In a tiny theater crammed full with couches and eager art-lovers, I watched the fated tale of Patrick and Pernilla, two mutually-obsessed childhood soul mates, unfold.

remy bennett and emilie richard froozan

Emilie & Remy photographed by KELSEY BENNETT

Amour fou, or doomed love, is a constant throughout the twisted plight of Patrick and Pernilla. Set to a hazy days dreamscape typical of the South, the film rocks gently to a backdrop of classic soul, something that reminds me of an afternoon mix tape you would listen to on a quiet porch. If you are into film theory and scopophilia is one of your favorite words, you will love the unexpected, rarely used female gaze of the psychological, sexual semi-thriller that is Buttercup Bill. Even if you are not a total nerd about noticing how long a shot is held before a cut, or the colors that remind you of the last time you were drinking by the Mississippi, it’s a film that will pull you in. With a style reminiscent of David Lynch, and lovers who seem more like twins separated at birth (if you’ve read Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle by Nabokov you’ll perk up a bit in your seat), friends who might actually be soul mates, Émilie Richard-Froozan and Remy Bennett, have produced a piece that is breath-taking, twisted, and painfully poignant upon realization that it is based even a little on biographical incidences.

SHK: WHAT GOT EACH OF YOU INTERESTED IN FILM?

ÉMILIE: When I was a kid my father hated children and he didn’t know what to do with them really, so when he spent time with me he’d take me to do what he wanted to do, and he liked to go to the movies. So he took me to all of these film festivals in the city and took me to a bunch of movies that I probably shouldn’t have seen and I just sort of got into it.

REMY: I mean, same thing for me, basically. It just started very, very young. My grandmother was a huge cinephile and we’d hang out and watch movies. So it basically it was an early-on family “thing.”

SHK: HAVING SEEN YOU TWO TOGETHER, IT SEEMS LIKE YOU ARE INCREDIBLY IN-SYNC. WHAT IS THE DYNAMIC OF YOUR WORKING RELATIONSHIP? DO YOU BOTH CONTRIBUTE TO THE CREATIVE PROCESS?

ÉMILIE: Remy and I met when we were 16 and were very different people, were complete opposites. Like we were at a court kind of a thing, and Remy was actively trying to get kicked out of it because she just wanted to go home and I was like “Oh no, don’t listen to her, don’t listen to her!” She was the rebellious, crazy one, and I was the goody-two-shoes. I guess with our scripts, when we’d get creative, those two sides would come out and reverse themselves and split back and forth but whatever it was – we were always in-sync with what we wanted to do but coming from two completely different angles.

REMY: I think, also, because we’re such good friends, underlying everything else there’s definitely a mutual respect there. So we can talk about different ideas or debate things, sort of go “Okay, well one person is going to have to compromise,” but it’s never personal, it’s never vindictive. It’s always a very positive, creative thing. We love the same things, we share books, we share movies, hang out and just sort of workshop things with each other, which is nice.

SHK: THAT IS NICE, AND OBVIOUSLY GOOD THINGS COME OF IT! IF YOU HAD TO DESCRIBE WHAT “BUTTERCUP BILL” IS OR MEANS IN A FEW SENTENCES, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

ÉMILIE: I guess “Buttercup Bill,” our movie, if I had to sum it up would be – and I think it’s the way anyone can relate to the film – it’s about somebody in your life, and it works so well just you and them on your own, but when it comes to the rest of the world and society, it just doesn’t; it’s something very common and it’s something that you want more than anything. It’s that spark or that feeling in all of the movies or books you’ve ever read, but it’s not really sustainable. It’s about anything you’ve ever wanted but could never have.

emilie richard foozan

 SHK: DID YOU WRITE THE SCRIPT TOGETHER?

(IN UNISON) Yup!

SHK: WHERE DID YOU DRAW INSPIRATION FROM?

ÉMILIE: Well, we just drew a lot of inspiration from our lives, it was basically an amalgamation of both of our experiences, but also a lot of literature and photography that we really liked.

REMY: We liked the idea that art does not have to be uplifting to reveal things, and that it doesn’t have to have a positive message, per se. To embrace art that can be dark and negative and unapproachable is something that we were really into doing – it isn’t like there’s some bright and shiny message at the end of the film. But the inspiration was definitely biographical in terms of both of our lives.

ÉMILIE: It kind of happened at this moment when both of us had gone through very different things but, aesthetically, it all came together in this world that was quite similar in the end.

SHK: WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO FILM IN NEW ORLEANS?

