If you haven’t yet see the film “The Bunny Game“, your really missing out. While the film has been already banned in the UK, our viewing genre is quite conditioned to more edgy extreme labeled releases. In fact, in my own circle, I would call this a marketing advantage, prompting the casual viewing to take a bit more notice than the other 1000′s of films that released this year. When I caught “The Bunny Game”, I knew there was much more here than your usual click and shoot. “The Bunny Game” by all means is a work of art in itself that just so happens to also be quite disturbing. You can read our “The Bunny Game” review here for more information on the film. We are pleased to present this 2 part interview, the first being with the film’s writer, director, and editor Adam Rehmeier.
The film was noted as being “Banned in the UK”. What was the audiences first reaction and can you comment on how a film like this became “banned” with all the extreme content coming out these days?
I was actually shocked that the film was outright banned in the UK. I thought they might ask for a few cuts, primarily the opening scene, but I didn’t anticipate a full ban of the film. We had amazing distribution in the UK through Trinity, who also distributed Gaspar Noe’s ENTER THE VOID and Simon Rumley’s RED, WHITE & BLUE, so I thought we might not get the lashing we got from the BBFC. It wasn’t like we were trying to get the film approved for all ages. This is a film for adults, well within the bounds of a Certificate 18 in my opinion. I think it is quite hypocritical to place an outright ban on a film, especially when the market is so over saturated with violent films and extremely graphic video games.
Where do you draw the line? Now the BBFC is busy hosting screenings of THE BUNNY GAME and other extreme films for focus groups to try and justify their decisions. They are even offering psychological counseling for members of the focus groups that have a hard time coming down off the experience of the films. You can’t write sh*t this good! This is really happening! We’re bombarded with bullsh*t from corporate media on a daily basis and can literally watch snuff on prime time television under the guise of THE WORLD’S WACKIEST POLICE CHASES but the BBFC feels compelled to subject focus groups to films they would never watch in a million years and offer them psychological counseling afterwards???
How long did it take before “The Bunny Game” was shot from first conception? Can you comment on any hardships that prolonged the film from completion?
Rodleen and I first kicked some ideas around in 2006 which were the genesis of what would eventually become THE BUNNY GAME. She had a real-life abduction story that was fascinating to me, and I had been working with my friend Gregg Gilmore on several film ideas. I introduced Rodleen and Gregg and we loosely planned a hybrid project out of our collective concepts, but it backfired as we got close to the date of production. Gregg had some reservations about the dark terrain the project would cover so he backed out at the last minute, leaving us high and dry. Rodleen and I were devastated and the project went into limbo for almost two years. We kept busy shooting photos and recording music together: part therapy, part character development.
We were dead set on making a horror film together, we just needed the proper man to play opposite Rodleen. One day, in the middle of a photo shoot, Jeff Renfro popped into my head. He was a gnarly teamster I knew from a run-in I had with him back in 2002 on the set of the Polish Bros. film NORTHFORK. We had an altercation which lead to him nearly beating me on set. I decided to call him up and introduce him to Rodleen, see if there was any chemistry. We met with Jeff and within minutes we knew we had found the missing piece of the puzzle. It’s funny how a chance encounter and near ass whooping Â would one day lead to casting Jeff in a film, but he is such a larger than life character, I just couldn’t get him out of my head. He had some doubts about doing the film, mainly since he was a teamster and not a trained actor. I actually went to his house and shot a little in home demonstration for him so he could see himself from my POV. It worked! He thought it was pretty brilliant and agreed to do the film. In fact, there are a few flash frames from that demo that are actually in the final cut. Look for a few quick reflection shots of Jeff in the mirror. We began production around Halloween 2008.
Also can you comment on the editing process? How long did the film take in post production and was there any cuts that were “too” extreme to be included?
I isolated myself for over a year while cutting THE BUNNY GAME and scoring the soundtrack. I was living in a loft in the heart of downtown LA, ten stories above the alleyway where we are introduced to Bunny in the beginning only the film. The rhythms of downtown influenced the edit and soundtrack of the first third of the film. I would spend my downtime with a pot of coffee and a set of binoculars, spying on gutter punks that weren’t too far off from Bunny. Some of the more manic scenes in the film were more akin to stop motion animation than anything else. I was getting down to 2 frame cuts for a lot of those sequences. It was choppy, but matched the energy of what we shot. It allowed me to kaleidoscope some of the terror and jump around between past, present and future.
