Danny Peary Talks To… ‘The Misogynists’ Writer-Director Onur Tukel

Danny Peary Talks To… ‘The Misogynists’ Writer-Director Onur Tukel

It is becoming an increasingly frequent ritual for me to champion one of the independent cinema’s most idiosyncratic, passionate, and hilarious filmmakers, Onur Tukel. Not only has the 45-year-old Turkish American writer, director and sometimes actor been prolific, but he also he has been punctual, churning out difficult films with shocking regularity: the slightly mad and very chatty philosophical comedy/drama Richard’s Wedding in 2012; the gruesome comic vampire film, Summer of Blood in 2014; the delightful black comedy Applesauce in 2016; and the wild and controversial futuristic satire/revenge tale, Catfight, in which Anne Heche and Sandra Oh engage in three knockdown, no-punches-pulled physical encounters, in early 2017. He has other projects ready for release, but the good news is that he was so incensed by Donald Trump’s victory last November that he has squeezed in another film in this calendar year, just in time for the Hamptons International Film Festival. The Misogynists.

This scathing, decadent satire that showcases an array of amusing characters, brilliant and daring performances, and sizzling dialogue may be his best film yet and even corral him a mainstream audience for the first time, despite some XXX-language. The synopsis from the press notes: Cameron (Dylan Baker) is a lonely businessman and Trump supporter who has recently separated from his wife of 35 years. Now living on his own in a hotel room, he celebrates Election Night with his sad-sack protégé Baxter (Jamie Block), who is experiencing marital woes of his own. As the night progresses, the two men find their beliefs, motivations and identities challenged. And since all Tukel’s films are about characters who are experiencing escalated downward spirals, with situations going from bad to abominable, be prepared to fasten your seat belts, as Margo Channing would say, because it’s going to be a bumpy night. Last week I had this conversation with Tukel about his new movie and the political views that inspired it, and as always he wasn’t at a loss for words. I was, as when I last interviewed Tukel, amazed how he can digress from a topic and go off on a seemingly unrelated tangent yet somehow circle back and tie in what he’s been saying to what we were first talking about. You’ll see! Like me, he is excited that The Misogynists has been chosen for this weekend’s film festival, and that he will no longer be a secret.

Onur Tukel

Onur Tukel. Photo: Danny Peary

Danny Peary: When we talked just prior to the release of Catfight, you told me you were soon going to make this film. Was it already written and ready to shoot?

Onur Tukel: When we talked in March of 2017, I think I was on the fifth or sixth draft of the script. I did nine drafts total.

DP: Did you start writing The Misogynists on election night?

OT: I started writing it the next day. I copyrighted the first draft of the script on November 17th, 2016, less than 10 days after the election, and then I spent seven months rewriting the movie before we shot it this spring.

DP: What was your frame of mind when Trump won? Did you know you’d have to make a movie about it?

OT: Well, I was shocked. And then, you know, I was angry. And I had the same smug reaction as a lot of liberals: “How could these idiots vote for Trump?” But then, my anger turned toward the liberals who didn’t go out and vote for Hillary Clinton. This is what fueled my writing. It became very therapeutic. I also found a defense mechanism to deal with the defeat. I thought back to how I felt when George W. Bush got re-elected in 2004. I was really devastated that night. And I kept thinking about how collectively insane the country was during that time, which I refer to as the “Decade of Defeat” in America. And when Trump won, I told myself, “Things may seem crazy now, but are they as crazy as they were then?”  The answer was “No.” I told myself, “Trump hasn’t started a war. And until he does, I’m going to give him a chance.” But EVERYTHING annoyed me after the election. I remember walking near Columbus Circle a few days later and there was a parade of protestors screeching some vapid platitudes through a megaphone.   It was shrill and annoying. In the wake of a contentious year, during which the election has oozed itself into every pore of the culture, we were right back where we started on November the 9th! For a while in my twenties, I trained to be a boxer. And I remember hitting that fucking punching bag, just unleashing my rage, it felt so good. And man, writing this script kind of felt the same way. I just unleashed my anger onto the page. It’s kept me relatively sane.

DP: From what I understood, the film was going to be about two Trump supporters in a hotel room on election night. But was it ever going to be just two characters?

OT: No, it was always designed with various characters venturing in and out of the room.

DP: Talk about the collection of people who populate your film.

