Film Director Interview: Bryan Poyser : “Lover’s of Hate”

Written by: Mut Asheru

Lover’s of Hate has managed to stir up a lot of love for itself this year on the indie film festival circuit.  The film’s condensed cast of 4 main characters, intense timeline and mainly one shoot location provides the right amount of claustrophobic-ness needed for a crowded love affair that lends no apologies on anyone’s behalf.   Indie film Writer / Director Bryan Poyser of Austin, TX intentionally leaves out the finger pointing by refusing to go into deep character exploration mode.  He gets right down to business pointedly dropping us right in the middle of everyone’s messy life.   Smart.

Movie-Director-Bryan-PoyserRudy (Chris Doubek) is not so successful whereas his brother Paul (Alex Karpovsky) is widely so.  Rudy’s wife Diana (Heather Kafka) has decided to end the marriage and gives in to her desire to get to know his brother Paul a little bit better.  Sounds dramatic right?  In other scriptwriting hands this film probably would have been about homicide but what does Poyser do?  He turns into a suspenseful comedy, of sorts, as Rudy becomes trapped in the huge (and absolutely gorgeous) house with his brother and wife unbeknownst to them.

Poyser recently took time out of his schedule to speak with Unsigned about his film and its success.

Knowshi:  We like the characters, but we don’t like the characters. Did you consciously set out to write them (as is) without having them explain or apologize for their actions?

Poyser:  In writing the script, I tried to not be afraid to push the characters into “unlikable” places. The story dictated that they would do some terrible things to each other, but in my mind, they each had justification for doing what they did. They all are trying to do their best by themselves and each other, however twisted the actions may be.

Knowshi:  Did you ever feel the need to place a cushion of protection around any of them? If so, which one and why?

Poyser:   In the editing process, there were a few things taken out or adjusted to make the characters a bit more “likable.” Or rather to give the story some balance so that no one character would be mutually-agreed-upon by the entire audience as “the villain.” Certainly some people identified one or the other character as the “jerk” or “most assholish.” But, I tried hard to keep the balance so that the film would almost be like a Rorschach test, where your feelings about the characters said more about you than about them.

Knowshi:  Did you set out to write a film with such an intense time frame?

Poyser:  I wrote the movie to make it, not to send the script around to agents or producers or financiers and wait for someone to give us permission and/or money. It had been about 5 years since I had directed a feature myself and I just couldn’t stand the idea of waiting any more. I knew I wanted to write something for Chris Doubek to star in. I knew I wanted to use the house in Park City as a major location and I knew I needed to come up with something simple so that we could actually pull it off. What could be more simple than 3 characters in one house? Of course, that house happened to be 1,400 miles away from where the cast & crew lived, but we got to add snowy mountain landscapes to what is essentially an all-Austin film.

Knowshi:  What kind of concessions did you have to make (if any) to stay within budget?

Poyser:  Our budget didn’t allow us to bring any fancy equipment up to Park City with us. No dolly, no jib arm, no Steadicam. It would have been great to have those tools to play with, but instead we had to just rely on the particular geometry of the house to heighten the tension and suspense of the cat-and-mouse game between Rudy and Paul & Diana. It forced me and the cinematographer David Lowery to shoot each room from every conceivable angle to keep it fresh and interesting. It still would have been great to have some tracking shots in there, thought!

Knowshi:  We would love for Rudy to get it together. Does he?

Poyser:  Does Rudy get it together? I don’t know. I think we leave him on the cusp of something new. A new way to see himself, a new way to see the other people in his life. Maybe he doesn’t make a major change in his behavior or outlook from that point forward, but I liked the idea of leaving his character in a still, contemplative moment. I talked to Chris a lot about the idea that his moment on the bus stop bench was going to be maybe the first time we say Rudy just be still with himself. He’s moving a lot in the film and usually if he’s still, he’s hiding or secretly boiling with rage. But, at the bus stop, he just lets himself sit down and absorb everything. What happens next, I don’t really know. It’s up to the audience to imagine.

Knowshi:  What has been the most rewarding thing for you about this film?

Poyser:  Getting the film into Sundance was certainly a huge, satisfying experience for me. It’s a goal I’d had since I first started making student films back at the University of Texas in the mid-90s. And, the 5 screenings we had at the festival were enormously gratifying. Hearing 800+ people in the giant Eccles Theater at Sundance laugh at a moment in the film that I cut and re-cut over and over again to get just right on my wheezy little circa-2005 MacMini in my cramped little office back in Austin months before – that’s just kind of amazing. It can convince you that all the sweat and toil and loneliness of micro-budget filmmaking maybe, sometimes, is worth it.

Knowshi:  Is it okay to ask you what you have coming up next or should we chill and let you bask in the soft afternoon glow of your current success?

Poyser:  What’s next? I’m not really sure yet. I’ve just started writing a new feature but it’s in the pretty early stages now. I probably will end up making another short this year. I enjoy making shorts. Since the shoots are usually only a couple days or so, it’s much easier to pull the trigger on them. And, it gives you an opportunity to try something a little different, to maybe flex muscles you haven’t yet on a feature. I have this one simple, yet also very complex idea for a short that I’ve been thinking about for a while. I’m hoping to give that a shot in the fall.

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