Broad Green Pictures and Amazon Studious open The Neon Demon nationwide on June 24th, 2016.
NYC MOVIE GURU: When it comes to finding balance between entertaining the audience and provoking them emotionally as well as intellectually, which of those elements is the toughest to find balance for?
Nicholas Winding Refn: The balance between creativity, singularity, financial interests and popularity and whether you have anything to say is the great, fine balance of mass media. Film is perceived as a mass media outlet. It's like liquid: you keep on grabbing it, and then it flows on your hand, and then you grab it again and again. Both ends of the spectrum are too simple, so the challenge is always: how do you walk the line between everything. There is no rule or law or right or wrong. It's about so many other things in life.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How important and challenging is it to know when to leave room for interpretation for the audience?
NWR: You should never intellectualize when to do it when you're making a movie because then you start to get calculated. Calculation is pretty predictable. The only thing that you can do is make the kind of films that you would like to make and never change. The future of entertainment is about singularity---especially in this day-and-age when then financial machine of filmmaking has become so well-invented. It kind of runs by its own DNA. It doesn't matter what you or I think or do; it's still going to work. I think that's a part of the industry that I enjoy, but I also believe that creativity is about reaction. The only way to react is to have an experience and an opinion about it.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Would you prefer that audiences judge the characters in The Neon Demon more or experience them more?
NWR: I think that it's very individual. The subject of beauty is very provocative because people generally have a very preconceived notion of all the ugliness and viciousness, but at the same time, if it wasn't beautiful, we wouldn't be looking at it. So, I think that this movie automatically forces someone to have an opinion about a subject that is very universal. On one level, it can be very shallow and, on another level, it can be very complex. There's a big difference between seeing a movie about a world of beauty compared to seeing a movie about the world of shallowness.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Do you think that style sometimes becomes substance?
NWR: With any kind of experience, its style is part of its substance. I find it strange that, sometimes, in the movie industry there's so much fear of the unknown, fear of unpredictability, fear of challenge which is the exact reason why cinema was invented. I wonder why there's so much danger.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Would you have liked to be a filmmaker in any other decade in the past if you could?
NWR: No. I think I'm very happy to be part of the digital revolution. This is the best time to make films no matter what. You see, I'm from the future, so I make films for an audience in the future, and that's always quite a wild ride.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you think are the basic elements that turn a horror film into a classic?
NWR: If you go through the films that are considered cult classics, the only thing that they have in common is that they're imperfect and they're singular.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Given what you had said in a past interview about how the build-up of an action scene is more interesting than its climax, would you also agree with Hitchcock's belief that the anticipation of something that's about to happen is where the suspense can truly be found??
NWR: Absolutely. I think that we see eye to eye.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you think is so appealing about dark themes?
NWR: Look at Shakespeare's characters. All that they were were dark. So, the darker the drama, the more resonant, interesting and entertaining it is.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How important is it to include comic relief?
NWR: You need comic relief everywhere. In Shakespeare there's a lot of comedy. I don't ever want to be defined. Like Charlie Bronson said in my film, Bronson, "You can't put me in a box, mate."
NYC MOVIE GURU: Would it be safe to say that you leave your own filmmaking signature, so-to-speak, throughout your films just like painters leave painterly brushstrokes?
NWR: Not consciously. That would be a little self-absorbed of me. I certainly try to find my personality when I'm writing.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Would something be lost if audiences were to watch The Neon Demon on the small screen?
NWR: No, it was made for YouTube. I designed it for YouTube. You could chop it up into 10 pieces.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Which film do you think would make for an interesting double feature with The Neon Demon?
NWR: All About Eve.