(Girl) fight club
Q-and-A with local filmmaker Jason Rudy
Sacramento-made Sukeban: Octopus Pot, filmmaker Jason Rudy’s Pinky Violence girl-gang feature, will premiere next Thursday, October 16, at the Crest Theatre, with screenings at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Rudy recently chatted with SN&R:
How did Sukeban: Octopus Pot come to be?
Well, it came from my love of Pinky Violence films, which are like Japanese girl-gang films of the 1970s. I’ve been an avid movie collector since I was 15 years old, and I’m gonna be 35 next week, so for like 20 years I’ve been really into film and the whole subculture of film. I’d say after Kill Bill hit, that opened up the door. … DVD companies started releasing things that were previously unavailable and I just bought everything I saw and watched everything and got the whole feel for it. I sat around with my friend Debbie [Chang], who’s the lead, and we’re both big fans of, like, Sex and Fury and Female Yakuza Tale and such, and it was like, “Wow, we should make a Pinky Violence film.” So as I was watching ’em, I kinda got a recipe of different ideas and made my own story.
I think that might be the longest girl fight I’ve ever seen, in life or in a movie.
So, you’re into that?
Oh yeah. I’m a big pro-wrestling fan as well, so as a young boy I grew up watching the WWF and all that stuff—all the wrestling in the ’70s and ’80s, and I love fights. So I sat down with my two main girls in the gang, and we watched They Live, and we watched the Clint Eastwood Any Which Way You Can and Every Which Way but Loose, and we watched The Quiet Man. And we timed them. I wanted a really long fight scene. I used to wrestle as well, so I coached the girls, taught them holds and taught them the psychology of the holds, and basically had them go through what they could do and edited it all together to kind of form a match.
And how about the girls humping in the shower?
Funny story behind that. I learned that I had to put that pretty early in the shooting process. I read interviews with directors that say if you ever have a shower scene, shoot it early, because if you put it late and the person chickens out or something, you’re screwed. So I shot that on the very first weekend, in case something happened. But I went over it with them, and it was in the script, and they read it and they both agreed to it. And I told them, “There’s gonna be nudity in the scene.” And I said, “I won’t show you from the waist down from the front, because in Japanese films, they don’t show the vagina, or it’s usually blurred out anyway, and I follow that code of filmmaking. So I promise you, you won’t see that. But you will see your boobs, you will see your butt, you’ll see this and that.” And they said OK. And they went through and did it all in one take.
Very efficient! Tell us more about making the movie.
I started shooting Sukeban: Octopus Pot in February, and we wrapped in April, and I started editing in May and just finished everything in September. I had a very small crew. We had probably five or six crew people. We all work 9-to-5 jobs as waiters and in retail and such, so we basically shot on weekends and some days after work for a couple hours here and there. Generally, I called in a lot of favors. I work at the Video Clearance Center during the day. So I used two of their locations. And I also work at Old Ironsides during the nighttime, so I called in a favor there and shot during the daytime. And then I shot at Press Club for the Agent Ribbons set that’s in the movie. And then I had a few other locations at people’s houses.
Where’s that creepy-looking room where they tie her to the chair and beat her up and that guy gets shot in the balls?
That’s actually my grandmother’s garage.
Nice. So, is there anything you’d like to tell audience members?
Well, it’s a girl-gang film. And I hope people will like it. The subject matter may not be for everybody, but hopefully they’ll keep an open eye. But in our society and in our age group, I think everybody’s gonna have a good time.
You’ve got some much-loved local personalities in there. Casting Steve Vanoni as the bad guy was inspired.
Steve I know just from being around. I always thought he looked like Lee Marvin, and I always loved his voice. And I saw him as, like, the elder statesman of this cool scene. And in this he’s a bad guy, but you understand why he’s a bad guy. He’s all into his style.
And, of course, there are the musical stylings of Chelsea Wolfe.
I was always a fan of Chelsea’s and she was a friend of Debbie’s, and she said, ‘Hey, if you need any music …’ She wrote an original score, and I used her stuff with Red Host as well. She was so professional and efficient, a great joy to work with.
What’s your plan now?
I definitely want to do a sequel to the film. And I want to do a whole Sukeban series. Sukeban in Japanese is a slang word, and suke is short for “girl,” and ban is short for “boss.” So it’s girl-boss. So I kinda want to do a whole girl-boss series. And not just Pinky Violence but also horror films. And I really want to do strong female protagonists and strong female antagonists. And maybe weave certain characters in and out of different stories. My goal is to try and make one to two features per year, along with one short film, just tons of straight-to-DVD stuff, and play it locally and send it to festivals. And just keep having a good time, and it’ll lead to bigger and better things.