By Joey Ally, AFI FEST Now
Before anything else, in the interest of journalistic integrity I should admit to the following: I am absolutely Antonio Campos’s #1 fanboy (or, in this case, girl). I first became aware of Campos’s work five years ago when — still a New Yorker and still (kinda/sorta/sometimes on Wednesdays) trying to make acting my main jam — my scene study teacher was plucked for a role in AFTERSCHOOL (AFI FEST 2008). The work since produced by his film company — Borderline Films, comprised of Campos (writer/director: AFTERSCHOOL, SIMON KILLER), Sean Durkin (writer/director: MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE), and Josh Mond (producer of all three, in addition to numerous others), who met during their time in undergrad film school at NYU — has been nothing short of incendiary, engendering discourse and (gasp!) even agreement throughout the independent film world. Everyone digs these dudes.
Yet sitting down with Campos on Tuesday in Beverly Hills, it was immediately apparent that in spite of the Hollywood-hoover-cloud swirling just above him, Campos possesses one of the most calming demeanors I’ve yet to come across this go round the sun. The lull of his voice, the minimalism of his motions, and the intention behind his eye-contact — as though saying “yes, I’m here with you” — make it apparent why he is able to command such delicately tremendous performances. Actors trust him because he’s a guy you trust, plain and simple.
For 40 minutes, we chatted about SIMON KILLER, AFTERSCHOOL, the New York from which Campos draws his inspiration, and why existentialism shakes his cage, among many other things (such as why the choice of handle for the titular character in SIMON KILLER is not, in fact, a reference to the game “Simon says”….though if you’re reading, Antonio, I maintain that the hypothesis was not totally unfounded).
Here’s some of that conversation.
AFN: First of all, I just want to say thank you for meeting with me. I’ve actually been following you, and Borderline Films, since the casting stage of AFTERSCHOOL because I was in Alexandra Neil’s scene study at the time.
AC: Oh I’m so happy to hear that — I really like Alex. I had it in my head that Alex Neil’s character was sort of connecting the AFTERSCHOOL universe and SIMON KILLER. We were gonna put Brady (Corbet, who portrays the eponymous “Simon”) in a “Brighton Academy” (the fictitious school that serves as the backdrop for AFTERSCHOOL) sweatshirt, like he was the brother to the twins that died or something, but it was too much.