The Austin Chronicle

The Slacker 2011 Interviews: Spencer Parsons

By Marc Savlov, August 25, 2011, 9:48am, Picture in Picture

With the world premiere of Slacker 2011 just a few days away, we thought it would be cool follow up our cover story with a few one-on-one interviews with some of the directors and actors involved in this uniquely complex production. First up, longtime Austin filmmaker and sometime Austin Chronicle contributor, Spencer Parsons.

Austin Chronicle: Can you recall the first time you saw Slacker and what your initial reaction was?

Spencer Parsons: There's a part of me that doesn't want to be one of those guys, but it happened to hit me at just the right age and turned into a much bigger deal than it would have been just a few years earlier or a few years later.

I remember I saw a trailer for it at this great art theater in Columbus, Ohio that's now unfortunately turned into a Rite-Aid. I was running the college film society at the time and I looked into how to get my hands on it and put it on the schedule. Actually, for the kind of oddball movie that it was, it brought in a big, sell-out crowd, because I had got that same trailer that I had seen and shown it before Wayne's World. I got everybody to show up on the basis of the Madonna pap smear. I hadn't seen it yet myself but I was so jazzed by that trailer that I arranged to get it and show it on 16 millimeter, old-style college film society setting.

AC: So when you finally saw it, what did you think?

SP: I enjoyed the hell out of it. I think I had the overeducated white guy equivalent of what I think a lot of African Americans must have had with a movie like She's Gotta Have It.

AC: What was it specifically that affected you that way?

SP: I think it was seeing some aspect of the life that I was living and that a lot of my friends were living represented on screen in a way that Hollywood wasn't remotely delivering at all at that time. It was almost this big identity moment for me.

AC: Let's talk about Slacker 2011. What was your initial response to the idea of "remaking" Slacker?

SP: Yeah, I don't know how candid people are being but I'm going to go ahead because I think I've already made a reputation for myself as a real cranky guy. I thought it was a terrible idea. And to be honest, I kind of still wonder if it is. But it's the kind of weird, terrible idea that seems like it could be some fun at the very least.

Slacker is such a personal, site-specific kind of movie that was made in a certain place at a certain time and a remake is usually something that has a story and goes outside of that place and time. This is like trying to recreate snapshots or something. This is such a wrong-headed idea that it kind of comes back around to being an interesting challenge to me, which is part of why I said yes.

But it's such a ridiculous, goofball thing. It's not like you're doing Hamlet again, you know? It's not like remaking a Jim Thompson novel or remaking The Fly, where you've got this nut of a good story that you can then turn in different directions. What made Slacker special and what makes it a great movie is precisely the stuff that makes it not really an interesting remake possibility.

AC: So what swayed you? Obviously, you directed a terrific sequence and, since we've already seen Slacker 2011, we can say wholeheartedly that the entire project has turned out be equally excellent.

SP: The whole thing that it was a benefit for the Texas Filmmakers Production Fund, which is something from which I've personally benefitted greatly. And even from my cranky perspective it seemed really churlish to say no. Also, among the scenes that were available when I looked at the list was pretty much the only one that I was interested in doing, which is the one I ended up doing.

Check back tomorrow for part 2 of our chat with Spencer Parsons.

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