Michael Davis and 100 Girls

On this evening, as the drugs begin to take hold, I ponder to myself exactly why I feel this strange burning sensation near my anus.

Five Nair – free minutes later, I gingerly sit down to compile our next interview, the thing that you shall be compelled to read down below. Naked I am, letting my freedom hang by my knee and sway in the California heat, propelled by the occasional thought of anime elves and gusts of wind from my trippy ceiling fan. Drunk on alcohol and ether, I prepare to mentally beam my next interview onto the page.

I open up my Zippo and prepare to set fire to a bloody fag, a necessity after my delicious supper of bubble and squeak. Tonight’s interview is with Michael Davis, a filmmaker who is a walking advertisement for Viagra. Parental discretion is not only advised, but we advise you to use discretion and stay the fuck out of my freedom of speech. Read on.

[DS’ NOTE: Portions of this interview not affecting the outcome have been heavily edited in an attempt to prevent harm to animals and small children. Additionally, severe spelling, grammar, and identity errors are not the fault of this writer or magazine, and indeed, you will find some shit below that?s completely confusing. Blame Canada.]

DS: Of course, I must begin by demanding that you tell me your life’s history. Who are you and where did you spawn from?

MD: I’m originally from Rockville, Maryland… when I was a kid I made animated cartoons and when I was in junior high I wrote three James Bond novels. It wasn’t until halfway through art school that I realized (stupidly and late) that I was more interested in the storytelling aspects of picture making so I decided to go to film school. Since I’m a good illustrator, I kind of feel that being an artist is something that can’t be faked. You either can draw or not; you either have talent or not. I think in the film business… it’s easy to fake your way through it. If you have a great script a bad director can make a good movie… I feel if I write and direct there is no way to hide from a film being either good or bad…it’s the only way to prove if you’re really a good filmmaker. That’s also why I have enjoyed making these [indie] films. You have to be more inventive with a lower budget. Anybody can make anything look good if you throw enough money at it — the real challenge is to make something good with very little. I also chose to be a writer/director because I don’t think I could just do one or the other. I like the cerebral, introspective side of writing, that’s where the real creation is… writing, creating something out of nothing… writing is the key to storytelling. I have to be a storyteller first and foremost. With my visual and drawing skills, I think it would be a waste to write a good story and [have it] realized poorly by someone else. Since [I?ve] drawn all my life… worked as an animator… directing is like drawing on film for me. Since when I write, I see everything so clearly in my head, I just have to direct it. I love creating stuff.

DS: Your bio says you tried to make it with a grapefruit when you were a teenager. (Who hasn’t?) What was going on in your head leading up to the grapefruit seduction, were you on any kind of neat drugs at the time, and who did you fantasize about in place of the grapefruit?

MD: You’re not thinking [too] clearly when you’re horny. I guess my thought was that if someone else got off on a piece of fruit, maybe it will work for me. Besides, it was going to be years before I would get laid… I read about the practice in a Penthouse [magazine], so I must have had the Penthouse around for some visual stimulation as I experimented. I can tell you how I felt afterwards, I felt like a serial killer. I didn’t want anyone to see the grapefruit with a big (I flatter myself) hole in it, so I cut it up into a dozen pieces before burying it at the bottom of the trash. Anyway, to relate this to [Davis’ directorial debut] “8 Days A Week”… my watermelon gag came well before “American Pie”… the thieves… but the reason the buddy with the watermelon delights me so much in my film is because it is semi autobiographical… but whereas “American Pie” uses autoerotic stuff as just jokes, my self gratifier is part of the theme of the movie. The buddy keeps telling our hero to be “self reliant” but all of the self gratifying buddy’s exploits fail and sometime hurt him… which supports the theme that doing something alone, anything alone, is not healthy. The buddy character eventually realizes that doing stuff alone, especially sex, is lonely. He ultimately chooses not to be alone. You get the idea.

