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That abuse extended to several hyper-realistic street-fighting scenes — one of the myriad ways in which the movie’s characters release their pent-up aggression — for which Fuller and other members of the cast hurled themselves into the fray with professional fighters cast from the world of Mixed Martial Arts. “People have been punching each other in the face since the dawn of time, and something we always wanted to do was portray that realistically,” Fuller says. “So it seemed silly to represent that in a film and be afraid of getting hit in the face a little bit. There’s a lot about traditional filmmaking and simulating things that isn’t all that necessary; it’s just about how devoted you are to your work. I’m not saying, ‘Somebody’s getting shot, so shoot ’em for real,’ ” he adds with a chuckle, “though the thought crossed my mind.”
The goal, Fuller says, was “to kind of get inside the head or the heart or the soul of these kinds of kids at this particular place and time — youth and sort of being born into fire, so to speak. I mean, it’s a unique time and experience — mentally, emotionally, physically — and kind of horrifying on a lot of levels, too. I was just watching a documentary about Coppola and Apocalypse Now, and he’s, like, ‘This movie’s not about Vietnam — it is Vietnam.’ And that’s kind of how I feel about Loren: It’s not about adolescence — it is adolescence.”
On the subject of his own coming of age, Fuller is more reticent, telling me his father is a local St. Pete attorney but that, “for the interview, [say] I was actually raised by wolves, in the swamps.” He cautions against reading Loren Cass as autobiographical, while adding, “Obviously, art should have a pretty deep relationship to the artist. At its core, there’s a lot about [Loren Cass] that’s pretty personal.”
And though he shies away from citing his cinematic influences — “It’s hard to see something you like or appreciate without it influencing you, so I kind of got to the point where, ideally, I don’t think I should ever watch a movie ever again,” he says — Fuller does mention such unlikely bedfellows as Jack Kerouac (whose home on St. Pete’s 10th Avenue North provides one of the film’s locations) and Arthur Schopenhauer as being among Loren Cass’ literary patron saints.
Now, with his new representation at CAA, Fuller is busy readying his next project — make that two projects, one from an original script and the other an adaptation of a novel his agents are acquiring. Neither film would be shot in Florida, but that doesn’t mean Fuller will be packing his bags for the West Coast any time soon. “Then you’re socializing with the same people, you’re in the same environment, going to the same places, doing that whole Hollywood business thing,” he says. “I don’t know: How does that not sap some of your originality? I understand I’m going to have to travel a lot and be in L.A. and New York a lot, which is all well and good. But I think it’s important to stay here, or wherever I want to be, and keep myself in reality.”
Loren Cass opens on Friday, September 11, at Laemmle’s Sunset 5. See new reviews.
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