OT: You have Cameron, a middle-aged man with a great salary. He’s been married for over 35 years but has recently separated from his wife. There’s Baxter, his obsequious protégé, who’s keeping him company on election night. Baxter’s wife, Alice, is at home, trying her best not to lose her mind at the thought of Donald Trump being President—she thinks the sky is falling. An ex-colleague at work, Grant, stops by to imbibe with Cameron and Baxter. He and Alice are the liberal voices of the film. There’s Francis and Don, an interracial couple staying in the hotel room next door, annoyed that Cameron is making too much noise for them to sleep. There’s Miguel, the Mexican who delivers room service and is surprisingly indifferent about the election results. And the sex workers, Sasha and Amber, who have their own mini-adventure before meeting Baxter and Cameron, including getting into an existential argument with a Muslim cab driver. The movie is very much about how divisive the year 2016 was. I think that’s one of the reasons election night was so traumatizing for some. It was an exhausting year. Many people were just ready for the vitriol to end. Trump’s election was devastating because he was so contentious. We all just wanted to stop hearing about him. Anti-anxiety medication sales must be through the roof. Luckily for me, writing is therapy. So, I was able to purge a lot of my frustrations through the script. The great thing about a hotel room set is that I got to focus more on philosophy and less on story.

DP: I kind of pictured you making this film with you and someone noone ever heard of as the leads. When did Dylan Baker come into the picture—and though he played a small part in Catfight, were you startled that he would agree to play the lead without your making his character, Cameron, less vulgar?

OT: I had planned on casting an unknown as Cameron but that didn’t work out. He got cold feet and dropped out of the production. So we pushed production back two weeks and I offered Dylan the role, thinking he wouldn’t want to do it. But he read it and embraced every word. He learned all of his lines in about a week. It’s hard to believe. I could tell you that we workshopped the script like a play, then we spent six months in rehearsals and explored and analyzed every syllable. It certainly feels like we spent that kind of time on it but it’s just not the case. The production came together very quickly.   Dylan dived into this character with an energy that was so inspiring. He’s so funny and warm, and his character is so cynical and at times, disgusting; and he also had to sympathize with his character, who is in great pain. But this is what great actors do. They embrace characters that are so different from their personalities. Dylan’s performance is as devastating as it is electrifying and we were all in awe watching him work.

DP: The dialogue is so sharp that I would guess you sat down at the computer and it just poured out of your mind as you typed. Right or wrong?

OT: I’ve always been really self-deprecating. I love myself. I hate myself. One day, I beat myself up for being a talented hack. Another day, I’m bragging to my girlfriend about what a genius I am. Self-importance is really destructive, so it’s nice to have a self-aware, pseudo-irony to the whole thing. Art is important. But anyone can do it. And it’s also fleeting and inconsequential. And if you do it when you’re anxious or angry, like I do, it can be very therapeutic. So, yes, this thing poured out of me very quickly. Most of my first drafts are written quickly but this one came even faster because I wasn’t so focused on story. It was more about a feeling. What was the general mood of the country that night? It was like a bomb going off! People were shocked. People compared it to 9/11.   And culturally the climate hasn’t changed much.   Uncertainty is everywhere. Uneasiness. Anxiety. But, you know, that’s the American way. A culture of capitalism demands an anxious populace, so it can be easily exploited. At least, that’s how I see it. The hospitals want you to think you’re sick. The news channels want you to think everyone’s going to drown in the hurricane. We live in a diseased culture. Binge-watching is the new cure-all for all the dread. We’re living in Brave New World. I’m looking forward to working on the next script. Every day, there’s something new to be angry or anxious about.   It’s a great time to be a filmmaker. There’s so much to say about this overwhelming nothingness. That said, I rewrote the fuck out of the initial script for The Misogynists. As I said, nine drafts in seven months. Again, therapy.

DP: Talk about the title. By calling your film The Misogynists, you are highlighting one aspect of a great many Trump voters, but pushing into the background equally bad ones, some political.

Trump supporters Cameron (Dylan Baker) and Baxter (Jamie Block) celebrate the macho new president.

Trump supporters Cameron (Dylan Baker) and Baxter (Jamie Block) celebrate the macho new president.