DS: Your films seem to deal with love, comedy, and the eternal quest for poontang. Are you just a hopeless romantic, or are these movies an excuse to film a rabid young male chasing hot bitches around?

MD: I guess I’m making up for my miserable teenage years. I never got the girl. I felt I was a loser because I never had girlfriend. I gravitate towards these stories for several reasons. Look at the classic goals characters can have in narrative. Most of these goals I hate “I want to get rich” lame. The defeat of evil lousy, sometimes works in cop stories, etc. I like the search for [true goals] because it seems more noble… usually, the hero not only betters himself but also [the] lover as well so it seems more altruistic. Also, everyone can identify with this goal… it is something we all struggle with… and since it is something everyone can identify with, it allows we to have a voice, express opinions that might actually have a chance to touch someone… believe it or not… I just got an e-mail from a kid, a self proclaimed loser who saw eight days a week and the film inspired him to get a date for the prom. He ended up with the captain of the cheerleaders. On the other side… sex is funny… so by doing these kinds of stories, it is also easy to come up with amusing ideas. I also like my heroes to be underdogs… the guy without a girl is the archetypal underdog for me. Finally, the film business is brutal… it’s hard to get any kind of film made. Once you have a specialty, it gets a little easier to get films off the ground because people can trust you a little bit more in that genre… they say, “he made a good youth comedy before… he can probably make another…” So, after years of beating my head against the wall, I just go with the flow. Finally, my follow up to “Eight Days a Week” is a film called “100 Girls”…it’s about a guy who is surrounded by 100 girls… what director/writer wouldn’t think that’s funny? When they asked me to do a follow up, I said “oh yeah.” I love women…so doing these films is homage to them and an indulgence for me.

DS: There’s a darker flipside to that train-of-thought, though. Let’s say you inspire some other kid to ask out a girl he honestly has no shot at… and he gets rejected in a bone-crushing manner. What if he commits suicide or shoots up a high school? Let’s be realistic about this, most guys *don’t* get the girl. Do you ever stop and think, ‘What if I’m totally wrong, what if this is actually going to do some damage?’ That is, of course, the risk that storytellers in such a broad medium take, but still… isn’t it just slightly possible that your worldview could fuck up the youth of America?

MD: [frothing at the mouth] Hey, I was just telling you an anecdote! There were a lot of other factors pushing this kid… he had already invested six months helping this girl do her bio homework. The character in [8 Days] only performs positive acts… and is a positive role model… if a viewer of my film gets rejected by a girl and goes berserk, that person had a lot more screws loose than my film unloosened. [Your statement] doesn’t really take into account that every viewer has spent their whole life sorting through input, information and have come up with their own world view a billion times prior to seeing my film. Your statement doesn’t really give credit to the viewer to edit and interpret stuff that they see… your statement really is so broad… if you took it literally, you could say… what if someone saw the US Hockey team beat the USSR and it inspired some kid to think he can overcome any odds too… and then when this kid fails to triumph like Team USA and blows his brains out, you could say… ?He shouldn’t have been inspired by this Olympic feat.? Your statement if taken literally would imply that every novel, every news story, every television show, could cause someone to do something terrible. It would imply that someone should live in a vacuum. I don’t really think cinema really has the power to make someone do anything negative… I don’t really believe negative imagery really makes people go off the deep end and I MOST CERTAINLY DON’T THINK POSITIVE ROLE MODELS LEAD VIEWERS TO PERFORM NEGATIVE ACTS. Also, your [statement that] “most guys *don’t* get the girl” is not true. Maybe not in high school, or maybe not in college… but you know what, most guys end up with the girl sometime in their lives. Most guys that were losers in high school end up someday really falling in love, getting laid, and getting married. They just have to wait longer and work harder. Whoa! Did [I] press a button or something?? This guy wrote me out of the blue and told me how he’d seen [8 Days A Week] ten times and his parents were pressuring him to get a date for the prom and he decided “ah what the heck,” maybe I can get lucky like that kid in the movie. That’s all it was…I’m not saying my film is hugely influential or anything…I was just relating a true life story that made me feel good about this fun, funny movie I made. Your question makes it seem like “Sixteen Candles,” “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “American Pie,” and “Eight Days A Week” are dangerous. I could understand the question if I had made “The Basketball Diaries” with scenes of high schoolers fantasizing about shooting up their classmates… or even “Heathers”… but come on… my little film can’t fuck up [shit]. The youth of America are far too smart, far too cynical, far too sarcastic… to have a lightweight film like my film make them do anything. The youth of America are strong willed. They make their own decisions. Seriously… what button did I press with this little anecdote I wrote? Ask me that question again when I make something like “Natural Born Killers.”

