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Dirty Girl

Release Date :2011-10-07

Duration : 90 min

Director :Abe Sylvia

Celebrities :Juno Temple, Jeremy Dozier and Milla Jovovich

Genre :Drama

Plot :
For lack of a better term, Dirty Girl is a coming-of-age story about a girl named Danielle (Juno Temple) and a boy named Clarke (newcomer Jeremy Dozier) growing up in 1980s Oklahoma.  Written and Directed by Abe Sylvia, it is at once hilarious, bawdy, nostalgic, heartbreaking, and will send you home bopping your head to the best tunes from Melissa Manchester.  I met with Abe Sylvia to talk about his new work, and found him to be  as charming and lively as the characters he carefully crafts in his new film Dirty Girl.

What were you like as a teenager?  Were you at all like Clark?

I’m similar in that I grew up in Oklahoma; I ate my feelings like Clarke did.  I certainly felt alienated from the other kids, but I don’t necessarily feel like that’s anything new for a teenager to feel, I worshiped Melissa Manchester and I danced in my room, but beyond that, the rest is sort of a made up story. Definitely my point of view, and my impressions, of the people around me in Oklahoma at the time, all of that stuff is very personal.  I had the greatest parents in the world, most accepting, most loving people.

So there was no dad trying to send you off to military school?

Oh God no, no no.  My dad is a feminist!

Did you have a Danielle in your real life?

I think my life has been a series of Danielles.  I think starting with this one girl in my junior high, “Dirty Debbie” who, I wasn’t friends with. I wasn’t brave enough to go up and say “Hi”, and she probably really could have used a friend.  But she wasn’t coming up to me either – there you go, I wasn’t her cup of type of guy. I was always sort of struck by her freedom.  Everybody remembers the dirty girl.  Every high school has one. Whether you were friends with her or not you remember her name, she sticks with you. I think it’s because people are just discovering who they are as sexual beings and here’s this girl who already has it figured out. Whether she actually has or not is a different story, but that, I think, is why she’s iconic.

And through my life all of my primary great loving relationships – the best ones have been with iconoclastic women who broke the molds and have potty mouths and say what they feel. I love that about them and they love that I love that about them, and therein is our friendship.  So that is what I wanted to do in that story of this friendship.  That’s what I wanted to bring out.

You were able to do something in this film that many filmmakers are not successful doing and that is to be true to your characters while having hot button themes like teen sexuality, homosexuality, isolation, bullying without preaching or condescending to your audience.  Can you talk about your approach to that?

The script was really organic.  I wrote the script really quickly. I wrote it as a class project at UCLA, in 12 weeks. I didn’t do a whole heck of a lot of re-writing after I was finished.  The flow was good; I think I was in a good place.  I knew I could talk like Daniel – I knew I could talk like Clark, and I could just get them talking, and then you sort of say what are the themes in this funny dialogue and I thought how can I now underline that, how can all of these pieces become part of a whole.

The themes of parenting and what makes a family, a family isn’t just something you’re born into, it’s something that you find.  That last shot of the movie with Milla Jovovich and Mary Steenburgen and she’s got that little girl in her lap and neither of those women is her mother and then you pull back and you see Juno on the floor and she talks about her father and it all just kind of happened sort of organically. I talked to Mary and Milla about this, they’re both mothers, and they say ‘gosh you never feel like you’re doing the right thing you do your best but you never feel like it’s right.’

I think if you say, “oh, I’m about to make a movie with a message” you’re screwing yourself. It just has to be characters you find interesting and funny and worth making a movie about. Get them talking to each other and see what you find. I think if you start with a political agenda you will end up with a PSA. I sort of learned that as an undergrad at theatre school. I had a professor that said “are you making art? Or are you making propaganda?” He dropped that into our brains.

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