White Reindeer, Zach Clark’s mordant, hilarious, surreal, brooding, hopeful paean to Christmas, opens this Friday in limited release, and to ring in that joyful date, the director penned us a summary of how he made the film – in verse.
We could keep going about the film – what it’s about, who’s in it, how much we liked it – but we doubt anything we can say will be more informative or persuasive than Clark’s own poetry. Enjoy!
‘Twas four months before Christmas, and I was quite stumped.
If we didn’t shoot in December, I’d feel like a chump.
I’d written a script, we’d shown it around.
We searched high and low, but no money was found.
Daryl and Melodie, my producing companions
(The Popes to my Schrader, in terms of The Canyons)
Had given their all on our previous creations,
We’d worked with low budgets, and I do mean low.
The cost for these films was little to no.
The script for White Reindeer was much more ambitious.
So we wrote a business plan and took it quite serious.
We didn’t want much, but we sure did want more
Than any of us had to make a movie before.
We could wait for a year, but that didn’t seem smarter,
So we did it ourselves and launched a Kickstarter.
Before we continue, a little preamble,
Going in, I knew that this thing was a gamble.
Sad Christmas movies are rare, this is true,
But this one had strippers, cocaine, and an orgy too.
We follow a real estate agent, Suzanne,
Whose Christmas isn’t going according to plan.
Her husband dies, and she finds out he cheated,
But her holiday spirit will not be defeated.
She confronts the other woman, but that’s not where it ends
Instead of enemies, they become awkward friends.
Suzanne parties hard, with drugs and binge shopping,
But Christmas is coming, with no way of stopping.
I’d been writing the script for about a year,
Inspired by Sirk, plus my own holiday cheer,
The smut of Joe Sarno, and events from my life,
Though I have never been a weatherman’s wife.
It was depressing and funny, but not quite commercial,
And the economy seemed to be going in reversal.
We had the passion to make it, we had the know how,
And more than anything, we wanted to do it now!
The Kickstarter went up, and the race was on
To raise all the money or our hope would be gone.
We bothered everyone, and suffered much stress.
Every single day, I felt like a mess.
But we did it! We just barely raised every penny,
Then dove into production, where stresses were many.
We had just a month to put it all together
And relocate to Virginia for the cold winter weather.
I met Anna Margaret through mutual pals.
And everyone said, “She’s a talented gal!”
She auditioned for us, and we were instant fans.
I knew in a moment that she must be Suzanne.
Laura we met at the Atlanta Film Fest
At a divey gay bar (aren’t those the best?)
We read her on Skype and gave her a part
And a few weeks later we were scheduled to start.
The shoot, for the most part, was fun and serene.
There was no snow that winter, so we rented machines.
We shot on the RED EPIC, which then was quite new.
We painted a living room from magenta to blue.
We shot in a strip club and Christmas tree lot.
We ran around malls and didn’t get caught.
The schedule was tight, so we had to work breezily.
A Dana Dolly helped us do camera moves easily.
Here is advice that you should remember,
A Christmas movie needs to be shot in December.
Shooting around holidays can sure be a blessing
When the world is covered with free set dressing.
We broke for January, and regrouped post Sundance
To shoot Suzanne’s neighbors and their strange brand of romance.
There was a chill in the air, and we had to move quickly.
During the orgy, a set cold made everyone sickly.
I was cutting the movie in my office at home,
(One more way of keeping costs next to none)
Though the shoot had gone well, with very few hiccups,
It became clear in the edit, we needed some pick-ups.
We reshot some scenes, to make them work better.
I added a ghost in a red Christmas sweater.
To realize Suzanne’s dreams of Hawaii
We flew to Puerto Rico, which worked out divinely.
Now the movie is done, and I’m happy it’s nearly
Time to release it in a month I love dearly.
I’ve got the script for the next one, which follows a nun,
And like White Reindeer, will be both sad and fun.
Hopefully the budget will be a little larger,
(I’m crossing my fingers we won’t need Kickstarter.)
In the meantime, however, all is calm, all is bright.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
– Zach Clark, 2013 MM
White Reindeer opens in select cities on Friday, December 6, 2013, courtesy of IFC Films.