4:15 pm - 05/23/2012

GQ Talks to "Spring Breakers" Director

The last feature film Harmony Korine made was about fucking trash—"fucking" as in the verb, not merely an obscene gerund. In keeping with his passion for debris, Korine's newest film Spring Breakers takes us to the cultural petri dish that is South Florida, a neon depository where America's trashiest get deep-fried.

The "comedy-romance" journeys to a paradise lost, tracking the descent of four beach bunnies into darkness—with a cornrowed, drug-dealing James Franco as their shepherd. The Franco Conceptual Experience will hardly rankle, but this might: Disney Channel wunderkinds Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, alongside Glee's Ashely Benson and Rachel Korine, the director's wife, play the co-ed criminals, toting guns, parlaying with Gucci Mane, and upsetting the very controlled universe of family fun and Justin Bieber.

With all of this in mind, do you even need a story? As we found out speaking with Harmony, we don't, and neither does he.

GQ: Is the movie close to finished?
Harmony Korine: Not even close. Well, it should be done in three or four months.

GQ: How did spring break become the focus of your film? Why did you decide to make a movie about spring break?
Harmony Korine: Well, I don't even know if that's what it's about. It's hard to say. I had this idea about girls in bikinis robbing people with ski masks on. Then I started to imagine where it could take place and then I started thinking about the idea of spring break. I don't know if it would be classified as a "spring break" film—I don't even know what that is.

GQ: Where do those ideas come from? Is there an evolution?
Harmony Korine: Ever since I was little, I would just make stories up in my mind. It was based on people I saw in the street or someone I would talk to or I would hear a specific voice. I've never actually directed anything I haven't made up. I've never adapted anything. It usually comes from somewhere... I let myself dream.

GQ: You have so many different elements in this movie—James Franco, South Florida, Selena Gomez. It seems just like a great reason to throw all these things together. There's something inherently funny about that.
Harmony Korine: Yeah. Those are just things I love in life.

GQ: Something I've always found interesting about you is that you've always aspired to be a commercial filmmaker.
Harmony Korine: I just really hope that as many people see it as possible, and that it shatters records.

GQ: It's hard to say what about this movie has gotten the most attention. You've said that it's interesting the way that the media has dissected the movie.
Harmony Korine: It's a hard question to answer. Even doing an interview is bizarre, because I'm still formulating the ideas for the movie. It's hard for me to ever to say what a movie is about, even after it's done!

GQ: Does that make it hard to pitch the movie?
Harmony Korine: I've never had to pitch a movie to a studio. I usually just let people read the script, then I cast it. I always think pitching is for baseball [laughs].

GQ: What kind of emotional response are you hoping to get from audiences?
Harmony Korine: I want it to be a sensory thing, that it goes through you like a feeling or a rush more than anything else. The way that really hard repetitive bass feels in your gut, lke when you hear someone in a truck with bass just blaring and smashing, so smashing that it knocks your eyes out of your socket. That's all that I care about.

GQ: So you want a gut reaction?
Harmony Korine: Yeah, but beyond the gut. It's got to really rattle your insides. I'm trying to get to some place where the reaction is more physical than anything else. Something that exists within you—like bass [laughs].

GQ: Do you find that concept difficult to explain to actors?
Harmony Korine: I don't ever have to. I don't get into that. If an actor asked me, then I would. But usually our conversations are more character-oriented.

GQ: Speaking of actors, it's hard to avoid bringing up James Franco. We've learned so much about him the last few years, his eccentricities. What was it about him that appealed to you?
Harmony Korine: Oh, it was simple—he's a great actor and a real character. And he's bold. I like people that just go for it.

GQ: Much has been made about the guy he's playing, that there was this rapper Riff Raff who claimed to be the inspiration for the character. Where did the character come from?
Harmony Korine: I don't want to talk about it too much, but it's just an amalgamation of a lot of different people. There's the physical side. And a lot of it is just from kids I grew up with.

GQ: Were you guys listening to a lot of rap?
Harmony Korine: I don't listen to music made by white people. I especially hate anything where a guitar is used. I don't listen to white people and guitars.

GQ: Is there a reason?
Harmony Korine: I'm just opposed to it.

GQ: But you got him to rap in the movie, right?
Harmony Korine: Well. He does rap in it. I can't say too much about it [laughs].

GQ: You'd once said you'd love to have someone like Miley Cyrus to promote one of your movies. And you sort of did that here with Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez. Why did you think they'd fit into a Harmony Korine film?
Harmony Korine: I think they're great, terrific, awesome. I thought they'd be perfect. They're exactly who I wanted.

GQ: They're also incredibly young. Or at least they look that way. Does youth play a huge role in your movie?
Harmony Korine: I wouldn't say I'm especially interested in youth culture. I don't really care that much about hanging out with old people. I mean, I will hang out with an old person. It's not that I'm against it. You only have a short time on this planet, you might as well enjoy it. Hang out with a young person.