OT: Well, the title isn’t just reserved for misogynistic Trump voters. It also fits the mother who tells her daughter she can’t be president. It’s also for the sex worker who complains of sexism while selling her body to the highest bidder.   And look, who was more of a misogynist–George W. Bush or Bill Clinton?   Locker room talk works both ways. And I have been part of many conversations between men that are insanely misogynistic. In college, if one of my friends had sex with a woman, I wanted to hear all the details. Is this worse than shooting a porno film? Is it worse than grabbing a woman without her permission? Of course not. It’s a conversation. It’s freedom of speech. There are terrible people who voted for Trump and terrible people who voted for Hillary and terrible people who didn’t vote at all. I don’t think a majority of voters picked Trump because they hated women. They just hated Hillary, and it’s unfortunate because she was clearly more qualified for the job. But I had a feeling Trump was going to win after hearing the final question of the second debate. He sounded like a human being instead of a politician. I think there’s a way to reach Trump if liberals would just show him a little compassion. He’s all alone and he’s terrified. If you coddle his ego, he can be manipulated. If everybody on Twitter just sent him a nice tweet, instead of a hateful one, he would glow. If you launch a nuclear bomb, he’s going to launch one back. Maybe win him over with love. Now, I’m methodically adopting this attitude for a couple of reasons. I have to have compassion for my main character. He’s my creation, I have to stand up for him.   But he’s also incredibly negative and I have to be better than he is. So as I talk about this movie on the festival circuit, I want to shy away from negativity, which means NOT criticizing Trump or his supporters. Look around at what we’ve become. Trump says something hateful and it’s like firing a cannon on a snowy mountaintop. An avalanche of hateful tweets comes from the left. This causes Trump to load another cannonball. Back and forth. Back and forth. I’ve made the decision to empathize with those I disagree with. I want to find some common ground with those I disagree with. It actually takes a lot of bravery to do that.

DP: Obviously, Cameron is a blatant misogynist but—and you just mentioned a few candidates–what other character qualifies so that the word is plural in the title? Baxter is afraid of women but I can’t tell if he despises them.

OT: Again, The Misogynists could be Cameron, Baxter, the sex workers, the mother, even the outspoken liberal who defends Hillary yet voted for Bernie. We’re all misogynists because we participate in a consumer culture that sexualizes and exploits women.   We’re all misogynists because we watch mass media news channels that NEVER feature thoughtful authors like Naomi Klein or Christopher Hedges. The network news stations never encourage reading. NEVER! They never encourage consumers to be independent thinkers. Most everything on television is geared toward making you feel ugly or fat or unworthy or broken. And by the end of this movie, when the language is at its most vulgar, you can argue that our male characters still, AREN’T misogynists. They are merely describing what they’re going to do to the sex workers. How is this misogynistic? If being a sex worker is form of feminism, then being a literal sex object is a feminist act. Language is just another form of sex play. When men talk about “fucking prostitutes,” I would argue that the words can’t be misogynistic. These words have no power. The body as “sex object,” contradicts this notion that misogyny can exist in language. It can’t. Not in the context of the movie. I’m looking forward to the festivals Q&As with this movie. I’m think there are going to be some very interesting discussions.

DP: Cameron says two reasons for Trump’s victory were that people think he will bring stability (in a bad way) to America and that he recognized people are tribal. Almost a year after election night, could you list many more reasons?

OT: I think Donald Trump’s behavior is moving conservatives to the left.   On the other side, I think PC culture and safe spaces are moving liberals to the right. Maybe I’m old, maybe too set in my ways, but harsh language doesn’t offend me. And the idea of forcing people to be “less offensive” is nauseating to me.   I don’t like being told what to say. And having freedom of speech is hands down the greatest right we have as Americans. And this works both ways. If Donald Trump wants to call someone a “son-of-a-bitch,” well, it doesn’t bother me. Is it racist? It could be? Is he racist? Sure, he could be. But you know what? Son-of-a-bitch” ain’t the N-word, no matter how you slice it. You can rationalize anything you want. We live in nation of bullshit and faux outrage. I think about Turkey, where journalists and professors are locked up for criticizing their politicians. Now, they have something to complain about. But they can’t! Lebron James can call Trump a bum in America and that’s a beautiful thing. Trump has every right to fire back. Is it sad? Yes, it is. Donald Trump’s behavior isn’t appropriate for a President. He’s acting like a petulant child. And you know what, so are the masses. We live in a diseased culture.   And the American empire is on its last legs, just as Morris Berman predicted.

DP: At first I assumed Cameron was thrilled with Trump’s victories because of his vicious policies but after he exclaims how he and others are free to not be PC anymore, I started to see a larger reason. Do you think he’s so pleased with the election because he despises people and thinks they are getting the monster they deserve?

