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Faces of the Festival: Jordan Horowitz and Gary Gilbert

Meet the producers of Meet Monica Velour, starring Kim Cattrall in a surprisingly raw role. It's a little bit comedy, a little bit aging 80s porn star.

Meet Monica Velour Tell us a little bit about Meet Monica Velour.


Jordan Horowitz: Meet Monica Velour is the story of a 17-year-old boy named Tobe [Dustin Ingram] who lives with his grandfather. He's kind of an off-center kid, quirky, who just graduated from high school. He doesn't really have much direction in his life, and isn't going to college. Kind of obsessed with things old and strange—music, cars, and old pornography. He is particularly obsessed with this woman, Monica Velour [Kim Cattrall], who is a big porn star from the late '70s, early '80s. He finds out that she is dancing at a club in the middle of the country, and so he hops into his grandfather's vintage hot dog truck and travels across the country to find her, expecting this fantasy woman that he's always sort of held in his mind's eye. Instead he is confronted with reality, and she is a 49-year-old woman living in a trailer park.


Gary Gilbert: A 49-year-old ex-porn star living in a trailer park, and in a custody battle for her daughter. And it's quite different than what [he expected].


JH: Reality intervenes. Exactly. But the story is ultimately about the relationship that blossoms between the two of them, between this older woman and this sort of off-center 19-year-old fan-boy.


GG: And it's interesting, because it's great to see Kim [Cattrall] in a different light... There's no glamour here. It's a 49 year-old ex-porn star living out of a trailer park. It couldn't be more the antithesis of Samantha from Sex and the City. What inspired you to get involved with this project? Did the writer/director Keith Bearden come to you?


GG: Yeah, an old friend of ours, Arianna Bocco, at the time was at Gersh [Agency] and she actually repped Keith, who had a short that he did called The Raftman's Razor... that got some buzz in 2003 in Sundance. She was the one that sent us a few scripts.


JH: She sent us a screener, and they were originally going out with one script that we didn't really respond to, but we really loved his short. And so we met him and talked about the script that he was sending out and what we liked about it, what we didn't. He said, “You know, I've got a couple other scripts,” so I sort of pushed on him to send us a couple other projects, which we then read. We really liked this one project, which at the time was called Miss January. We since changed the name to Meet Monica Velour.


GG: The only reason we switched it from Miss January is because Miss March came out.


JH: Miss March was a fan-boy comedy, really, and our film is very different... He brought that script to us, and at the heart of it was this relationship between this 49-year-old woman and this 19-year-old boy.


GG: We developed the script for three years... [There were] probably a half dozen, eight, maybe ten drafts. So you guys were producing partners already?


JH: Gary and I also did Garden State, and a number of other films. I've been there. I've been working with Gary for six years, but this was our first thing that we actually produced together.


GG: He started off as my assistant... He was 22 years old with a mohawk.


JH: I was 23. But yes, I had a line shaved in my head. I was producing photo shoots, and I got my hair cut by someone there. So you went through all these drafts, and then you got to a place that you were happy with?


GG: It was a combination of, finally after three years, getting to the point where we had a script that we were all happy with. And we felt like we were ready to roll. Kim was all lined up. She was attached. We also had Brian Dennehy as the grandfather. He was our first choice. But this all happened at the same time that Michigan passed the most aggressive tax credit incentive in the country, up to 42 percent. And I'm from Michigan. Actually, my entire family is still in Michigan, so it made things very, very easy to prep the movie. We ended up prepping the movie in about 5, 6 weeks or so. That was the toughest challenge, prepping so quickly, but it made it easier, being from Detroit and having family there. It was really a combination of being able to take advantage of this incredible, aggressive incentive given by the state of Michigan and having everything else all ready to roll. So what's the craziest thing that happened while making this film? Like a "lightning strikes" moment that you could share, good or bad, or an obstacle that you came though.


JH: I know what it is for me. I got married the first week of production... I had to leave the day after we started shooting for a week. So we prepped the film, started, then I left, got married, and then came back. I mean, I knew that was going to happen, but...


GG: The craziest thing that happened, happened afterward. As I told you, all my family and oldest friends are still in Michigan. I have a friend of mine that was storing the wiener bus. He has a business with a big parking lot, and he had it all covered in a tarp. And then at one point he had to move it, because he was moving his office. Literally, the hot dog came flying off on the freeway. What is the biggest thing that you learned while making this film? You've made other films, but was there some lesson to be taken from Meet Monica Velour?


