Published Sep 12, 2015In the 15 years since he released George Washington, director David Gordon Green has had a remarkably diverse career. From strange indies like Manglehorn to a long-rumoured (but sadly shelved) Suspiria remake, it truly feels like anything goes with the director. At a TIFF press conference for his new film Our Brand Is Crisis, he opened up about his long, unpredictable filmography.
"I remember vividly completing a film I shot in Halifax, Snow Angels, and it was a very difficult, pretty hardcore drama without a lot of levity," he said. "I was really proud of the work, and feel like it was a great experience, but I wanted nothing more than to do something that exercised an entirely different muscle. I didn't want to just keep doing dramatic work, and I was emotionally exhausted by the experience. I just wanted to laugh and make something fun with my buddies, so the obvious next step was Pineapple Express.
"My effort in this business is just to make a lot of friends and find people that are supportive of the strange challenges and risks I want to take. Sometimes I want to do the same thing, I feel like I've started something and want to dig a little bit deeper on the next one. And other times I think okay, I did that, tried that, let's be done with it. Other times I want to make a big movie and have a larger backdrop. Like I think [Our Brand Is Crisis] was just, it was nice to be able to have some international scope to it and shoot in multiple locations and try to make a character piece but with a very large canvas. And you can't do that on some of the micro-budgets that I also work on."
Green used Manglehorn as an example of a time when working on a tiny budget offered more creative freedom. "I just wanted to go away for a few weeks with Al Pacino and make it an art project. That's literally what we did. We freestyled and improvised and nobody told us no," he said.
Ultimately, he said he hopes to never be tied down to one thing. "It's cool to be able to have a career that's a passport to the world experience, and just as an audience likes to see different movies every week I kind of want to shake it up and try something new. I was talking last night about how I need to do a documentary, but I haven't come up with the perfect subject matter. But I think that would be an interesting new challenge."
Instead, documentaries have informed his latest work. Our Brand Is Crisis was inspired by Rachel Boynton's 2005 documentary of the same name. It follows some American political strategists as they fight to swing a Bolivian election. "One of the things that opened my mind when I watched [the original documentary] was, I was more or less surprised by the fact that it is the teams of American strategists going to other countries and projecting their influence through a traditional political process.... It was actually educational for me to go to Bolivia and talk to people about that kind of occasion and realize how common that really is.
Our Brand Is Crisis opens on October 30.