OT: It’s all there in his dialogue. Cameron is a believer in Darwinism. That’s why he proudly owns a gun. He doesn’t see the value of compassion in a world of anarchy. He believes there will be chaos in the streets very soon. People will be looting supermarkets. The one with the gun gets the loaf of bread. When he talks briefly about Vietnam, he’s pointing out a bleak time in American history. A Democrat got us into the war. Republicans kept us there. This is the world we live in. When he talks about the American Indian, it’s as if they don’t even exist. They’ve been literally wiped off the map.   He’s a realist. America was built on principles of absolute selfishness. Having a leader like Donald Trump was inevitable, because he is the product of a diseased culture. Every man for himself. Might makes right. It’s the American way. We are not a nation of Christians, despite what people claim. Jesus wouldn’t have wiped out the Indians. Jesus wouldn’t be on twitter saying hurtful things. Jesus would have compassion for Trump. He would match his hate with love.

DP: I was reminded of Platoon, in which Charlie Sheen is pulled in one direction by the moral Willem Dafoe and the other by macho Tom Berenger in a fight for his soul. Here Baxter feels safer with Cameron than at home with his very moral, politically liberal wife, Alice. Is that how you see it?

OT: I like that comparison. I think there’s a nobility to being in the middle, trying to hear out and understand both sides. Obama was like that. Bill Clinton was like that. But there’s a cowardice there, too, because you’re not really taking a stand. You know, Baxter is actually responsible. He has a family, he takes care of them. He wants to do the right thing, to put his family first, but he’s also tempted to be selfish. But there’s the contradiction. Putting your family first IS a form of selfishness. The family becomes an extension of you.

DP: Is it Baxter’s weakness that makes him want to hang out with Cameron?

OT: He hangs out with Cameron for several reasons. He wants to please his boss and he wants to avoid his wife. Hanging out with “the boys” is a beautiful thing. I’m a stubborn, out-spoken, flawed, often out-of-touch and sometimes self-aware human being. I like drinking with men. Locker room talk IS a real thing. And if you have a sense of humor about it, it’s harmless. There’s a childish superiority to it. AS Cameron says, “Women do it, too. They have their book clubs, their “Margarita Wednesdays.” The world is governed by secret meetings and clandestine conversations. Those who speak in secret aren’t evil. It’s the spies who are evil.

DP: And is it Baxter’s weakness that makes Cameron want to hang out with him?

OT: Cameron’s just lonely and afraid. If it’s not Baxter, it’s Grant. If it’s not Grant, it’s Sasha. When Miguel delivers the food, he’s quick to invite him to have a drink, some blow, a slice of pizza. Cameron, in a lot of ways, is a man of the people.

DP: Did you choose the name Baxter for the harmless but ineffectual character because it fits the definition of a Baxter?

OT: Hmmm, you know what? I never thought about that. Didn’t Michael Showalter direct and star in a movie called The Baxter? I don’t even know what that word means. What’s a Baxter? I’ll look it up. I did write the role for the musician Jamie Block, who does a brilliant job in this. And I guess he just looks liked a Baxter to me.

DP: One of Cameron’s verbal targets is Hollywood. I know you hate Hollywood elitism and phoniness so was he speaking words you might say?

OT: Hollywood is NOT a liberal place. It’s conservative. I could launch into a long-winded monologue about how I really feel about the Hollywood one-percenters and celebrities and the creative choices they make, but my publicist would never approve. Still, if I had a chance to direct a bloated, 50-million dollar film, I’d leap at the chance. If I could afford a mansion in the Hollywood Hills, I’d probably buy one. But being ignored, broke, and angry keeps me prolific.

DP: In the great Joseph McCarthy-era western, Johnny Guitar, every character represents something politically. What about in this film? Is Cameron meant to be Trump-like and that hotel room is like the Oval Office, with an array of people coming and going?

OT: It could be. Cameron, like Trump, is very isolated. He wants Trump to build a wall around America. He doesn’t want Syrian refugees in the country. He looks down at the streets from his hotel room and imagines chaos and anarchy. He’s totally paranoid. In a lot of ways, he’s a prisoner. He talks about freedom but he’s not free at all. By the end, you see who he really is. He’s afraid. He’s lonely. He’s a small child. All his bombast was just an act. Outside the hotel room is the rest of America, terrified at what he might do next. I’m over-explaining things, which is supposedly a big no-no for a director. “Never explain.” But that’s also the point of the movie. Who’s to say what you should and shouldn’t do as a director. I can do whatever I want. It’s my movie. And Cameron says something similar early in the film. “I can say what I want, I can do what I want,” as he bounces up and down on the bed like a child. We’ve put a child in the Oval House. But outside of the Oval Office, the behavior is just as obnoxious.

