Annette Brown, Lifetime The story of June Carter Cash comes to life in the…
- Posted on Sep 14th 2009 3:00PM by Drew Berner
This is Thurier's third trip to TIFF, with every one of his indie efforts having been selected -- 'Low Self-Esteem Girl' in 2000, 'Male Fantasy' in 2004 and now 'A Gun to the Head.'
"I made 'Low Self-Esteem Girl' because I had been a cartoonist for a long time and was tired of working alone all the time," Thurier tells Spinner in the courtyard at Toronto's Intercontinental Hotel on the eve of his film's world premiere. "Then it got into [TIFF] and I was able to bring the band to Toronto. It was a nice little launch for both things at the same time."
Yes, that's right. Nine years ago, Thurier was using the attention from his film debut to promote his band, then still a few months away from releasing its first album. Now that the New Pornographers have attracted a large following and critical acclaim, Thurier treats music as a job -- albeit a great one -- while filmmaking is his creative outlet.
"In the New Pornographers, I'm just a player. I do what [band leader] Carl [Newman] tells me most of the time -- which is a great role to have, it's very low-responsibility," Thurier admits. "So he's the one that gets a little nervous before a show, and I'm like, 'Relax Carl, it's just a song.' When I do movies it's me doing it, so it's a lot of pressure and very nerve-wracking. It's different because now I'm the one under the gun. I don't make these just to show myself and my friends. I really want audiences to respond to it -- and it hurts when they don't and I love it when they do."
While audiences will get to respond to the visceral thrills of 'A Gun to the Head,' the crew had plenty of thrilling moments themselves while filming. Thurier shunned the bureaucracy of permits, instead shooting guerrilla-style with a tiny crew and using the video function on a Canon digital SLR camera to capture the action. The crew's appearance in certain Vancouver neighbourhoods where the movie was filmed irked local residents, leading to at least one brush with the law.
"We rolled around in a big black Escalade, like, six guys in a truck circling one neighbourhood -- it looked like we were taking a hit out on somebody," Thurier recalls. "We got constantly stopped [by the police], and one night they pulled us over and shined their flashlights on us. [Actor] Paul [Anthony] got out of the truck and wanted to finish the scene, but we had a fake gun on the dashboard and he had a bag full of fake cocaine and $5,000 in real cash in the bag and no ID on him. It was a little bit scary."
Anthony was just as scared as everyone else, but it was likely his response that saved the group from a lot of explaining. Anthony says that when he got out of the truck, "I just put my hands up immediately and said, "There's a fake gun on the dashboard of the car. We're filming a movie, you can see my microphone."
Close calls like that aren't likely to discourage Thurier from continuing his film career. "[It's] what I've wanted to do since I was a little kid. I have stories and characters in my head that just don't work as keyboard parts."