The dude who started the potato salad Kickstarter campaign notwithstanding (seriously, I like money, too, but come on), I have seen a lot of interesting and worthwhile Kickstarters come down the pipe in recent months, from Levar Burton’s Reading Rainbow campaign to WARPO toys trying to get Cthulhu action figures on the shelves.
One such campaign that has plucked the strings of my cinema lover’s heart is for Sinners Holiday, a new grindhouse film by rock musician-turned-director P.J. Wolff. Sinners Holiday, which boasts a talented cast including Natasha Lyonne of Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, But I’m A Cheerleader, and the American Pie franchise, will be made in the tradition of Wolff’s beloved exploitation films of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. According to the Kickstarter page, the film will feature bad girls, kinky cops, and rock & roll. In it, three strip teasers make off with 160 grand from their lecherous boss, who dispenses the Lords Motorcycle Gang to chase the ladies across the desert to retrieve the loot.
The trailer Wolff and his team have made for the movie is phenomenal and makes me want to rewatch Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Motor-Psycho. For Sinners Holiday to become a reality, however, Wolff needs money to get the movie in front of our eye-holes, hence the Kickstarter campaign. I had the chance to ask P.J. Wolff some questions by e-mail about Sinners Holiday and its influences.
From the interview and the Kickstarter page, it’s easy to see the degree of passion Wolff has for Sinners Holiday. While he admits on the campaign page that the goal of $333,000 is ambitious, he says that the budget has been trimmed to account for every one of those dollars. If you want to contribute, check out the campaign page. And please do, because I want to see this movie. Like now.
FreakSugar: Did the idea for Sinners Holiday come to you first, or did you know the type of film you wanted to create and you created the story based on the genre?
Wolff: Great question—the latter actually. The first thing I ever directed was a video for the band I was in at the time called Dragbeat. We were kind of a 60’s/garage-y type band and I set the video in a seedy 60’s style strip club and we were the house band—shot in black and white 16mm—very vintage B-movie. When I finished that, I thought “Wouldn’t it be cool as hell to do a whole movie like this?” Thus the seeds of Sinners Holiday were sewn.
When I actually sat down to write the script, I wanted to keep it in that 50’s, 60’s early 70’s B-movie realm and not get too clever/tricky with the plot, though at the same time I was keenly aware of the short-comings of a lot of those films. They had great attitude, dialogue, camera angles, etc., but often times the story ran a little thin after a while and the characters tended to be a bit two-dimensional. Hopefully I’ve managed to maintain the style and ‘tude, but wrap it up in a more compelling story with more emotionally engaging characters.
FreakSugar: You mentioned in your intro video that you were influenced by exploitation films. That’s pretty clear from the trailer you provided. Which films really stuck with you? (The first exploitation film I remember watching is Billy Jack, by the way.)
Wolff: Well, I think the obvious—in regard to Sinners anyway—would be the mid-60’s Russ Meyer classics Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Motor-Psycho with a dash of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, but I loved a great many of those types of films—early Jack Hill like Spider Baby and Pit Stop, classic comic book style stuff like Barbarella & Danger Diabolik, road films like Two-Lane Blacktop the list goes on.
FreakSugar: Were you influenced by any other cinema? I think I saw some Italian influences in there.
Wolff: Italian for sure—Leone, Bava, Antonioni, etc., some German expressionist films, Bergman (though not the usual Bergman selects), plus more modern filmmakers like David Lynch, Gus Van Sant, Woody Allen—once again, the list goes on.
FreakSugar: Natasha Lyonne seems like a huge get for this film. How did she become involved?
Wolff: We filmed the trailer several years ago actually, before her phenomenal recent success with [Orange Is the New Black]. I had enlisted Corey Parks (formerly of [rock & roll band] Nashville Pussy) to be the main badass and she had mentioned that an actress friend of hers might be interested in joining the team—turns out that friend was Natasha. She had recently righted the course of her much-publicized drift into choppy water and was laying low in So-Cal. We all had a great time shooting out in Joshua Tree for the weekend. She’s super cool and SCARY talented—she did a brief Joplin routine for me and our wardrobe gal that blew our minds and gave us chills. I couldn’t be happier for her.
FreakSugar: This project seems like a true labor of love, and I have to say my heart shouted “Hell yeah!” when I heard the voice of Burr Middleton [the voice in the Sinners Holiday trailer and the original voice in the Dirty Harry trailers]. The attention to detail is mind-blowing, just from the trailer. Which detail or details are you most proud of?
Wolff: The trailer shoot, though it was fun, was very tough (as are most no-budget productions). I’d have to say the detail I’m most proud of is the people who were involved—both in front of and behind the camera. Without them, NONE of it would have happened. No one got paid and all were total pros with no reason to be all the way out in the middle of the F-n desert except for their belief in me and the project.