DS: [rolling with laughter] I was just playing devil’s advocate. With the way the press has been screaming about shit post-Columbine, I was curious if you felt you burdened with any responsibility for the actions of your audience, much like MTV’s ‘Jackass’. And allow me to correct a previous statement, most guys do get *a* girl, but usually settling for something much less than what they were hoping for. (I’ll let the U.S. divorce rate back me up on that one.) And yeah, your films could f*ck someone up — remember those four teenage girls who raped that small boy with a beer bottle after a viewing of “Born Free?” Let me approach your opinions on this subject from a different angle: what do YOU think is wrong with America’s youth? How do we prevent high-school shootouts? Do kids these days need to get laid more? Embrace homosexuality? Do more acid?

MD: The only things wrong with America’s Youth are America’s parents. How messed up can the kids be if the parents vote for George W. Bush? Actually, youth crime has gone down the past ten years. High school shootouts? I wish someone would go into the NRA and blow them away. I’m not in touch with America’s youth to even give you a half way educated answer. I just write stories that springboard from my own feelings about my youth and I hope they strike a universal cord.

DS: Switching gears for a moment. From your films and your previous answers, it’s clear that you really love telling stories involving girls and/or women — almost to the point where they could be considered a Holy Grail (or MacGuffin) for men. Would you, in a roundabout way, consider yourself a feminist filmmaker, and are you into lesbians at all?

MD: The answer to this question is actually delivered by the hero Matt in “100 Girls.” Here’s the excerpt: “MATTHEW: There are too many ‘ists’ in the world. Feminists. Chauvinists. Communists. Capitalists. Racists. Sexists. These are all groups that fight one another instead of trying to understand one another. The only ‘ists’ there should be are a humanists.” I try to be a humanists. I also try to write what I know. I know the [heterosexual] male sex and romance drive pretty well, but I don’t know anything about the lesbian psyche… so I write what I know. I think what makes people connect with films are when they notice “little truths” in a story that they can identify with. I can only discover write these little truths about something I know, not what I don’t.

DS: Well, shit man, gimme a minute to shower and rinse the PC off me. While your answer has merit, I’m not asking if you ever intend to make a documentary about the Man-Hating-Dyke-Militia… I’m curious if your red-blooded maleness extends to being aroused by the sight of two women getting naughty. Lipstick lesbians, all sex, no politics, and plenty o’ muff. You say that you know nothing of the lesbian psyche… well, no offense, but what guy (including yourself) really understands women in general anyway? Answer this conundrum not as a filmmaker, but as that inner teenager with the consistent boner: Are you hot for lesbian sluts or not?

MD: Lesbians don’t do it for me… It’s distracting to look at more than one girl at a time. I have tunnel vision. I like to focus at one thing at a time.

