Don't sit there, do something

Stacy Title doesn't hang about. She directed 'The Last Supper' in just 18 days. And she talks as fast as she works.
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The Independent Culture
It would not be ungracious to call Stacy Title a fast woman. She has scripted and sold numerous blockbusters in the time it takes most people to feed a sheet of A4 into a printer. The prickly black comedy The Last Supper, her first film as a director, was completed in a mere 18 days (a snip at just $500,000). What's more, she can talk. I mean really talk - she could make an amphetamine addict seem catatonic. She doesn't just look like the late American comic Gilda Radner, she has Radner's joyful fizz about her, in those darting eyes and that restless tongue.

There's a lot of talk in The Last Supper, too. Food and politics and death, yes. But mostly talk. That's what happens when you put a bunch of self-righteous liberal graduates around a dinner table. These aren't just any self-righteous liberal graduates, however. These ones have a Bernhard Goetz tinge about them. They've had enough of sitting back and doing nothing, and decide to lure a succession of right-wingers home for dinner, in a unique meal 'n' murder package that you won't find at your local Harvester.

A short way into the film, you realise that Title is not exactly enamoured of political correctness.

"I hate PC!" she exclaims. "It's sushi socialism. Despite being fairly liberal myself, the one thing I didn't want to do with the movie was say 'liberalism is good, conservatism is bad'. It's not that simple. I wanted to take on everyone. I despise political correctness, and I hate that pause where people are forced to check themselves before they laugh."

But presumably you've felt the same impotence and frustration that drives your characters to kill?

"That was my college career," she shrugs. "Just sitting around, bitching and moaning. What the movie hopefully says is: do something, don't just sit there."

She stops, realising where she has arrived. "I mean, don't kill anyone, obviously. But do something."

As The Last Supper's ethical conundrum demonstrates, Title likes a challenge. As if the film's budget and schedule weren't enough, Title was also moving house while shooting, and gave birth to a son just seven months ago. You'd be forgiven for expecting someone more bullish - a Kate Adie out of LA not El Salvador - instead of this modest chatterbox.

So what about that 18-day shoot then, Stacy - pretty amazing, huh?

"Oh, it's do-able," she assures me. "I made sure the cast had rehearsed. They don't do that much on big-budget movies. They just show up on set and rehearse on film. What a waste! If you saw the dailies for any big- budget movie, you would vomit."

She knows what she's talking about. She's been loitering with intent on film sets since before she can remember, tagging along with her father, who produced commercials. Consequently, her childhood memories feature a different kind of dolly than most people her age. She saw Michael Cimino in action years before Heaven's Gate got Hollywood's door slammed in his face, and watched Tony and Ridley Scott cutting their teeth in the days before she had any herself. The experience shows. One film, one Oscar-nominated short (Down on the Waterfront) and a pile of screenplays later, she's already got the business figured out. Now if only someone would produce one of the screenplays she's written with her husband, the "sort- of-famous" actor and Last Supper star Jonathan Penner.

It's not as if there isn't plenty to choose from. There are expensive action movies, like Payback, the one they polished off in 10 days when they got back from their honeymoon, and which Columbia paid an obscene amount of money for (it was once set to star Jean-Claude Van Damme). There's a sitcom pilot too, called Sitcom: The Pilot, about two sitcom writers locked in a room. Very post-modern. And Title's pride and joy, a horror movie called Dread.

"People cry when they read it, but no one will let us make it," she complains. "It's really frustrating, selling all these scripts but none of them getting made. It's like your life's in limbo." That feeling may not last. Judging by the promise of The Last Supper, you can expect Dread, Sitcom: The Pilot and Payback - Van Damme-less or not - to be arriving at a screen near you soon.

n 'The Last Supper', reviewed overleaf, opens Friday