MM: Did your single-mindedness surprise you?

PB: I was shocked at myself. When I went home that night and sat there and looked at my iPhone—because we didn’t have playback, we had no money—I then suddenly went, “Wow! You were a monster today, monstrous to people!” I would never shout. I hate directors who do that, but I pushed people to uncomfortable places that day.

MM: What were some of the monstrous things you mention you did on set?

PB: You’re a director, so this lizard brain just kicks in over everything, going, “God, I hope they really kiss a lot. I gotta get it!” Or there’s this awful bit of you going, “Jesus, she’s really frail. She’s got herself so skinny. Let’s shoot it!” There’s this awful, awful, hateful monster that comes out of you. She’s so skinny and they’re in the pool and the pool is really cold and she’s going, “Can I get out?” and you’re going, “No you can’t because we haven’t got the shot. Stay in the fucking pool!” I’m ashamed to say.

MM: You mentioned how hard directing was and that your shoot was only 21 days. So will you direct again?

PB: I’ll direct again. I’ll never allow myself to be given so little time. You’re foolish and a novice: “I think I can do this. I think I can do this in this time.” But with 21 days, there’s not enough space for making mistakes. Mistakes are great; they are how you learn.

MM: You have “Captain America: Civil War” coming out. What’s it like working on those superhero films?

PB: There’s an apogee of superhero movies. If you’re going to do one, do it with the right people, fans who really understand the genre. Kevin Feige and Jeremy Latcham [producers of The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and Iron Man] are fans of those stories, so you get to go on set with incredibly creative and funny, lovely people. So they’re actually a lot of fun to make and a real relief.

MM: Are you concerned these franchise films are dominating Hollywood?

PB: The problem is that there is so much noise that it’s very hard for you to get your movie with less of a publicity budget heard. And it’s interesting: People don’t seek out movies anymore. You’re told which movies to go and see… You’re told, even in the independent world, what to go and see. It’s lionized before you see it. You listen to people say, “Oh, so and so is getting an Oscar nomination.” “Have you seen the film?” ‘No, but she’s a shoo-in.” It’s amazing.

Bloggers are in the business of fortune-telling. They’re saying, “Well, this one’s a lock in for the Oscars.” And then so many of them will fall away because news rolls over like this now [snaps his finger] and they want another story. Films that come out of Toronto… I remember with Creation, they said, “There’s Oscar buzz around it.” No, there wasn’t. For five fucking seconds, there was. I can’t believe we still listen to it, which is why I’m totally tuned out when I see movies I want to see. I don’t read the blogs. I don’t read the reviews.

MM: Do you think audiences want to see a movie that goes in such dark places? 

PB: It’s a film about hope for me. The story initially was about a ghost who is walking the streets of New York City who has done terrible things and can’t get to heaven to be with his family. Then he finds a girl who thinks she’s a ghost but he knows she’s still alive and if he can just get her home to her family, he can go home to his. For me that’s a moving, optimistic story. However, there’s a sort of fashion at the moment for people to say, [derogatorily], “The film is a bit dark!” What are you talking about? The Crucible is dark. Does that stop it being one of the greatest American plays ever? Agamemnon is pretty dark. Are we not to have films about redemption? We want to gut things of all darkness. But in actual fact you can’t make a film about redemption without darkness. How can you redeem someone from really happy situation to a really happy situation?I don’t understand. Maybe I’m alone in the world and I don’t understand how drama works. My next movie is a comedy about stupid rich people. MM

Shelter opened in theaters on November 13, 2015, courtesy of Screen Media Films.

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