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Some couples like to spend their time with DIY home renovations; some may even take up extreme sports together; but for THE TERMINATOR and ALIENS star Michael Biehn and his partner Jennifer Blanc-Biehn, shooting horrific sex scenes with genre icon Danielle Harris in an isolated forest made for healthy bonding. The duo teamed up (Biehn as director and scripter, Blanc as a producer, both starring) on the new fright feature THE VICTIM, and sat down with Fango to discuss the guerrilla tactics of indie filmmaking.
THE VICTIM revolves around good-time girls Annie (Blanc) and Mary (Harris), who find themselves in a very nasty situation with two crooked cops. Fleeing from her attackers, Annie stumbles across the cabin of recluse Kyle (Michael Biehn) deep in the woods, throwing his seemingly peaceful life into chaos. The movie, which features makeup FX by Robert Hall’s Almost Human company, is Biehn’s nod to the ethos of the exploitation movies he grew up watching at his local drive-in. “When I was a kid, I was watching grindhouse movies without even knowing they were grindhouse,” he tells us. “They were double-features like TWO-LANE BLACKTOP and Roger Corman films and creature films. It’s not retrospective for me; I’m at an age where those were the movies I grew up with.”
After returning to LA from starring in Xavier Gens’ upcoming futuristic thriller THE DIVIDE, Biehn spied someone reading Robert Rodriguez’s book REBEL WITHOUT A CREW, and was inspired to take fate into his own hands and shoot a movie. He remembered a novella written by Reed Lackey (who co-stars in THE VICTIM) and decided to adapt it, tightening up the story and characters. “It’s the whole idea of, instead of sitting around waiting for stuff to happen, just get a little bit of money together and make a movie, doing it cheap, down and dirty,” Biehn says. “I figured, I’ll do it for nothing, my girlfriend will do it for nothing, I’ll get some friends to do it for nothing and we’ll just f**kin’ make it!” Though no stranger to megabudget productions, Biehn wears THE VICTIM’s 12-day shoot and limited budget like a badge of honor.
Blanc, who also co-stars with Biehn in the upcoming BEREAVEMENT and previously collaborated with Harris on the horror anthology PRANK, adds that the financial restrictions played a great part in the creative process—though she notes that she wasn’t afraid to drop her famous hubby’s name to call in favors. “When I was doing DARK ANGEL,” she recalls, “that pilot cost $20 million, and for THE VICTIM we had about $500,000.” Filming permits and related logistics were among the hard decisions the team had to make: “We almost weren’t going to get permits for anything, and I found myself having to weigh whether we could afford the time if the first AD or line producer got arrested,” she says. “So we got the permits we had to…mostly.”
Biehn believes that this kind of resourceful filmmaking is the future of the medium. “James Cameron always talks about the brilliance of Robert Rodriguez—not knowing that he couldn’t do something, just doing it and not sitting around waiting for things to happen for him. When young actors come up to me and ask me for advice, I tell them, go make a movie, write something. If you can’t write, go do a piece of Shakespeare, get a friend to direct it, put it on YouTube, just get it out there!” Biehn and co. are spreading word about THE VICTIM via its official website, and you can check out a rough-cut clip below.
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