No, writer-director Susan Skoog didn't title her micro-budget debut "Whatever" just to get in this column. But we couldn't pass up on this bit of synchronicity. Fortunately, Skoog, 33, made it worthwhile with her girl's coming-of-age story set in 1981 in the filmmaker's native New Jersey. The edgy, colorful film also impressed the folks at Sony Classic Pictures, who are releasing it Friday.
HIGH FINANCE: "We got the movie shot for $115,000 in cash. I had 12 credit cards and had about $30,000 on those, made money with editing jobs, got a little from family and friends. And we were lucky--got finishing funds from Circle Films within weeks of shooting and could pay off the credit cards."
FOR THE RECORD
Los Angeles Times Sunday July 19, 1998 Home Edition Calendar Page 87 Calendar Desk 1 inches; 15 words Type of Material: Correction
An incorrect photo ran with the Whatever column July 12, featuring writer-director Susan Skoog, right.
RAISON D'INDIE: "Some [indie filmmakers] do it as a method for getting into Hollywood, others because they have independent visions that would never get made otherwise. Hal Hartley couldn't get a movie made elsewhere. Brad Anderson could if he wanted."
CIRCLE GAME: "Circle Films is the people who started the Coen brothers, which is incredible. First thing they said was, 'Susan has complete control.' It's a big honor to be near these people, listening to stories about how they got the money so Coppola could finish 'Apocalypse Now.' "
HELLO, HOLLYWOOD: "I've met a lot of really good people in Hollywood lately, especially the ones who liked my movie! Midge Sanford, who produced 'How to Make an American Quilt' with her partner, Sarah Pillsbury. And met with Miramax four times, and Searchlight. It's been very flattering. Just wish they were showing me better scripts."
ONE THAT GOT AWAY: "I read a script called 'All She Wanted,' the story of Teena Brandon, a girl who posed as a boy and ended getting butchered by these rednecks. True story. I would have loved to have gotten that. Searchlight is making it, but they already hired someone."
DREAM PROJECT: "HBO is planning a series based on songs from [Bruce Springsteen's] 'The Ghost of Tom Joad' album. I'm dying to do one of those, but I don't know if I'm big enough. I sent a copy [of "Whatever"] to his manager the other day--'I humbly submit this.' "
VERY GOOD YEAR: "That time [in "Whatever"] was this window between the '70s and '80s, when Reagan got going and consumerism and AIDS and 'Just say no.' Now it's all over the place. Something fun about going back to another era, especially one's own."