DS: Wow, yet, there are a hundred girls in your film, and two sets of hooters on each and every one of them except Nancy Reagan. (Sorry, that was low.) Let me ask you about your casting process… I mean, 100 (different) girls! That’s a casting wet dream! Can you take us through your casting process… step-by-step? How/where does the ad/call go out, how auditions are held, when you ask them to take off their clothes to make sure they really do have two tits and no package…

MD: We hired a casting agent to help us. The tough thing was that there were main girls who the hero really interacts with a lot and then about ten secondary girls… each one of them has to be a potential romantic suspect. The hero doesn’t know which girl is the mystery girl. In any romantic comedy, it’s hard enough to get a chemistry between your male lead and female lead… well, I wanted the audience to think any one of the girls, especially the five main girls, could be the mystery girl. This meant that I need to have five girls who had chemistry with the male lead. All the girls I cast were cast because of two things? first are the good actresses… second, did I have a crush on them? I saw a lot of beautiful girls but there’s a difference between beauty and girls who have magic on screen… so I just went by my gut, [and] if I got a crush on them, they were a contender.

DS: If you had to give up either sex or masturbation forever, which one would you sacrifice, and why?

MD: I think I’d give up beating off… it’s a lonely occupation. It’s more fun to reach out and touch someone.

DS: Speaking of reaching out and touching someone, I’ve always wondered how movie love scenes are filmed. I mean, how on earth do you tell your lead actress that her motivation is to shake her ass in the air so her ‘man’ can penetrate her as ‘deep as the night sky’ and that she must ‘spasm and scream like a fairy on crack’? How do you tell nude actors that their crotches are out of alignment, or that the leading man’s thrusting angle would cause paralysis in his lover? What happens when someone actually gets an erection? Tell us all the secrets of the fucking scenes!

MD: I haven’t done real nudity and real hot and heavy loves scenes… but this what I do… I tell the actors what words I’m going to use… like — slow and passionate… intense… finish (for climaxing)…I try to use simple coverage just to get the basics of the love making scene out of the way, but what I usually like to do in the lovemaking scenes is to make them unique… most scenes like this are generic… so what I do is I usually come up with specific love making “events’ that are funny or memorable — like in “100 Girls,” there is a lovemaking scene where the hero says “No we didn’t make movie love where the guy just slides in like a hot knife through butter… this was more like real life” then I showed the facial reactions of the hero having a hard time getting inside the girl. The girl affectionately replies — “No no, not that hole.” Big laugh in the theater. Then I showed more non-typical [lovemaking] stuff… the girl has to stop kissing because she gets a hair on her tongue… then the hero sneezes during [lovemaking] and the lovers laugh… I also did a bit where the hero describes how air gets trapped between his and his lovers bodies and it makes a farting noise… the actors feel more comfortable doing this than just bumping and grinding because it’s like they’re doing a scene – they have business. Then I use a jump cut, non-continuous editing style so that I can easily just cut together the good shots.

DS: Hypothetical Q incoming. If the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America and volunteer ratings board) and the bullshit social compact of the ultra-conservative USA did not exist, would you be tempted to stay true to real-life in the sense of full nudity and penetration scenes? I’m personally sick-and-tired of watching a fuck scene and noticing that everyone’s genitals is conveniently covered by a sheet, aren’t you?

MD: I have never felt hamstrung by [the MPAA]. Most of the things I want to film fit nicely into the R rating. My troubles come when producers want me to do PG-13 stuff… then I feel stifled. Sex, like horror, is better when it is implied… not too graphic, but it’s a matter of personal taste. Did you miss more graphic stuff in “Boogie Nights?” That might have had a justification for more explicit stuff — it was pretty tame in my book.

DS: As a successful indie filmmaker, can you describe the process of financing an indie film for us? What is involved, and where does the money come from? What advice can you offer to budding producers/directors trying to raise some bread?