ÉMILIE: Ummmm… have you ever seen “Apocalypse Now?” (laughs) It’s kind of like that! We shot in Louisiana during a heat wave, and there were a lot of bugs, and it was crazy.

REMY: Also, the reason why we shot down there is because we have this whole group of friends there, so it was a very supportive environment –

ÉMILIE: It wasn’t random. Before we even got this (movie) together, I had this boyfriend who lived down there. So basically I fell in love and went to go see this guy, he lived in this house, and it’s the house where we ended up shooting the movie. It’s this amazing house and there were a lot of people living in it. Remy came down to visit and we were like “Let’s write a movie!” So we wrote the script and had the locations, which are sort of like characters themselves.

REMY: And a lot of our friends ended up playing themselves.

ÉMILIE: They were really excited that we were doing something and we wanted to capture this amazing group of people, it meant a lot to us. And we did, we’re happy about that.

SHK: THAT WAS GOING TO BE ONE OF MY QUESTIONS, IF YOU ALREADY KNEW THE OTHERS IN THE FILM BECAUSE THERE WAS THIS SORT OF CHEMISTRY LIKE YOU’D KNOWN EACH OTHER FOR A LONG TIME – NOW I KNOW WHY! DID ANYTHING CRAZY HAPPEN DURING FILMING?

ÉMILIE: We shot the whole film in 16 days, which isn’t that long. Everyone was just running around trying to make this stuff happen, it was just nuts because it all happened so fast. I guess the craziest thing that happened – I guess it’s not that crazy, but we went out to Alabama to shoot one scene. Everyone was like “Don’t do that, just shoot it here.” But there’s this cross garden in Alabama, it’s this plot of land that was owned by W. C. Rice – basically he woke up one morning and said “I need to repent for my sins,” and he made all these crazy crosses out of air conditioners and ovens. We made everyone drive, like, five hours to shoot one scene overnight for that. It worked, it came together!

buttercup-bill-film-still

film still

SHK: WHAT IS IT LIKE BEING TWO WOMEN IN A PREDOMINANTLY MALE-DOMINATED INDUSTRY? DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU MEET MUCH RESISTANCE OR HAVE A GENERALLY DIFFICULT TIME?

REMY: I feel like we’re not in the industry, really! To be honest, we’re sort of in the void. We’ve just been working creatively very intensely together, we haven’t really approached that realm yet. We’ve yet to encounter the outside world.

ÉMILIE: And we totally don’t hang out with filmmakers. We hang out with our friends who are mostly photographers or musicians or artists.

REMY: We just sat down and decided that we wanted to do this, with or without being a part of any film scene.

ÉMILIE: Something cool that happened is that, really early on, Remy and I showed our script to someone who is pretty high up in the film industry that I’d met through a drunken wedding speech… But they were like “It’s so crazy that you two wrote this, because I thought a 40 year old dude wrote this!” The film’s a really sexual film. When we shot it and people started to respond to it… 99% of the films we see that have any sort of sex in them are seen through the male gaze, and when someone came up to me and said that it’s really different to watch sex through a woman’s gaze, a woman’s perspective, it’s refreshing. And it is, because what the fuck do guys know about sex?!

SHK:…THAT’S A VERY VALID POINT.

REMY: I’m excited to see what kind of reaction we do get, it’s going to be kind of fun to deal with, I think.

SHK: IT’LL BE NICE TO SORT OF SHAKE THINGS UP A BIT.

REMY: Yeah, exactly.

remy bennett

SHK: DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING EXCITING PLANNED FOR “BUTTERCUP BILL?”

ÉMILIE: Yes, we’re premiering at the Marfa Film Festival in Texas.

SHK: THAT’S SOON, RIGHT?

ÉMILIE: Yeah, it’s July 3rd, and we’re really excited.

REMY: Yeah, that’s going to be our premiere.

ÉMILIE: And then we’ll see what else happens. I think “Buttercup Bill” has a life, and I don’t know what’s going to happen with it, but we’ll see.

REMY: Our focus is getting this movie out there and distributing it, that whole process is such a huge part of making a movie and I’m so into it.

SHK: SO WHEN PEOPLE READ THIS INTERVIEW ONLINE AND THINK THE MOVIE SOUNDS BADASS AND WANT TO WATCH IT, WHAT CAN THEY DO ABOUT IT?

REMY: We honestly have to see where the next screening is going to be, because it’s premiering at Marfa and then we have to see where we go next in terms of film festivals. And then hopefully get distribution; we’ll see what happens.

ÉMILIE: We have a website too, we’ll be keeping everyone abreast.

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