There wasn’t much in the way of extreme scenes that were cut from the film really. There was one scene with some intense knife play that was cut out of the film, but pretty much everything got used in one way or another due to my manic editing style of the film. I feel like I used every emotional scrap that our production provided. Whatever leftovers remained were the equivalent of a well-picked and sun-bleached carcass.
It appeared to me that your editing might be based on photographers as many of the shots were obviously scrutinized for composition. Any influences in that realm you want to mention?
The acquisition phase of the film was so different stylistically than the editorial period of the film. The production itself was only 13 days, and short days at that. Our energy was very concentrated it that period, we were very influenced by each other and feeding off the experience itself. For me, behind the camera, the execution of the entire film was captured in a series of single takes. We didn’t repeat action in THE BUNNY GAME, as the energy would never match the previous shot. I wanted to keep Jeff and Rodleen raw and in the moment. Traditional blocking was out of the question. I have an extensive background in documentary work, so I was able to be in the right place at the right time and get the shots I needed in realtime during the shoot. If I missed the moment, or the shot was soft, it ended up on the cutting room floor. The whole process was a intuitive process with very minimal planning. Parameters were mapped out, to an extent, but the actors were allowed to play.
The entire film was shot linearly for continuity reasons. Obviously when you are shaving heads and really branding actors, it’s impossible to jump around with the scenes. Also, shooting the film in order let the tension build in a natural way for Rodleen and Jeff. They were truly experiencing a journey as the film progressed. I think we spent a week in Agua Dulce for all of the truck interiors and exterior desert sequences. The shoot days were so minimal, truly five or six hours a day at best because the emotion was so concentrated. Since we only did one take of everything, we would do an entire scene in 20 minutes or so and then take a break, which would entail each of us having a little private time before we would regroup.
Who was the character of “Hog” based or inspired by?
HOG stems from the inscription on the side of Renfro’s ’85 Western Star Semi: HONOR ORDER GUTS. It was pretty synchronistic, as Rodleen and I had purchased a Hog mask for him at a fetish shop in LA as a prop. I had always called his character JR in my notes, short for Jeff Renfro, but since neither JR or Sylvia Gray’s [Rodleen's character] names are mentioned on camera in the film, I thought it would be a little confusing if they were credited as such. During the abduction scene, there are some out takes where they exchange names casually, but it wasn’t quite as creepy as what ended up in the film so that part was cut. I preferred stripping it down to Bunny and Hog for the credits, as the viewer at least has a reference point when it comes to their specific masks.
It was apparent to me after seeing “The Bunny Game” that your approach would make for a great flavor to apply to perhaps a character based horror film that appeals to the mainstream horror genre but is edited in “your style” for artistic presentation. What are your thoughts on doing something in that vein and your interests?
THE BUNNY GAME was a personal film, a collaboration with Rodleen, a meditation on what we find horrific. For me, it was also an example of what I could do with a bare minimum budget. Everything was stripped down to the basics: camera, mic, actors, idea. I will continue to work in the genre, as I am a huge fan of horror, but you can expect to see some quite different work from me in the future. Rest assured, my mainstream ideas are grounded in reality but will still pack a f*cking punch! I love films that get your heart pumping. I see so many filmmakers wasting big money on tepid horror films. I’d love to have a decent budget to work with on my next film!
Of course, many who see this will be wondering that common question as to “what’s next” in the pipeline for new film projects to take on. And do you plan on keeping within the realm of your current genre directions or perhaps something different?
I am busy outlining and writing now, but nothing even close to as experimental as THE BUNNY GAME. I have five or six films that would be amazing genre films, everything from mind-bending Sci-Fi to real horror. I am also finishing up work on my 2nd feature film JONAS, which is a squeaky clean departure from THE BUNNY GAME.
Great stuff!, HorrorNews.net wants to thank Adam Rehmeier for taking the time to give us more insight into his fantastic film. We’ll be looking for more!
Interview: Adam Rehmeier – Director (The Bunny Game)