JH: This is the first time I've produced, so everything for me. It was interesting working with a first-time filmmaker and being a first-time producer. So just really understanding the needs and balancing the needs of production with the needs of creative. For me, every day was learning. You know, this was your fourth film [to Gary].


GG: You learn so much from every film... Which is, for me, components and millions of pieces that make up the whole process. So, does any one in particular stick out? No, but I could give a list of probably 500. Can you talk about the casting a bit?


GG: Well, Tobe was very, very difficult. We saw a lot of, probably 50 or 60 people... That read for Tobe. As soon as we saw Dustin [Ingram], we all just kind of knew it's him. This is it.


JH: I think we all saw him independently, because we were looking at a lot of people online... Kim, you know, when we first started going out she was on many lists, and we really liked her for it. We weren't sure she would want to do something like this, and obviously the requirement was to stretch oneself. So there were a number of names, and Kim really responded to the material and really wanted to sit down with Keith and get his vision of it. And they sat down together, and I remember Keith... didn't know what to expect. And when they sat down, he sort of put it to her and said, “You're going to have to put on weight and stop working out,” and this that and the other thing. “This is how I want to do it.” And she was really, really game for it. And after the meeting, I remember him calling me saying, “If she's ready to go and do what she says she's going to do, then she's the one.” And it made a lot of sense, given who she is.


GG: It's also great to see her in a different light.


JH: Listen, she's obviously got these sort of fun teen comedies in her past like Mannequin and Porky's, and there is a little bit of that '80s nostalgia, sort of fun teen comedy fan-boy thing in this film, but for her to be coming at it from the side that she's coming at it now as this sort of older woman, as this sex idol but for a very different reason, it's really great to see.


GG: Yeah. As you know, she shows parts of herself that she's never shown before. Is Monica based on any kind of real-life inspiration?


Both: Keith's.


JH: Yeah, he could talk to you about his real life inspiration. Keith has a lot of experience. He's friends with a lot of sex workers, and he's friends with a lot of people in that community.


GG: I also think there's a lot of Keith in...


JH: In Tobe. Absolutely. Well, Keith will talk about the way our society disbars sex workers and people that work in that industry once they reach a certain age. For him, the thesis of the film is sort of about age and sex, and what our society does to sex idols as they get older and lose their luster. And I think he knows a lot of people in that world that he based Monica on. There are a couple specific women in his life that he has, but I think it's really about a bunch of people. If you could have dinner with any filmmaker, alive or dead, who would it be?


GG: Stanley Kubrick... I am just in awe of him and his work. Just every single film, I'm just mesmerized... Like in The Shining. How he could take a beautiful, bright day and just create the most incredible, eerie, scary moment. It's just brilliant.


JH: I think I'm going to say, just because he's still alive and I think there is a possibility that I could have dinner with him...I would love to have dinner with Werner Herzog. I love his films. I think he as an individual is, well, I mean the man's incredible. Keith and I, when we first sat down, talked a lot about Stroszek, which is [about] this strange German man coming to Wisconsin in the late '70s... [Herzog] pulled a boat up the side of a mountain for a film! The man is just an incredibly brave and daring filmmaker. I would just love to see where all that comes from. What piece of art—it can be a book, a film, a TV show, or anything—what are you constantly recommending to your friends right now most often?


GG: Modern Family. Phenomenal... It's been a long time since I laughed at a television show like I have at Modern Family. It's really incredible.


JH: I've been telling everyone to watch Life on Discovery HD. It's the follow-up to Planet Earth. It's awesome. What makes Meet Monica Velour a Tribeca must-see?


GG: I would say it's extremely unique. It's quirky, fun, entertaining. Just bring a box of popcorn and just sit back and be entertained and have fun. It has some dramatic moments, but it's not really the drama. It's very heartfelt, but at the same time it doesn't take itself too seriously. It's something that you can sit back and enjoy.


JH: Yeah. An entertaining film that you see a different side of Kim Cattrall in, but it's easy to watch and you'll have a good time.


GG: It's funny. It's ironic because you tell someone about how Meet Monica Velour is about a 50-year-old ex-porn star that Kim Cattrall plays. And the immediate reaction is, “Oh yeah, of course. It makes sense.” And it's ironic, because it's a whole opposite side of Kim you've never seen before, and she's extremely gritty. Like I said, it's the antithesis of Samantha from Sex and the City.


Find out when and where you can catch Meet Monica Velour.


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Special thanks to volunteer Danielle Dabney for helping out on this article!


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