GQ: You tend to buckle down and immerse yourself in the editing process. Is that exhausting?
Harmony Korine: I like it. It's my favorite thing. It's one of my favorite times in life, to be able to disappear and make a movie. Most of my life is spent trying to get away from people so that I could make things.

GQ: You'd said something similar about filmmaking, the sort of filmmaking that's largely made up other films, as this hyper-referential collage. Like a Tarantino movie.
Harmony Korine: I think it's good if there's meaning behind references. Otherwise it can seem to just pass the time, you know what I mean?

GQ: Do you care how your work is interpreted? Or at least how critics interpret it?
Harmony Korine: You care as much as you want people to enjoy things. But honestly, I just do what I do. I don't even care. I just make things, there's a purpose to it. I don't sit around and I've never thought about things like that too deeply. Good or bad, it's just like whatever, what the fuck.

GQ: You'd said you don't watch your movies. Do you still do that?
Harmony Korine: Yeah, why would I watch them? I made them! There's so much other stuff to do. It's not important for me to be reminded of who I am. I've never felt the need to do those things. I don't understand people's compulsions to network, to be social, to be part of a group or join in. All I ever wanted to do was join out. It doesn't make sense to me.

GQ: But do you ever look back on it and think it should have been different?
Harmony Korine: No, I always think that it was perfect, even with all the mistakes. I never question it. It's exactly the way it should be. Once it's done, it's perfect, and it exists in its own world.

GQ: Do you feel unaffected by criticism?
Harmony Korine: Well, no. But do you get affected when your mother tells you you're a scumbag?

GQ: Um. Maybe.
Harmony Korine: You're affected by it for that afternoon, but then the next morning, you're out partying.

GQ: So there's no residual effect?
Harmony Korine: How can I say this? I've been making movies since I was a kid. I've heard everything. In the end, good or bad, it doesn't matter. I want people to enjoy it. But I make work because I have to, because I love it. I was never trying to create so that I would all of a sudden fall into some world. Basically what I'm trying to say is I really don't give a shit. 

GQ: For a long time, people have associated you with New York. And then I read that you hated it. Are you driven by place? Florida seems like it's own country.
Harmony Korine: Yeah. It definitely felt like that. I travel to mostly shitty places, I try not to travel anywhere too nice. I almost never go anywhere nice, but I go lots of places that are horrible.

GQ: Like where?
Harmony Korine: Like everywhere in America.  (umm excuse u america is beautiful geographically, mister)

GQ: Do you have anything coming up in the future?
Harmony Korine: So much stuff that it's hard to contain. Some times it feels like it never stops.

totallymya 23rd-May-2012 08:36 pm (UTC)
This wins "I wouldn't say I'm especially interested in youth culture. I don't really care that much about hanging out with old people. I mean, I will hang out with an old person. It's not that I'm against it. You only have a short time on this planet, you might as well enjoy it. Hang out with a young person."
fuckingsookie 23rd-May-2012 08:40 pm (UTC)
"I don't listen to music made by white people...I don't listen to white people and guitars"

And none for John Mayer, bye
kenzainfluenza 23rd-May-2012 09:09 pm (UTC)
this movie is gonna be soo fucking stupid. only reason he cast vanessa and selena was for controversy and nothing else. hes desperate for his movie to be a mainstream success.
watch_mex0x0 23rd-May-2012 09:50 pm (UTC)
ahhh i need to see this now
_teardust 23rd-May-2012 10:10 pm (UTC)
alongside Glee's Ashely Benson

malidocious 24th-May-2012 12:00 am (UTC)
That's what I was coming in to say........ LOL
teenagedreamxxx 23rd-May-2012 10:30 pm (UTC)
Selena's resume is looking good, 2013 is gonna be a big year for her movie career.
carolmp15 24th-May-2012 01:20 am (UTC)
yeap! so excited for it!
boomboxrobot 23rd-May-2012 11:12 pm (UTC)
"Glee's Ashely Benson"... who are your copy editors and where are they hiding, GQ?
pyt0_0 24th-May-2012 12:05 am (UTC)
Lmao, he's weird... idk about this movie now tbh. He seems kinda delusional and like Selena Vanessa James are there because they're known. Who knows yet though, all the super talented are nuts in 1 way or another.
allfleur 24th-May-2012 01:48 am (UTC)
I'm not an 'indie-cool kid' so maybe I just don't 'get it', but seriously, every one of the 'behind the scenes' shots for this movie has looked like they're 'behind the scenes' at a porn genuinely does look like that! I think it's a shame Selena Gomez chose to feature in this, because although I'm not a fan of hers per se, she has always struck me as kind of classy, and this film looks anything but.

The director sounds exactly like I expected him to. Too. Much. Weed.
imahouseofcards 24th-May-2012 02:11 pm (UTC)
Oh ic he castes these girls to make his movie successful huh
cammyr12 25th-May-2012 05:37 am (UTC)
Im getting a hipster-existentialist vibe from him.

From what I've gathered, Im predicting this movie's going to be very abstract and gritty. But audiences will most likely not appreciate this.
It's not a commercial film that should be put in theaters tbh. Should be kept as festival only.
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