BUTTERCUP BILL & THE GIRLS BEHIND IT
Featured Image of Emilie & Remy photographed by KELSEY BENNETT
Amour fou, or doomed love, is a constant throughout the twisted plight of Patrick and Pernilla. Set to a hazy days dreamscape typical of the South, the film rocks gently to a backdrop of classic soul, something that reminds me of an afternoon mix tape you would listen to on a quiet porch. If you are into film theory and scopophilia is one of your favorite words, you will love the unexpected, rarely used female gaze of the psychological, sexual semi-thriller that is Buttercup Bill. Even if you are not a total nerd about noticing how long a shot is held before a cut, or the colors that remind you of the last time you were drinking by the Mississippi, it’s a film that will pull you in. With a style reminiscent of David Lynch, and lovers who seem more like twins separated at birth (if you’ve read Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle by Nabokov you’ll perk up a bit in your seat), friends who might actually be soul mates,Émilie Richard-Froozan and Remy Bennett, have produced a piece that is breath-taking, twisted, and painfully poignant upon realization that it is based even a little on biographical incidences.
ÉMILIE: When I was a kid my father hated children and he didn’t know what to do with them really, so when he spent time with me he’d take me to do what he wanted to do, and he liked to go to the movies. So he took me to all of these film festivals in the city and took me to a bunch of movies that I probably shouldn’t have seen and I just sort of got into it.
REMY: I mean, same thing for me, basically. It just started very, very young. My grandmother was a huge cinephile and we’d hang out and watch movies. So it basically it was an early-on family “thing.”
ÉMILIE: Remy and I met when we were 16 and were very different people, were complete opposites. Like we were at a court kind of a thing, and Remy was actively trying to get kicked out of it because she just wanted to go home and I was like “Oh no, don’t listen to her, don’t listen to her!” She was the rebellious, crazy one, and I was the goody-two-shoes. I guess with our scripts, when we’d get creative, those two sides would come out and reverse themselves and split back and forth but whatever it was – we were always in-sync with what we wanted to do but coming from two completely different angles.
REMY: I think, also, because we’re such good friends, underlying everything else there’s definitely a mutual respect there. So we can talk about different ideas or debate things, sort of go “Okay, well one person is going to have to compromise,” but it’s never personal, it’s never vindictive. It’s always a very positive, creative thing. We love the same things, we share books, we share movies, hang out and just sort of workshop things with each other, which is nice.
ÉMILIE: I guess “Buttercup Bill,” our movie, if I had to sum it up would be – and I think it’s the way anyone can relate to the film – it’s about somebody in your life, and it works so well just you and them on your own, but when it comes to the rest of the world and society, it just doesn’t; it’s something very common and it’s something that you want more than anything. It’s that spark or that feeling in all of the movies or books you’ve ever read, but it’s not really sustainable. It’s about anything you’ve ever wanted but could never have.
DID YOU WRITE THE SCRIPT TOGETHER?
(IN UNISON) Yup!
ÉMILIE: Well, we just drew a lot of inspiration from our lives, it was basically an amalgamation of both of our experiences, but also a lot of literature and photography that we really liked.
REMY: We liked the idea that art does not have to be uplifting to reveal things, and that it doesn’t have to have a positive message, per se. To embrace art that can be dark and negative and unapproachable is something that we were really into doing – it isn’t like there’s some bright and shiny message at the end of the film. But the inspiration was definitely biographical in terms of both of our lives.
ÉMILIE: It kind of happened at this moment when both of us had gone through very different things but, aesthetically, it all came together in this world that was quite similar in the end.
DOWN TO NEW ORLEANS.
ÉMILIE: Ummmm… have you ever seen “Apocalypse Now?” (laughs) It’s kind of like that! We shot in Louisiana during a heat wave, and there were a lot of bugs, and it was crazy.
REMY: Also, the reason why we shot down there is because we have this whole group of friends there, so it was a very supportive environment –
ÉMILIE: It wasn’t random. Before we even got this (movie) together, I had this boyfriend who lived down there. So basically I fell in love and went to go see this guy, he lived in this house, and it’s the house where we ended up shooting the movie. It’s this amazing house and there were a lot of people living in it. Remy came down to visit and we were like “Let’s write a movie!” So we wrote the script and had the locations, which are sort of like characters themselves.
REMY: And a lot of our friends ended up playing themselves.
This interview was published on SHK 06.14.