MD: Every [indie] film has it’s own story on how it got financed. There are several books written on it from [Robert Rodriguez’s] “Rebel Without A Crew” (where he financed his film thru donating his body to medical experiments) to John Pierson’s all encompassing book on [indie] world: Spike, Mike, Slackers, and Dykes. Here’s a brief summary of the major ways to finance film: Your parents. Foreign presales: difficult unless you have a star attached. Credit cards: dangerous. I financed “8 Days A Week” with my own money, money from an inheritance, money from a studio writing assignment, and a friend who matched me dollar for dollar. For four years, I thought I had flushed 250,000 dollars down the toilet — be ready for that to happen. Finally, the WB deal allowed us to make profit. “100 Girls” and “Girl Fever” were done with a combination of presales, bank loans, and co-financing from a German company, FAME and it’s prez, Michael Bishoff, who was a huge fan of “8 Days A Week” and bought [the German distribution rights]. Dream Entertainment did presales — Ehud Blieberg and Yutz Ginsberg did an incredible job pre-selling the films. My American producers on the films, Terry Michael and Richard Finney, did a great job finding dream after submitting [the] script to a dozen places. The best way to learn about funding [indie] films is to read all the books on it — read Variety and Hollywood Reporter, and [indie] film magazines like Filmmaker. There are so many ways to get film financed; it is harder than [making the film]. The best advice to budding filmmaker… make sure your script is amazing, never been done before, that it speaks some kind of truth, because good films come from greater scripts. Even if you raise the money for your film, it will only be worth going through that hell of getting it financed if the film turns out well. Even if you’ve made a good film, it will be a bitch to sell in this crowded market… so it better be good… making the film is not enough… make sure the film is worth the time and MONEY it took to make it…writing is everything…the script is everything… write write write…make sure it’s an idea worth writing and an idea worth making. Also… I hate hate hate [indie] movies about people making movies… if that’s the only idea you have, then you don’t have any ideas. There have been tons of [indie] movies about this, some good, most bad… don’t do it.

[DS’ NOTE: Ed? Any, uhm, comments on that last part?]

{Editor’s note: Hey, I wrote How To Make An Independent Movie in 1995, when it was still cool to make indie movies about making indie movies. And even you admit it’s a damn good script, so stop being a little bitch and get on with the fucking interview!}

DS: A quickie about “100 Girls.” I personally know several people who are looking forward to seeing this film — seriously — and I’ve been asked to ask you when it’s coming to the US, and better yet, to California. Has it come and gone already? (I really don’t know.) And is there any truth to the rumors that you’ve had trouble finding a distributor?

MD: Lions Gate has picked up the film. People should be able to find it in September. Anybody who knows anything about [indie] film should know that it is difficult to find domestic distribution especially when you make a film that is entertaining and not an arty [indie]. My films unfortunately meld both a studio, entertainment sensibility… and push the limit in an [indie] way. What happens is… studios don’t pick up [indie] films period… so although my films have a “American Pie”/”Fast Times at Ridgemont High” sensibility… they don’t find homes at studios because studios simply don’t pick up [such] films. But since my film isn’t art house… the [independent distributors] of the world won’t pick it up… BUT YES…you should see “100 Girls” on video, DVD, and cable probably in December. No theatrical release in the [USA], but, I must say the film is opening on 200 screens in France on June 27. Just to give you a sense — “Titanic” opened on 200 screens in France. So fuck [domestic] distribution! I’ll take a theatrical release in the rest of the world. I’ve gotten fan letters on “8 Days A Week” from people saying it is their favorite film of all time (can you believe it?) So, just because a film doesn’t get a theatrical release or has a hard time getting domestic distribution doesn’t mean the film isn’t great. It’s just the system. Tell those people to find “100 Girls” in the fall and they will be pleased. It will be worth the wait.

DS: Final question. If you were marooned alone on a desert island, and you found a magic lamp with a horny genie in it, a genie that would grant you one sexual fantasy/wish, what would you wish for?

MD: That I was marooned on the island with the 100 girls in “100 Girls.”

DS: Jesus you are a fucking self-promoting whore douchbag motherfucker. Think you can stick in your fucking film again, dude? This interview is over! This is DARK SAVANT, antijournalist from FILMJERK.COM, signing off.

As if you didn’t catch enough references to Mr. Davis’ works, you can visit his site on the Internet by clicking on this link to 100girls.net. Also, send your letters of complaint and damning, ego-boosting praise to me? I demand to hear your thoughts. And remember, friends don’t let friends rape infants.