Thursday, January 8, 2009
Alex Cox on "Repo Man"
What point were you at in your career before this project?
ALEX COX: I had written two scripts for money, one for United Artists and one for the director Adrian Lyne, and made a short film (40 minutes) at UCLA.
Where did the idea for the story come from?
ALEX COX: Various sources. People I'd met in LA, a repo man with whom I rode around, punks from that scene.
Do you begin with story, character or theme?
ALEX COX: Urr... it depends on the project. If it's a bio-pic it's the character. In the case of Repo Man, probably theme - the imminence of nuclear war, the superficiality and stupidity of almost everything else.
How much research did you do and how did that help you write the script?
ALEX COX: Just riding around with a repo man, going to punk gigs, and a monthly subscription to The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
The theme for the film seems to hinge around "the lattice of coincidence." How important is having a theme before you start to write?
ALEX COX: It depends on the project. Repo Man's theme probably changed when the ending was re-written near the end of the shoot, and the destruction of LA replaced with the transcendental flying car.
Did you outline the whole story before you started writing the script?
ALEX COX: No, I just started writing scenes and dialogue.
What's your writing process?
ALEX COX: Write until it's finished. Then re-write it. There were 14 drafts of Repo Man. The first one probably took a month or so. Some later ones just a few days.
Was it always planned to be a low-budget film?
ALEX COX: Yes, and much lower budget. Around $120K at one stage, of which $50K -- our salaries -- would have been deferred.
How did you come up with the idea to use all "generic" food?
ALEX COX: We couldn't get any product placement! Apart from Ralph's Supermarket, who gave us the generic stuff, and the Car Freshener Co.
How do you know when the script is done?
ALEX COX: When they give you the money to shoot it.