Harmony Korine discussing Spring Breakers on Film Society's Daily Buzz with Eugene Hernandez. Photo: Lansia Wann
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"I want to create in the way I want to create. I want to move as fast as I can think."
Harmony Korine was discussing Spring Breakers with Eugene Hernandez on Film Society's Daily Buzz podcast from SXSW, and the topic had turned to film school. Korine attended NYU for dramatic writing, as opposed to filmmaking, before leaving to write Kids with Larry Clark. He explained the choice to study writing as a necessity.
"I was making films already and I had a decent understanding of the technical side," he explained. "All I ever wanted to do was write my own films. I didn't want to ever be in a place where I was dependent on other people doing anything for me, and I'm still that way... I never want to be stranded."
This fierce independence is evident across Korine's work, from his audacious directorial debut Gummo (1997) to his new film, which boasts the oddball cast of James Franco, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and Gucci Mane. When asked how he's managed to maintain this level of freedom, Korinne again emphasized that there was no other option.
"I just don't care," he said. "I make movies because that's the only thing I ever wanted to do… I can't be stopped. [Laughs] I do what I have to do. I've only ever had one vision and it's to make films in this way. Nothing else really matters much."
On the topic of Spring Breakers, Korine was quick to point out that he didn't intend it as an exposé of spring break culture, or even about it at all. Instead, he described it as a "backdrop for this more criminal, menacing element." That element is embodied by James Franco's Alien, a Florida drug dealer complete with cornrows, a blinged-out grille, and coopted black slang.
"At the same time I didn't want him to be just that," Korine elaborated. "I wanted him to have some type of strange inner poetry and some bizarre, sociopathic… some kind of crazy menace, this weird energy floating around."
Korine explained the impetus for the film as coming from photos of teen debauchery he had been collecting for an art project, "everything from co-ed pornography to fraternity imagery." When he looked at them all together, he became intrigued.
"Subject-wise, they were really sexual, overtly sexual and violent and base, and then all these details around them were very childlike: the nail polish, the Hello Kitty bags, the Mountain Dew bottles. It was kind of like this strange language. I liked it."
When asked what he drew inspiration from in general, Korine's reply was immediate:: "criminals." Which begged the question, does he consider himself and his filmmaking criminal? Again, the answer came quickly: "definitely."
Hear more from Harmony Korine, plus interviews with the filmmakers behind Hey Bartender, We Always Lie to Strangers, Go for Sisters, and another Hot Topics roundtable in our fourth podcast from South by Southwest.
Joe Leydon, Variety
Scott Macaulay, Filmmaker Magazine
Karen Reilly, Tor Project
Matt Wallaert, Bing
Hey Bartender (Douglas Tirola)
We Always Lie to Strangers (AJ Schnack & David Wilson)
Go for Sisters (John Sayles & actor Edward James Olmos)
Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine)