Ti West Talks with the Film Connection – Part 8
Dave Baker is a freelance writer, die-hard cinephile, and comic book writer and illustrator. He’s worked with Fox, Universal and other film, media, and entertainment companies. He’s currently working on the strangely terrific web-based comic The Action Hospital.
Film Connection: I’m Dave Baker, and today we are talking with Ti West about The Innkeepers. So The Innkeepers is slightly different than your other movies in that it’s very character-oriented and not so much plot intricacies and structure-oriented. Was that a conscious decision on your part?
Ti West: The Innkeepers is a weirdly personal movie in that when we made House of the Devil we lived in this hotel, just because it was a cheap place to stay when we were shooting the movie and all these weird stuff happened. And so The Innkeepers is very much written about those personal experiences so, it’s also a movie about, like, being stuck in minimum wage jobs and things like that. So I think that most of my movies are sort of about . . . well, I would say everything from House of the Devil on is about the people in the movies first and foremost, but The Innkeepers, I think shows it more aggressively.
Film Connection: I think it’s interesting because it’s like this weird almost comedy that, like, strays into horror. Did you start writing a comedy and then were like, “Well, maybe I’ll make it a horror movie.” Or was it vice versa?
Ti West: I mean, it was always just meant to be about a ghost story but it was just like I just thought it would be a charming ghost story if the character . . . I mean, I feel like, you know, the people in the movie, if they are not funny, then they don’t have very interesting personalities. And I think, like, these people who are bored at work all the time have to amuse themselves and if they weren’t funny and weren’t amusing themselves, it would feel not genuine and it would feel like, “What’s the point?”
But I didn’t think of it like, “Oh, I’m mixing things,” or, “It’s this or it’s that.” It was just sort of like, “Well, it’s a movie about people who were stuck at this hotel and they got to entertain themselves. They are probably going to entertain themselves by being like goofballs.”
Film Connection: What year is The Innkeepers set in, internally?
Ti West: Present day.
Film Connection: Okay. Because it felt a little bit like it was almost a period. I know this sounds a little strange, but it sounds like a period piece set in modern times.
Ti West: Sure. Well, aesthetically I’m not interested in technology as far as in movies. I think it’s really boring, and I remember in that movie even shooting the computer screens. I was like, “What are we doing?” So it’s just not something, like I don’t really have an interest in making movies where people are on iPhones, or they are using iPads or whatever the current technology is. To me, those devices and technological advancements are so not connected to people. They are connected to, like, the thing that is technology that is not interesting to me, like someone having an iPad doesn’t say anything about that person. I guess an iPhone versus a Galaxy III, it’s like, “Oh, you are one of those people.” But it’s such a vague non-thing that it’s like, “That’s not interesting to me.”
Film Connection: Can you talk to me about the score for The Innkeepers, because it really, more so than the other movies, it’s a living breathing thing when you watch the movie?
Ti West: I don’t know. Maybe because the tone of that movie is a little bit odd. The music is a little odder than it normally would be, you know, so it’s more apparent. But, I don’t know. I just always feel like the music should represent what’s sort of going on in the movie and elevate it hopefully that was really our goal. And I’ve worked with Jeff on so many of our movies, and he did a great job on that one.
Film Connection: Are you usually pretty involved in movie scoring?
Ti West: Yeah. I mean, I’m very specific. I probably drive him crazy. But, yeah, him, and then Graham Reznick my sound designer who does some of the music also, they really are the two people that give the sort of pizazz to the movie, you know? And I think that I’m looking forward on the western to start doing that now, because that’s when the movie really comes to life.
Film Connection: Right. Do you ever feel pressure when starting a new movie to live up to the past, to kind of make a movie that’s as good as whatever your last movie was or . . . ?
Ti West: Maybe a little bit, but not really. You don’t want to just blow it. I think it’s more of that. I don’t think it’s about living up to the last movie. It’s more like I have been fortunate that I’ve gotten through all these movies and then like, “Oh, I got through that relatively unscathed, like, the movie turned out pretty good.” So I definitely want to come out and get a movie that turns out not good. But they’re not related to the previous movie at all.
Film Connection: Okay, thanks for coming in, Ti. It was great to talk with you.
Ti West: Yeah, man good to be here.