Director’s Cut, Adam Rifkin and Penn Jillette’s warped comedy about obsession and moviemaking, opened the 22nd Slamdance Film Festival on Friday, January 22, 2016.

In a hilariously clever premise, the feature plays out as, ostensibly, the “director’s cut” of a rather stodgy serial killer thriller titled Knocked Off—a cut put together not by the director but by one of the film’s executive producers, Herbert Blount. Blount, played by Jillette himself in a delightfully childlike, lunatic turn, is a wannabe filmmaker who donates a large amount of money to crowdfund Knocked Off, starring his favorite actress, Missi Pyle (playing herself). As part of his donor reward, Blount gets to spend every shooting day on the set of the film, much to the chagrin of cast and crew. He stalks, terrorizes and ultimately kidnaps Pyle, whom he forces to star in a demented “reshoot” of Knocked Off.

Penn Jillette as Herbert Blount in Director's Cut

Penn Jillette as Herbert Blount in Director’s Cut

Led by enthusiastic performances from Jillette and Pyle, Director’s Cut boasts an eclectic, game-for-anything cast in Harry Hamlin, Hayes MacArthur, Lin Shaye, Gilbert Gottfried and Nestor Carbonell, and a cameo from Jillette’s longtime collaborator Teller. With a running voiceover from Blount in the vein of a “director’s commentary,” the inventive format allows for a stream of filmmaking in-jokes and a whole lot of ironic humor at the expense of the hapless protagonist. Indie moviemakers might also appreciate the rueful examination of exactly how beholden a production should be to its crowdfunders, especially those higher up in the rewards ladder (a joke that’s appropriately meta, considering that Rifkin and Jillette crowdfunded for the film).

After playing at Slamdance, Director’s Cut makes a stop at the ArcLight Presents Slamdance Cinema Club on Tuesday, February 2, when it screens at the ArcLight Hollywood. In the following clip by Slamdance TV, shot at the film’s premiere in Park City, both Rifkin and Jillette describe why the offbeat Slamdance was the perfect festival partner for their latest.

“For this movie to premiere as the opening movie at Slamdance, it immediately helps brand our movie as the wacky movie that we want people to know that it is,” says Rifkin in the clip. “People have an association with Slamdance as appreciating cool, unusual, left-of-center kind of movies. So it gives us a great platform to let people know what to expect from a pretty wacko film.”

“I’ve done Sundance, we’ve done Telluride, we’ve done the Toronto Film Festival,” adds Jillette. “I sure do like the funk of Slamdance.”

Watch the rest here. MM

Director’s Cut screens at the ArcLight Hollywood with ArcLight Presents Slamdance Cinema Club, on February 2, 2016, at 8 p.m.

Slamdance TV are the Slamdance Film Festival’s in-house documentarians, pushing work out to the etherwebz and underscoring this year’s newly-discovered visionary filmmakers to new heights. The team is Marie Jamora, Jason McLagan and Christopher Graybill.