Inteview: Michael Biehn & Jennifer Blanc-Biehn on The Victim
Interview conducted by Ben Bussey
Michael Biehn’s The Victim just had its UK premiere at FrightFest, and is set to hit DVD and Blu-ray on both sides of the Atlantic in the next few weeks. Thanks to this we were able to catch a few words with Biehn and Blanc-Biehn, the husband and wife team collectively responsible for writing, directing, producing and playing the lead roles in this intimate neo-grindhouse flick. I reviewed it a few weeks back, and while it didn’t quite knock my socks off it’s certainly not a bad piece of work, demonstrating that not only does Biehn still have his chops in front of the camera, but also that he may well yet prove to be a force to be reckoned with behind the camera as well. And hey, even if I didn’t love the film, I could hardly pass up the chance to exchange a few words with a childhood hero, could I; even if it was only by e-mail?
Hello Michael and Jennifer, many thanks for taking the time to speak to us at Brutal as Hell. My first question is one of the first that immediately came to mind watching The Victim, which is – Michael’s playing another guy called Kyle?!
Michael: Yes! He was called Kyle in the original story but then it became a nod to Jim Cameron – that’s why we kept it.
So Michael, I understand you had previously worked in a directorial capacity on another film, The Blood Bond, in which Jennifer also acted. From what I’ve read I gather this wasn’t an especially great experience, and I wondered whether this influenced the direction taken with The Victim?
Jennifer: The Victim is totally Michael’s. The Blood Bond, we were there, we are in it but it’s not our voices and not Michael’s film, so Michael considers this his directorial debut and he made sure his contract stated his full control of this way before we began. So this could truly be his.
You have been very open in acknowledging the influence of Robert Rodriguez, even going so far as to dedicate the film to him in the end credits. Where there any other specific films or filmmakers that inspired you, in terms of tone and content?
Michael: Yes, Quentin Tarantino and then there are nods to David Fincher, Clint Eastwood, Jim Cameron and especially the look of the film is owed to a conversation with Xavier Gens. I saw his film Frontiers and the night shots were stunning. When we asked him he told me and Jen he had shot it day for night. That’s what we ended up doing.
One thing that really sets The Victim apart from most contemporary exploitation films is the visual style; you went for a more clean, natural look rather than all the grime and superimposed scratches we see in a lot of films since Grindhouse. Was this an artistic or budgetary choice?
Michael: That was an artistic choice and actually the advice early on from Robert Rodriguez after he saw an early cut.
The Victim is also one of those films in which the behind-the-scenes stories are as entertaining as the film itself, one particularly memorable anecdote being when Ryan Honey choked Michael out for real in a fight scene. From an outsider perspective that seems a fairly extreme approach! Or have worse things happened to you physically on a shoot?
Michael: I’m very passionate and intense and I thought for some reason it would be fine. Clearly I won’t make that decision again! It made for some good behind the scenes entertainment though.
So I have to ask about the sex scene. How to put it this… it’s strange enough as a viewer watching a sex scene when the actors are a real-life couple, so I can only imagine how it must be for you as actors!
Michael: Well we are pretty proud of that scene! The lighting is beautiful. But you know what, the lights are so hot and you are concerned with making it look good so it’s not super sexual in the moment.
The big question has to be, can we expect more Blanc-Biehn productions in the future? Any other projects in the pipeline you can tell us about?
Michael: Treachery is in post-production, written and directed by Travis Romero, and we are on post-production on The Farm directed by Xavier Gens. Also, Hidden in the Woods, the English-language remake by Patricio Valledares plus up and down on The Predictor for late next year!
And just because I can’t let you go without one gratuitously geeky question – who would win in a fight between Kyle Reese and Dwayne Hicks? Or would The Victim’s Kyle beat them both?
Michael: Originally I might say the first Kyle, but now maybe Kyle number 2!
Michael and Jennifer, thank you so much for talking with us today.
The Victim is out on Region 1 DVD and Blu-ray on 18th September, and Region 2 on the 24th, from Anchor Bay.