Exclusive: Vincenzo Natali Fills Us In On 388 Arletta Avenue

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Starring Stahl, Kirshner & Sawa

A week and a half out from the end of principal photography, executive producer Vincenzo Natali gave Shock Till You Drop a call to discuss the nature of 388 Arletta Avenue, a new thriller we learned about at the American Film Market this year that has attracted the cast Nick Stahl, Mia Kirshner and Devon Sawa.

Canadian filmmaker Randall Cole (Real Time) is directing, and in a press release sent out earlier this month, he said little about the film other than: “388 Arletta Avenue plays with the notion that if you could scratch to beneath the surface of what most supposedly ordinary people present to the world, and even to themselves, you would find very interesting and possibly very dark things. If exploited, some of those things could even result in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, as it does for our lead character.”

Natali, who directed this year’s Splice, was kind enough to offer some more details in his own cryptic way, further heightening our curiosity for the film.

Shock Till You Drop: You’ve worn a lot of hats throughout your career, now you’re executive producing. What prompted you to get behind this project?

Vincenzo Natali: It’s a very luxurious thing to be an executive producer. [laughs] I don’t do much, this is really director Randall Cole’s movie and, in my own way, I’m there to help facilitate his vision. Frankly, he doesn’t need much help. He wrote a great script. It’s conceptually pretty wild and very beautifully constructed. I’m on hand when needed and I try to stay out of the way.

Shock: How were you first introduced to Cole?

Natali: I knew his work and he had approached my producing partner Steve Hoban. But I had not met Randall before this project. I knew him through other people. He had gone to the Canadian Film Center in Toronto, where I had gone. I heard good things and they proved to be right.

Shock: There’s very little being said about the plot of the film. So what can you tell us?

Natali: [laughs] Here’s what I’ll say. It’s very Hitchcockian. It’s a film largely themed from a single individual’s perspective. It’s a beautifully constructed suspense story that’s very psychological. It’s scary, but very smart. It’s existential in its own way, dealing with voyeurism, and notions that technology is changing our perception of ourselves and how we interact with people, in a visceral way. I really think it’s great. It combines things that are new with classic notions of great suspense and drama.

Shock: After some of the things you pulled off in Splice, I think it’s safe to say that some people see you as a dangerous director. Someone who’s not afraid to push buttons. Does 388 Arletta similarly explore taboo boundaries?

Natali: I think so, because of the nature of the story, which I can’t divulge at this moment. Like all of my films, it’s an experiment. When we read the script, we loved it. But we knew making the film had a certain level of risk to it, because it hadn’t been done. We weren’t certain if it would work, but that excited us. We’re so inundated with the same old thing, so we knew we should go for this. It’s also an affordable film. The truth is, the film marketplace is so polarized. You can only make films that are either really big or really small. Our film is being made at a modest price. It shouldn’t be a big film anyway. It’s aesthetic is defined by the budget and vice versa.

Shock: Are there any similarities between 388 Arletta and the film you’re in development on, the adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s High Rise?

Natali: Absolutely. I really love the script. It takes the idea of a script that I had been toying with for years and had never been clever enough to work into a three act structure and makes it work as a movie. It’s a vicarious way to enter into a project I’d like to see. It’s something I feel very comfortable associating myself with. Having said that, it’s 100% Randall’s film and his own identity. The way he’s shooting it is very much on the cutting edge. They’re using these Canon cameras that are extraordinary and they can shoot five cameras at a time.

Shock: Does this film already have a release date or home?

Natali: No, we intentionally are making the film without a domestic distributor. We sold to some international territories, but we intentionally held off on approaching the U.S. We’re only in the business of making movies for theatrical, so we have a lot of confidence that can happen.

Shock: Now, how about yourself? Besides executive producing this film, what’s the latest on your own potential directing projects?

Natali: I’m in my laboratory right now working on a number of things. Things are moving along, let me put it that way. Neuromancer, Tunnels and High Rise are all moving along, it’s just a question of who decides to push the button first.

Source: Ryan Turek, Managing Editor