DP: Cameron may be a 100% jerk but I don’t think any of your characters are without flaws, except perhaps the hotel manager who is in just one scene. In my opinion the worst person of all is the cheeriest and perhaps the most likable, the room service worker, Miguel, who brings Cameron and Baxter food and stays to snort lines of cocaine. He is of Mexican heritage and thinks having a female president would be cool but like many students didn’t bother to vote. And he’s on academic scholarship!

OT: One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Miguel, Cameron and Baxter do a shot of tequila. Cameron has just made a speech about white people being superior to blacks, Jews, Asians, Mexicans and Arabs. He goes on to talk about tribalism and the societal acceptance of genocide. My co-editor Martin, who was assembling the footage during the shoot, hadn’t cracked a smile for the first five days of production. When he started synching Miguel’s footage, it was the first time I saw him laugh. He said the subject matter was so insanely dark that he couldn’t help but laugh at it.   When I wrote this, I was really reaching for the darkest shit I could find. It actually reminded me of the paintings I created for a movie called Septien, several years ago. I occasionally act in indie films and I play a disturbed painter in that movie. I really am an artist, and the director, Michael Tully, wanted me to paint the most deranged things I could think of. It was very easy for me, almost cathartic.   And writing for Cameron was cathartic as well. With Miguel, I wanted to resist making him obvious, which would have meant having him be anti-Trump and anti-wall and pro-immigration.   Instead, I just made him aloof, and that seemed to be the right way to go. I think a lot of people have Miguel’s attitude, which is why they didn’t vote.

Sex workers Sasha (Ivana Milecevik) and Amber (Trieste Kelly Dunn) discuss Trump's victory and going to see Cameron and Baxter

Sex workers Sasha (Ivana Milecevik) and Amber (Trieste Kelly Dunn) discuss Trump’s victory and going to see Cameron and Baxter

DP: I picture a Netflix series with Sasha and Amber! Great characters, a comedy team. It’s interesting that you introduce them late in the film and then give them so much time, breaking conventions. Did you write their scenes together, before they come to the hotel, as you wrote the script chronologically, or at the end?

OT: I’d love to do a movie with these characters every year. We could see how their opinions change with each year that Trump is in office. Regarding these two sex workers, I was having a lot of trouble with the first three or four drafts of the script. It wasn’t until I decided to give Amber and Sasha their own act outside of the hotel room that everything really clicked for me. In the initial drafts, Sasha and Amber show up at the hotel room and the four characters continue talking politics. We never see Sasha and Amber on their own. We discover that Sasha comes from a rich family in Serbia and hates Bill Clinton and thus, hates Hillary and blah-blah-blah–it was more of the same stuff that we get in the first act. I had a reading with the initial cast and I realized that the third act needed to be less about politics and more about Baxter betraying his wife. By the fifth draft, I found that I had a really interesting structure for the script. Act one is Cameron and Baxter in the hotel room, drinking and talking politics. Act two is Amber and Sasha on their way to the hotel room, talking about sex work and their own role in creating Trump. Act three is broken up into two parts—Cameron, Baxter, Amber, and Sasha partying together; and Cameron all alone, hitting rock bottom. I always wanted the movie to feel bigger than a hotel room with energetic performances and the multiple characters venturing in and out of the room. Zoe White’s cinematography really opens it up.   But this diversion with Sasha and Amber is a bold structural move. It feels innovative. By the end, there are probably ten locations throughout the movie–the hotel room, the hallways, the elevator, the lobby, the bar, the rooftop and the various streets of New York. But when Amber and Sasha enter the picture, I think it’s really going to throw audiences for a loop. Suddenly, the point-of-view changes and it’s like we’re in a completely different movie.

DP: Trieste Kelly Dunn, who is terrific as Amber, has played a lead for you before. Did she have to explain to Ivana Milecevik, who had just a minor, straight part in Catfight, or anyone else about how you work and that a bit of insane humor is to be expected?

OT: I worked with Trieste on Applesauce so we get each other. We’ve both got connections in North Carolina, so our senses of humor are very similar. I met her one day in a Laundromat in Greenpoint and I fell in love with her instantly. She’s one of my favorite people and she might be my favorite actor working today. She’s the perfect mix of sophisticated and goofy. Trieste and Ivana are good friends. They worked on a popular TV show called Banshee for four years or so, so they were excited about reuniting on screen. They have such incredible chemistry in this. Ivana has an incredible sense of humor, too, and they’re really funny without ever winking at the camera.   I hope I get to make many movies with these two. They’re so brilliant.

