Hopefully I can take what I did in Darko, and its been several years now and Ive matured, and try to take my ability to the next level, really. I guess it comes more out of my fondness for Quentins work and me just trying to be like him (laughing). I could also say that its my Brazil. I could say that its my Dr. Strangelove. But listen, if I could ever make a film thats even anywhere near as great as any of those films, I would be a lucky guy. Those are the three biggest influences on Southland Tales: Pulp Fiction, Brazil, and Dr. Strangelove. Its a tall order and its pretty ambitious. I could fail miserably and end up with Ishtar (laughing).
You made a lot of compromises when you did the original cut of Donnie Darko. Did Newmarket give you free reign to make the movie you wanted to this time around?
Newmarket basically gave me a specific budget.
Was it what you wanted?
Yeah. Youll never get enough money to make any movie. Youll never have enough time and youll never have enough money. But you need to be grateful that you have any money at all and just deal with the amount that youre given. Kelly Carlton, our visual effects supervisor, Sam Bauer, our editor, and David Esparza, our sound designer, all three of those guys (who are all good friends of mine) were able to come in and we were able to really get in there and do the work on the film that we needed to do in a very short window of time, and with the limited amount of money that we had. Im definitely very happy with what we were able to accomplish.
For me, its not about coming in and fixing what isnt broken. Its more about expanding. There were definitely some plot holes and some characters arcs that werent fulfilled, I think, in the theatrical cut. I think weve been able to go in and sort of complete those arcs and also fill the plot holes with a lot of information that was there and tied into the plot. There were also blueprints for things that I wanted to put in the film that got put off to the side when we realized that we had a two-hour running time restriction and we didnt have enough money when we were finishing the theatrical cut. It really let me go in and complete the story in more detail. Its like I said, this by no means nullifies the theatrical cut of the film because I am very proud of the film. I think theres sort of two versions of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, theres two or maybe three versions of Bladerunner. Theres more than one version ultimately, I guess, of Kill Bill. Brazil had its extended cut. I feel very honored to have been given the opportunity to do this with my film. It could be that some people will always prefer the theatrical cut and thats a valid opinion to have. Its not like the theatrical cut will be thrown into a shredder. Its not like the negatives are going to be shredded and put in a dumpster after this. But its like Im glad to have gotten the opportunity to assemble a longer and more complete version of the film. Well see what people will think.
Jena Malone believes this version of Donnie Darko might be similar to when you originally cut the film.
By no means is it the Sundance cut. This is something far beyond the Sundance cut. Certainly youre going to see some of the scenes that were on the DVD as deleted scenes. Youre definitely going to see some of those back in the cut, but there are also some scenes that I purposely left off the DVD. Theres also some new material that no one has seen before, in terms of some of the visual effects sequences in the film. I think what youre also seeing is a lot of the elements, some of which appear on the website in the information within the pages of The Philosophy of Time Travel, along with some of the deleted scenes and the new visual effects sequences, that all organically tie the story together in a way that I believe is more elegant and more fluid and, I hope, more satisfying to audiences. The Directors Cut sort of emerges as this science fiction epic, in a way, that was made on a very small, independent budget.