Apr 3, 2008

Interview with Nico B.

Nico B. is the renowned director of the experimental cult film PIG. This macabre masterpiece was a collaboration between Nico B. and the legendary Christian Death front man Rozz Williams. Nico B. is also the founder and owner of the film distribution company CULT EPICS which has released PIG, VIVA LA MUERTE, IN A GLASS CAGE and a variety of other subversive masterpieces. Shortly after PIG was finished, Christian Death's Rozz Williams took his own life.

"All truth is parallel" -Rozz Williams

SS: Nico B, you're originally from Holland. What made you decide to move to the United States?

NB: I was living at the time with Gitane Demone (of Christian Death) in Holland and she suggested the move as she wanted to pursue her career further in the states. I liked the idea as I could concentrate on making some films I had been thinking about.

SS: Were you involved with film in the Netherlands?

NB: When I was in my early 20's I went to film school. My teacher, who was a Buddhist, and former lover of Abel Ferrara and Bob Dylan, became a good friend of mine. She gave me the crucial advice after finishing my first short film to make money first and then make films. She said nobody was gonna finance my films as my ideas were too radical, so I started the idea of Cult Video, distributing cult films on video by mail order. Shortly afterwards I opened a few stores in Holland and started my film company Cult Epics which distributed unreleased rare Cult films like Bettie Page and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer films. I still run the company to this day, but now only in the US and Canada.

SS: How did you meet the late and great Rozz Williams?

NB: I saw Rozz play when I was 18 (we were the same age). I didn't meet him at that show. Ten years later I was living with Gitane. I heard he was gonna play in Germany and I suggested to her to meet him and make up (the two had a falling out). She did and after that I booked a tour with them together. I also produced their collaboration CD Dream Home Heartache and again organized a world tour for both of them. I captured some amazing footage of her and Rozz. It will be released later this year on a DVD compilation I am producing with Gitane at the moment.

SS: What was the process you and Rozz used when collaborating on the masterpiece PIG?

NB: I moved to the United States in late 1996. Rozz suggested we make a film together and I liked his ideas. I told him to make a film we needed to transform his ideas more clearly into script form. We started meeting every day at Canter's in Hollywood around the corner where he lived. After about a month we had a final script. The film was originally intended to be projected on screen behind a PE (Premature Ejaculation) or a Heltir performance. Rozz was supposed to improvise the films soundtrack live. Of course, this never happened and the film was released later with music edited by Chuck Collison (PE) out of sound collages recorded by Rozz Williams.

SS: What can you tell us about Rozz for those that didn't know him?

NB: He was the sweetest and kindest person I ever met. Ironically, he also had one of the darkest minds I ever came across, much like my own. Like me, he was interested in serial killers and I guess that's why we got along so well. At the end of his life, Rozz told me that he was in love with me. Of course, the sexual part I could not do much with which I had to tell him. I think it hurt him as we were very close in the last year of his life. I know he wanted somebody to love him and have a relationship with, especially a man. He felt guilty about something that happened when he was a teenager and he never really got over it. I think that and the lack of love made him kill himself.

SS: Were you a fan of Christian Death before meeting Rozz?

NB: I never was a fan of anybody. When I got older I met many "known" people. This happened at first when I became an editor for a music magazine. Later I became a music and film distributor. Pretty soon I saw that the people behind the music and films that I was a fan of were rather disappointing in real life. Although, I must say Rozz lived up to his legacy and we also had some things in common.

SS: I saw your short Hollywood Babylon. How did you come into contact with Kenneth Anger?

NB: PIG was advertised at the American Cinematheque in 2000 in Los Angeles. Kenneth called me up and I invited him to the screening. I did a Q&A and he was the main person at the sold out house to ask questions. Afterwards we met and he asked me if I had a film camera. I still had the same 16mm Ariflex Camera that I used for PIG and later on BETTIE PAGE DARK ANGEL Strangely enough the camera was used for a 70's TV series in Holland that I loved when I was a kid. It was about the misfortunes of a boy named Bartje. Anger eventually invited me to come to the Museum of Death, to film his exhibit Hollywood Babylon.

