"Repo! The Genetic Opera" World Premiere

The world premiere of Repo! The Genetic Opera was held at the Fantasia Festival in Montreal yesterday (July 18).

Repo is a musical/horror film directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II-IV) and featuring Alexa Vega, Anthony Stewart Head, Sarah Brightman, Paul Sorvino, Paris Hilton, Bill Moseley, Terrance Zdunich and Nivek Ogre.

The movie is set in a future were organ failure has become a worldwide epidemic. Geneco, a biotech company, launches an organ-financing program (similar to a car loan). But those who don't keep up with their payments see their organs repossessed... [Trailer]

There was a Q&A after the movie. Present were:

- Darren Lynn Bousman, director
- Darren Smith, writer/songwriter
- Terrance Zdunich, writer/songwriter/actor
- Daniel J. Heffner, producer
- Bill Moseley, actor
- Alexa Vega, actress

Bill Moseley (plays Luigi Largo) and director Darren Lynn Bousman.

Alexa Vega (plays Shilo Wallace)

Darren Lynn Bousman introduces the movie (the tiny figure in the black jacket in front of the screen). You can also see Alexa Vega in the first VIP row (the VIP rows are the one with a "Repo" sign and the one in front of it). You can also see me, but I'm not telling where ;)

Darren Lynn Bousman introduces the cast/crew that's attending the premiere (that's why everyone is looking behind them, at the VIP rows).

During the Q&A, the writers (Smith and Zdunick) talked about Repo's humble beginnings about 8 years ago. They met with Bousman, the director, back when he was working on the X-Files (or when he'd just been fired from the X-Files). At the time Smith and Zdunick were just doing little 10-minute plays and one of them was similar to Repo, and with Bousman's help they made it into a full-length musical. They set up a theater in a small warehouse, where they brought chairs themselves and served drinks illegally. The only bathroom was backstage, so it got crowded during intermission.

Bousman said to the writers that if he ever became a successful director he would make Repo into a movie (and they laughed at him). But after shooting Saw II (I think. Either Saw II or III) he went to the production company and asked if he could do this little "passion project" he had. He called Repo a "passion project" because he's making sequels for a while (the first Saw wasn't his, he only did II-IV), and his next movie is a remake (of David Cronenberg's Scanners), so Repo is more meaningful to him because it's really his project from beginning to end.

While they were shooting Saw (Again, II or III, I can't recall), he asked some of the Saw cast and crew to stay for a weekend and they shot a 10-minute demo of Repo. Someone at the Q&A asked if that demo will be on the DVD, Bousman said it might not be, because they don't have clearance from anyone who participated in it. They'll try to get it but can't guarantee anything.

Repo was shot with a pretty small budget (which, IMHO, doesn't show at all. I was really surprised when they said that). Everything was shot in a single warehouse in Toronto, all the sets were built there. They recycled some sets from Saw IV (which I haven't seen, so I can't tell whether the sets are easily recognizable or not). For instance, they purposefully set up a scene from Saw IV in a mausoleum, because they knew some scenes in Repo would be set in a mausoleum but they might not have the budget for it. So he built it for Saw and kept it.

The movie was originally over 2.5 hours. Seven songs were removed to improve pacing and shorten the movie. The movie is now a little over an hour and a half.

What they said about the casting:

The Graverobber: played by Terrance Zdunich, who's also one of the writers/songwriter, and he drew the comics we see during the movie. I have definitely become a fan. :D

Repo man: played by Anthony Stewart Head, who was their first choice for the role. They've pictured him in the part ever since they saw Once More With Feelings (the Buffy musical episode).

Blind Mag: played by Sarah Brightman. They had originally cast someone else in the role, but she was regularly late, missing shooting, didn't return phone calls, etc. so they fired her. Someone suggested Sarah Brightman as a replacement and the director though, "yeah, right" because they were sure she wouldn't give them the time of day. But they sent her the script and a few days later she was on the set, much to their surprise.

Luigi Largo: played by Bill Moseley. Someone in the audience asked if it was weird for Moseley to sing and dance and kill people all at once. Moseley said the killing came pretty easily (for those who are unfamiliar with him, he's done a lot of horror movies). He's the lead singer of the band Cornbugs (with Buckethead and Pinchface) and he gave a Cornbugs CD to the director as an example of his singing, and the director said after listening to it, "yes, but can you sing?"

Pavi Largo: played by Nivek Ogre from Skinny Puppy. The director and/or writers (I'm not sure who) met Ogre at a party and asked him if he wanted to be in the movie, but the production company had a bit of a problem with his casting. So the director/writers gave him some pointers and told him to prepare a monologue in character. He did and impressed the suits, so they hired him.

Amber Sweet: played by Paris Hilton. They had a bit of a bias against her, they thought it would hurt their credibility if she was part of the cast. But she really wanted the part (she brought the script with her when she went to jail and called them from jail to set up a meeting). They were a kind of doubtful but met up with her anyway. She showed up dressed as her character and when she started to sing she blew them all away. They said she had really worked for it and deserved the part entirely. When they were shooting she stayed at the hotel with the cast and crew and went out with them, they said she was a good team player.

Shilo: played by Alexa Vega. She was first contacted about the part by the director, he sent her a message on MySpace about it. She didn't know who he was so she was kind of doubtful about the whole thing. He contacted her again and mentioned he was the director of Saw, so Alexa asked a friends of hers who was in Saw I if he actually was, and her friends, "uh, no." (as previously mentioned, Bousman only directed the Saw sequels, not the original). If I recall correctly, she accepted the part after reading the comic book that's featured in the movie.

Vega also talked about how when you do a movie, once it's shot, you've done your job and you can only hope that the post-production team puts together a good thing. When she did the Spy Kids movie, she wouldn't have cared if the final result had been bad, because then she could always say, "Whatever, they're just kid movies", but with Repo she really liked the project, and it was the first time she cared about the final product. Now that she's seen the complete movie, she's really happy with it, and even if it ends up not being very successful she's done something she's proud of.

My impressions, cliff notes version: pretty awesome movie. Great soundtrack, great cast (even Paris was surprisingly good), fantastic art direction. And it's a pretty original concept, which is nice to see nowadays amongst all the sequels and remakes.

The movie comes out November 7 and the soundtrack will be available in September. There's already a 7-track demo available on iTunes and a few tracks on Repo's MySpace.

Is it going to be a cult movie? The potential is definitely there, but I get the feeling it'll fly under the radar. Unfortunately it will come out as a limited release, so some people will have to wait for the DVD, but if you have a chance to see it on a movie theater, do so. There are a few shots in there that deserve to be seen in a big screen.

Source: Q&A summary from me, pictures from Fantasia.