DP: How much of this film is about hypocrisy?

OT: You could fan out the pages of the script like a deck of cards and say, “Pick a page, any page” and you’d find hypocrisy. Cameron brags about Trump being a truthful President yet admits that he’s lied his ass off.   You’ve got the self-righteous African American who stands up to Cameron but calls him racial epithets behind his back. You’ve got the liberal blowhard who defends Hillary yet voted for Jill Stein. There’s the sex workers who talk about female empowerment as they head to a hotel room to satisfy the libidos of a couple of rich men. A Muslim cab driver tries to lecture Amber and Sasha on how to behave while forcing his wife to cover her head. Baxter talks of being responsible while doing coke with his boss in a hotel room. Then there are the contradictions of language in the movie. We all want to be free. We all celebrate our freedom of speech. But the left tries to police what we can and cannot say.   A lot of Cameron’s vitriol is a reaction to PC culture. That’s one of the reasons he adores Trump. Trump has no problem hurting feelings. He says what he wants.

DP: When we see all the pain Cameron keeps inside because his wife Julia rejected him, do you want us viewers to feel empathy?

OT: When Cameron delivers the monologue about the last time he and his wife made love, it’s supposed to give us a glimpse of his humanity. I don’t think it’s enough to make us feel empathy toward him, but it would be nice if that were the case. No one has a lot of compassion for Trump at the moment and it’s really unfortunate.   I’m trying to open my heart to the guy. He’s a human being and like it or not, he’s our President. And any liberal who claims he’s “Not my president” needs to check themselves. That’s a fucking smug attitude. He most certainly is our President. We own him. And it’s our responsibility to make sure he doesn’t do anything catastrophic. I can tell you this much, barraging him with hateful insults on Twitter isn’t noble or patriotic. It’s the equivalent of bullying an outcast at school. Sooner or later, that outcast is going to get fed up and go on a killing spree.

DP: Where did you get the idea of the TV in the hotel room turning itself on and running backwards?

OT: That wasn’t in the original script but when we found the hotel room and Estee Braverman, the production designer, started transforming the space, I knew that something would have to be playing on the TV. I didn’t want to see this big black rectangle in the middle of our shots. Philosophically, the idea was a no-brainer. I’m sick of screens. They’re everywhere and they’ve taken over our lives. So the idea of a sentient television screen that pops on and off on its own, distracting the characters, mesmerizing the characters, felt like the right thing to do. It’s another example of the diseased culture we live in. Everyone’s complaining about how horrible Trump is. Everyone’s screaming about the environment and human rights. But they’re not so upset that they can’t binge-watch twenty hours of television a week. Most moral outrage is reactionary and insincere.

DP: You tend to get nervous about audience reactions to your films since they tend to go over all kinds of boundaries. Did you feel with this film that everything was falling into place and that the shoot was easier than expected?

OT: The shoot wasn’t easy because we shot at night, from 6pm to 6am. And the budget and schedule were super tight. But everything fell into place because I was surrounded by an amazing cast and crew.   Because the subject matter is so closely connected to what’s happening in the world, it feels strangely ahead-of-its-time. This might be the kind of movie you see made years after Trump leaves office. That’s why I’m excited about getting it out there early.

DP: Talk about working with Dylan Baker, especially your early conversations. Were you thrilled that he was willing to be as brave as you?

OT: Dylan Baker starred in Happiness. If you’ve seen it and his performance, you’ll know that he’s one of the bravest actors working today. But he’s also one of the most underrated. And he owns this movie! He’s on fire from the first frame to the last. He made everyone better. He inspired all of us. His performance has nothing to do with bravery, its artistry. This is the kind of performance you expect from a great actor.

DP: So you got a prestigious Broadway veteran to be in your film. And The Misogynists will be playing at the prestigious Hamptons International Film Festival. As a “madman of the cinema,” are you shocked and delighted that it has come to this?

OT: I’ve been making indie movies for 20 years now. I moved to New York on Halloween in 2010. I never dreamed I’d be making New York films with the elite of New York, yet here I am, seven years later, and this is the best thing I’ve ever made. Delighted? No question. Shocked? No. This is the kind of movie that is supposed to play at great film festivals. It’s brave and beautifully made. And Dylan Baker’s performance is a tour de force. The rest of the cast and crew are artists. I’m really proud of what we’ve made.

Danny Peary has published 25 books on film and sports, including Cult Movies and Jackie Robinson in Quotes.

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