I wanna talk about some of the music—do you write specific songs into your scripts?
Absolutely, even though you’re really not supposed to. That’s like screenwriting 101. They’re always saying not to put specific songs in because you might not get the rights, and they generally advise writers—I keep saying “they” like there’s some governing screenwriting body. But “they” discourage it because that’s considered overstepping the director, since it’s ultimately their creative choice.
I really loved the use of “Strange” by Galaxie 500 during the fantasy sequence where Lisa and the creature first fall in love.
I’m really hoping that kids will discover that song and give Galaxie 500 some streams because that music raised me. I’ve been very lucky because starting from my first project, directors have always said “I love these songs, let’s try and get as many as we can get.” And Zelda was the same way. She read the script and said, “1989 goth music? Let’s do this.” The music budget was scant, but it often is. Studios are not just throwing money around these days.
The film is being marketed as this sort of oddball romance—which it certainly is—but it’s also much weirder and transgressive than a two-minute trailer can really communicate. Was this script a hard sell to studios?
It wasn’t easy, which is funny because I loved it so much and always really believed in the material. Then my manager said, “I hate to break it to you, but this isn’t a super commercial movie and won’t be the easiest sell in the world.” I’m really glad it landed at Focus Features because there were a few entities who said, “We really love this, but can we lose the severed penis?” Thankfully Focus loved the severed penis.
I think it’s a testament to just how difficult it is to get a project made right now that even an established, Oscar-winning screenwriter faces so many hurdles.
I might as well be brand-new and just starting out in the biz. I have these conversations with TV development people where they say, “We’re just wondering what the tone is gonna be?” And I’m like, “I’ve written a lot of movies, so go to IMDB, watch something I’ve written, and that is what it’s going to sound like!”