Actor Michael Biehn dropped by New Beverly Cinema on September 7, 2012 where the theater was hosting the Los Angeles premiere of his feature film directorial debut “The Victim.” Joining Biehn for a Q&A were his wife and co-star Jennifer Blanc, actor Denny Kirkwood who plays one of the police detectives, producer Lorna Paul and musician Randy Chance who provided some original songs for the movie.
The first question Biehn was asked, of course, was what finally persuaded him to step behind the camera and direct. Biehn replied that he was “not all that aware of really low budget movies until he worked on ‘Grindhouse'” with Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. The two directors ended up showing him a bunch of their favorite grindhouse/exploitation movies, and Biehn recollected of how he was on the set of “The Divide” one day and saw a crew member reading Rodriguez’s book “Rebel without a Crew.”
Those elements are what finally got Biehn to direct a movie as well as Blanc’s insistence in telling him to direct. Then again, she also said that “you can’t bully him into anything.”
Biehn also stars in “The Victim” as Kyle, a loner living in a remote cabin in the woods. He said that he kept thinking of “The Shining” and how Stanley Kubrick made the hotel look so isolated out in the snowy wilderness. It was that feeling of isolation Biehn wanted to capture in the movie, and “The Victim” ended up being shot in Topanga Canyon, California which seemed to have the right look. He went on to say that Blanc’s mother was especially helpful as she lives up there and talked to all her neighbors about what was going to happen. Apparently, the residents of Topanga Canyon don’t like it when filmmakers come to town and shoot their movies there, but Blanc’s mom ended up making things a lot easier as a result.
“The Victim” ended up being shot in 12 days, and both Biehn and Blanc said they were “not allowed to say how small the budget was.” They did however say that it was “much lower than what it says on the IMDB website” ($800,000).” Biehn went on to joke how the budget was “so low that there’s a lot about the movie I wish was different. ‘The Terminator’ had a budget of $6.5 million, and the budget on this one was about a tenth of that.”
As a result, the crew on “The Victim” ended up doing 35 setups a day compared to the average Hollywood blockbuster that manages just 2 or 3. All the car scenes in the movie were shot in a single day on someone’s driveway out in the woods, and Biehn joked about how the crew had to keep “driving in circles all f—ing day long.” They didn’t even have money to hire a stunt coordinator and that the scenes in the house between Biehn and Kirkwood has them fighting and trying not to hurt one another in the process.
Day one of production, Biehn said, was “all about sex” as he shot the sex scene between him and his wife. He said this was because “the script wasn’t finished yet” and they “had to shoot something.” This led Blanc to tell the audience that Biehn’s niece worked on the film in the makeup department and that this was her first experience in the movie business. His niece ended up watching Biehn drop his robe and go onto the set stark naked, and she was apparently so freaked out by what she saw that she didn’t speak about it for days afterwards.
This actually led to another funny story of when one of Biehn’s sons came to the set and ended up being traumatized by the sex scene his dad had with Blanc. Biehn even said that his son hasn’t seen “The Terminator” sex scene he had with Linda Hamilton, and that scene was “essential to the plot!”
All this talk of sex led Biehn to talk about how one of the characters in “The Victim” ends up “losing their life over a blow job.” Women’s sexuality, he said, ends up giving them a lot of power over men, and this proved to be the case in real life for John Edwards and Elliott Spitzer among others. Biehn described being amused at how some men end up messing up all the good they’ve done in life by “blowing it all for some pussy.” Sadly, there’s a lot of truth to that.
Another scene from “The Victim” discussed was when Biehn’s character gets put in a choke hold. He ended up telling actor Ryan Honey to put him in a real choke hold and assured the actor he would tap him on the arm if it became too much. Biehn recollected he was “surprised at how fast it worked” and that he was “gonna be lucky” if he could tap out. After that, Biehn said he was in “la la land” for a while and remembered one of the producers saying they would not be trying this again.
One audience member asked how Danielle Harris (best known for her work in the “Halloween” movies) got cast as Mary in “The Victim.” Blanc responded that she and Harris are “good friends” and that Harris liked the script. Biehn said he always saw Harris playing “teenagers who are always running away from monsters, butut here she gets to play a woman.” He also remarked at how Harris started as an actress at a very young age and that she at times directs herself which made him see at times that he “didn’t have to tell her anything.”
Before “The Victim” began its screening at New Beverly Cinema, Biehn made an announcement to the audience:
“If you don’t like f—ing or fighting, get up and leave now,” said Biehn. “Don’t take any of what you see seriously. Think of this movie as being food like cotton candy; it doesn’t fill you up, but you will remember having fun eating it.”
The above description says it all, and we thank Michael Biehn and his colleagues for giving us a highly entertaining time at the movies.
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