams. The overwhelming social acceptance of parents to let their children watch a fairy-tale approach to prostitution is more disturbing to me.

I know that Illusions had a hard time finding a dubbing studio in Germany, which is par for the course with THE BUNNY GAME. It seems to divide audiences as well as professionals within the industry. It’s a drag that they had to go to such lengths to find a dubbing studio, but I am quite pleased they stuck it out and didn’t give up. It’s a testament to their support of the film and I love anyone who doesn’t quit or get discouraged in the face of censorship.

Mick: THE BUNNY GAME is your first (full) film as a director, and also the first film for the main-actors. Very often the lack of experience shows, but in this case not only the acting but the whole film is intense.
How did you meet the others ?

Adam: I met Rodleen a decade ago in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles. I used to catch some of her musical performances back then and was really blown away by her singing and bashing away on her guitar. She is an amazing musician. We had a mutual friend, so we would run into each other occasionally at parties and shows. At some point, we just started shooting photos together and recording music at my little house in the Hollywood Hills or up the coast where she lived in La Conchita.

Jeff Renfro and I met on the set of the Polish Brothers film NORTHFORK in 2002. We were filming in Montana, at the base of Glacier National Park. I was the 2nd Unit Director, Renfro was the honeywagon driver[the guy responsible for the mobile toilets]. It’s a strange story, but on the 6th day of production, Renfro and I got into a fight over some misunderstanding. It was real caveman shit. He thought I gave him a nasty look or something, so he came over and attacked me. I was just a kid, really. 25 years old. I was scared shitless when this teamster came over and started shaking the shit out of me! It was quite a scene. We were forced to shake hands and everything. He left a lasting impression on me. When I was casting the film 6 years later, I kept thinking about how he had shaken me up and decided to give him a call and see if he was interested in the role.

Mick: What  took you so long to make your first film?
What is/was your profession before?

Adam: I guess I’ve never really had any attachment to time, so making my first feature after working in the film industry for 13 years might seem like a long time, but I’ve been quite busy working as a director, 2nd unit director, documentarian, DP, and camera operator. I’ve worked on hundreds of projects, and for many years, I was very much into recording music at my house, sometimes in excess of 30 tracks a day. When I wasn’t working, I would literally just write stories, music or draw fucked up little pictures. THE BUNNY GAME is a personal project. For me, the film was all about what I could achieve completely solo, without a crew, without rules. I’ve worked on so many features where there is absolutely no life in the creation part of the film: everything is overplaned, the crew is on autopilot. THE BUNNY GAME was about removing those elements from the equation and being solely responsible of every aspect of the process. It has been a wonderful learning experience, especially after post-production ended and the film entered into the distribution phase. The fantastic distribution we have through so far is exctiting!

Mick: Your next movie is called JONAS, just like one of the characters in THE BUNNY GAME. Can you tell us more about it?

Adam: JONAS is a character study of a man at a crossroads in his life. After mysteriously washing up on a desolate stretch of coastline, Jonas sheds his sinful past and is guided to the City of Angels. Intuitively, he knocks on the doors of those in need of a powerful message.

I made the film with my friend Gregg Gilmore, whom I have known since casting him over a decade ago in a short film called HENRY & MARVIN. Fans of THE BUNNY GAME, that are expecting something really horrific in JONAS might be a little surprised, as it is almost at the opposite end of the spectrum from the manic and negative energy of THE BUNNY GAME. It is important for me to point out that the film was a much needed counter-balance to what I had just accomplished with THE BUNNY GAME, a true opposite experience. I think it is a unique companion piece to THE BUNNY GAME.

Mick: When we first meet, you mentioned, that you lived in Germany for a while. Tell us about it!

Adam: I was 18 years old when I lived in Germany. It’s all a blur now! Let me tell you, there was plenty of beer and wine and flammkuchen and cigarettes and beer and Honig Liquor and Döner kebabs and beer and Offenburg and trains and beer and Reeperbahn and beer and Sylt and shrimp and beer!

Mick: Any german horror movies, that you like or that even influenced your work?

Adam: Murnau’s NOSFERATU is fantastic, but I wouldn’t say that it was very influential to my work. I’m a huge fan of Werner Herzog, especially EVEN DWARVES STARTED SMALL. He consistently cranks out amazing films. I am in awe of his body of work. I’d love to get a chance to collaborate with him on a project! When it comes to horror films, I am a much bigger fan of Italian and American horror, especially from the mid-70s to mid-80s. Some of my favorites are: CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET, HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK, PIECES, TOURIST TRAP, CHOPPING MALL, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, ERASARHEAD.

Mick: Thank you for the interview!

 

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