By Chris High
Quentin Tarantino treated film fans to a lengthy Q and A after an exclusive screening of his new movie Death Proof at FACT, and no subjects were off limits. Fans quizzed him on his favourite movie death, his music even getting advice on how to get into the film industry during the hour and a half session.
After watching the movie from the audience, Tarantino came to the front of the screen to respond to questions. He thanked the audience for their "warm welcome" adding it was "much appreciated" and then got down to the business of talking about the film.
The idea for Death Proof came, he says, from an encounter with a car salesman eleven years ago. He had owned a "dangerous car" but then opted for a safer one - "a Volvo - that's safe right? The salesman then suggested that to really make a car safe, you could turn it over to a stuntman who could reinforce it. He actually came up with the term Death Proof. I'd never thought of it before but the idea just stayed with me".
The film, which opens nationwide on 21 September, has an additional half hour from the original cut made for Grindhouse which Tarantino embarked on with fellow director Robert Roderiguez. The audience asked whether he was disappointed Grindhouse wasn't being released in the UK. "Yes, really disappointed". He admitted the film was a big failure in America, and he didn't fight to have it released as Grindhouse in the UK, but adds, the version shown here better reflects the narrative strategies and script.
Death Proof tells the story of eight women who take on Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) who uses his suped up car as a weapon. He says the strong female characters in the film - led by an impressive cast including Rosario Dawson and real-life stuntwoman Zoë Bell - aren't based on anyone he knows really, they just come from his imagination. "They develop in the script organically", he told the audience. He is, anyway, he added "more attracted to realistic women".
Bell, who was stunt double for Uma Thurman in Kill Bill and Lucy Lawless in Xena Warrior Princess is, Tarantino says "the greatest stunt woman in the world". In a stomach churning car chase, Bell clings to the bonnet of a car, while its being chased, and rammed by Kurt Russell's mean machine. "We were travelling at speeds upwards of 80, 90 even 100mph. In some shots I was filming from the front so you can imagine how fast we had to go. She did all her own stunts and she could have been killed. You know it's her, there's no double, you see her back and then she turns her head, and you're like, wow, it's Zoë".
In this, his first film as cinematographer, Tarantino explores some of the effects used to recreate a real seventies feel. "I had the techniques down before we started filming. I was in the lab and the guys are like, oh yeah, he can do that but he's not going to want that in the finished film. But I did and really love how it turned out".
Tarantino says that as a writer and director, he prefers to work on the films he's written himself. Although he loves Jackie Brown "like one of my children" it's not the same because "it didn't begin with that blank sheet of paper. With Pulp Fiction and Resevoir Dogs, I started with a blank sheet of paper and I filled it. He says by the time it got to editing, he had lost a little of the enthusiasm for Jackie Brown, so probably won't adapt another original text. Neither, he says, will you see him do a bio-pic anytime soon, or a superhero movie - "I'd want to create the superhero myself". He thinks Inglorious Bastards - a WWII epic - will be his next film, "but I need another twelve months on the script".
The director, who says the Oscar (Best Screenplay, Pulp Fiction, 1994) is "great" but only means he knows how they'll start his obituary - "Oscar-winning director Quentin Tarantino" - came to Liverpool because he wanted to test out a reaction to his new film in a city he'd never been to before.
of this interview have, or will, appear in other publications and in other