Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on May 11th 2012 1:30PM by Sarah Kurchak
White Water Films
Despite playing such a convincing -- and beloved -- punk in the '90s cult classic film SLC Punk, actor and fledgling director Matthew Lillard insists that he was never into the scene himself.
"I liked punk rock music, but I didn't love it," Lillard tells Spinner. "It was just kind of always something in the background."
Lillard was a teenaged misfit who found some salvation through art, though, so when he read a book called Fat Kid Rules the World almost a decade ago, he really identified with its music-loving outsider characters.
"I had a crazy emotional response to it," says Lillard. "You know, it's the story of an outcast and I was that same kind of kid in high school, but instead of punk rock music, I found drama. It changed my life. So I thought that something about that story was timeless. I wanted to tell it."
The actor stepped behind the camera for the first time to tell the story of Troy, an obese and depressed teenager whose life is saved both literally and metaphorically when a former classmate and local guitar legend prevents his suicide attempt and talks him into forming a band together. And although he still doesn't think of himself as much of a music geek ("I'm the pop connoisseur," he says with a laugh at one point in the interview. "I have all of the things that you can download on iTunes!"), his musical choices for the film are certainly impressive enough to earn him an honorary membership amongst the music snobs of the world.
First of all, he was so dead set on using a particular song by seminal American punk band X in Fat Kid that he went to some pretty extreme lengths to secure the rights.
"It was really, really important for me to have X's 'The Hungry Wolf.' That cue alone cost more than all of the other cues put together. It cost more than I made in the movie! But I put that cue in because the first album I ever bought was X's Under the Big Black Sun,'" he says. "X was a huge piece of music for me."
Secondly, with the help of his agent, Lillard recruited Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready to contribute music to the film.
"It's one of the few times in my entire life where the agent has made a direct impact on my life," says Lillard. "She said 'Do you need music for your movie? What about Mike McCready of Pearl Jam?' and I was like, 'That would be heaven on earth.' She picked up the phone and, four days later, I was sitting and lunch with McCready, begging him to do the movie," recalls the lifelong Pearl Jam fan. "And it was one of those magical moments where I was pitching him on why he should do it, he was pitching me on why he should do it, and we both said yes in that moment. And it was one of the best collaborative relationships I've ever had."
Even the promotion and distribution for Fat Kid comes with a certain punk rock-esque ethos. Despite debuting to rave reviews at South By Southwest in March and winning the SXSW Audience Award for Narrative Feature Spotlight along with nabbing the closing slot at the TIFF Nextwave Festival this weekend, the film hasn't really nabbed any satisfying business offers. So Lillard and his crew are going to bring a little DIY to the process.
"We were confronted with distribution opportunities that all sucked," he says, frustrated. "Hollywood doesn't know how to make money on a movie like this. They don't see where a punk rock movie about an obese teenager and disenfranchised kids [can succeed]. And yeah, we're a small movie, but every offer we got from people to release the movie was terrible. So instead of taking their terrible offer. We're doing it ourselves. We're doing a Kickstarter campaign. Our bet is on the film and we're betting that people will turn out and we're betting that they like the movie. That they'll turn out and support it."
Fat Kid Rules the World screens as part of the TIFF Nextwave festival on Sunday, March 12 at 8:30 p.m.