SS: Can you tell us about your experience meeting with Anger?

NB: Afterwards he met my then wife and child. We even celebrated Christmas together. Then out of nowhere, in some dark moment he called me and was upset about something. Anger said he would put a spell on my family and I ask him to never contact me again.

SS: What filmmakers and films have inspired you personally?

NB: Not sure as my film making is mainly subconscious. Consciously maybe Jean Cocteau. Like myself he was not really a traditional filmmaker. He used film as merely an instrument to visualize his dreams (or as he said slumbers), visions, and clairvoyant experiences (like myself). Currently I am also inspired by early century Vintage Erotic films. They inspired the visualization of my new film SIN.

SS: What do you think about the digital age that we have entered into? How do you feel about filmmakers using film less and less?

NB: It's not that important. If it fits the subject and it works, then thats great. Iff you are trying to make a HD look like film, you are missing the point. For my film BETTIE PAGE DARK ANGEL, I shot partly Digitally for the kitschy recreation of scenes as how I saw Bettie Page and the 50's in a Cinemascope color aspect. However, for the recreation of the bondage films I used the traditional 16mm b&w film that were used in those days.

SS: Are there any filmmakers that you believe that we should be watching
out for? Anyone that you think has something new to express/say?

NB: Olivier Smolders, from whom I released his films (with Cult Epics) SPIRITUAL EXERCISES and BLACK NIGHT. His ideas are extremely interesting and dark. He is a lot like David Lynch but much more organic. I first released his short film ADORATION about the Japanese real life cannibal on the CINEMA OF DEATH DVD. This is the same DVD collection in which I released the second edition of PIG (as the first release has been out of print for a long time) and HOLLYWOOD BABYLON. People really loved his short so I contacted and told him that we should release his other films. I love his short films specifically. They can be seen SPIRITUAL EXERCISES DVD.

SS: What upcoming projects are your working on?

NB: My new film SIN is a collection of 3 stories told from my own personal experiences with women I have been with. I put the protagonist of each film in a different time and changed their professional ambitions. All three I shot on Super 8 to get that early century artistic feeling. All three are also very surreal and erotic (and of course controversial). In one story a nun gives an on camera blow job to a priest. I believe this is the first art film to show this on screen. The scene is a tribute to Rozz of Christian Death (both of us being brought up with Christian beliefs). Also, the religious ending of Bettie Page Dark Angel is also a reference to the scene in SIN.

SS: Your use of real depicted violence and sexual mutilation in PIG has been known to shock. How did that scene go about being filmed? I can imagine that being an awkward set-up.

NB: It was hard to find a victim who would agree to being in these scenes. After interviewing several people, everybody had some kind of phobia. This one guy eventually came along and said we could do anything to him as long as we didn't kill him. He was a huge fan of Rozz. We shot all the torture scenes in one day. I believe the first day of shooting was the day after I got married and I had just got back from Las Vegas. It was shot in Rozz's basement. I wasn't always sure what Rozz would do next. He would not only follow the script, but would improvise, and I would direct him visually in the scenes. The torture victim had the title of the movie PIG carved in his chest. He also had a syringe put thru his nipples and penis (and a tube inside his penis). He also had a syringe inside the veins of his arms. Rozz missed the vein in one of the torture victims arms and he did came to the point of changing his mind. He started screaming "no more torture, I will do anything else." This was fine because at that point we already got what we needed.

R.I.P Rozz

-Nico B


Anonymous said...

A brilliant interview by a brilliant filmaker. Pig is brilliant a masterwork. Nico's book on Rozz is great as well.

Anonymous said...

Where can I get a copy of SIN by Nico B.

Anonymous said...

What was it that Rozz did as a teenager that he never got over??