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Interview: David Cross on 'Hits,' millennials and his unusual Kickstarter campaign

The "Arrested Development" and "Mr. Show" star says he didn't want a typical tiny indie release for his directorial debut.

David Cross’ directorial debut, “Hits,” is coming to a theater maybe near you, and that’s odd. It’s an independent film, and independent films these days rarely get much of a theatrical release, if they get any at all. VOD is the new thing, and for small films sometimes the only thing. But the “Arrested Development” and “Mr. Show” star didn’t want that, so he started a Kickstarter campaign to have people bring it to their towns or cities, then have them pay whatever they’d like. (Of course, it will also be on VOD, as well as in theaters in New York and Los Angeles.) When audiences see it, they’ll see a dark comedy about Dave, a hotheaded Upstate New Yorker (Matt Walsh) who becomes an unlikely Internet celebrity after being exploited by Brooklyn hipsters and his own wannabe-singer daughter (Meredith Hanger).

The film is pretty savage about Brooklyn hipsters.

Before I lived [in NYC], I was in L.A., and I spent all my time in Silver Lake. That’s kind of the equivalent of Williamsburg. And then when I was in London I was in Shoreditch, which is also a hipster center. So I can’t escape these people.

Do you think Brooklyn is too doomed to be saved from their gentrification?

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Doomed might be a bit hyperbolic. But it’s not going away. You look at DUMBO, they’re building a big playground for rich white people. But I don’t see it overall as a bad thing. It’s just the individual components can be irritating. There’s this idea that they walk around thinking they’re unique, but they choose to live amongst themselves, so they’re not unique at all.

The film is outraged by three groups: There’s the hipsters, millennials and the old Red State hotheads.

Dave is an amalgamation of a bunch of different people. There’s a line the weed dealer [played by Michael Cera] says: “Just Google ‘crazy motherf—ers at a town meeting.’” That’s a real thing. I just Googled that and got a f—ing treasure trove of those people in some form of mental incapacity. A lot of what he says is taken directly from various YouTube clips of people ranting.

At least the way Walsh plays Dave, there’s something sad and sympathetic about him. He’s misguided, not evil.

I sympathize with him. I just feel he’s a little off and he’s easily manipulated and he’s very susceptible. He watches Fox News and listens to Alex Jones on the radio. If you look on his desk there’s a lot of libertarian s—. There’s a “rape of the taxpayer” sticker, there’s Neal Boortz books, there’s even “The Turner Diaries” on another table. That’s where he gets his information from. He’s a step away from being a “chemtrails” guy. I grew up in Roswell, Georgia before I came to liberal-progressive cities. My family is still in Atlanta. I know that guy very well — very, very well. I have sympathy for his situation.

You are equally savage about the young.

But I’m also very aware of the things that were said about my generation. I grew up when the advent of video games started. That’s all people would talk about — how it’s ruining culture, about people sitting in front of the TV and how they’re escaping reality by playing video games. That’s a bunch of nonsense, obviously. I’m very aware that every generation belittles the generation after it. I think we can all agree that the Baby Boomers were the worst generation in the history of mankind. That said, the things that are bothersome [about millennials] are bothersome for a real, tangible reason. But again, it’s just human nature to look at the current generation and say, “Oh, these kids today.”

Do you think a lot of the think pieces excoriating millennials are at least a bit overblown?

I think we’ll find that they’re overblown. Now it feels fresh and it feels urgent and present, but 20 years from now when we’re reading back on these hyperventilating blog posts about millennials and how awful they are, they’re just going to seem comical. If you went back to 1982 and looked at columns about the evils of video games or punk rock, or the same way in the ’90s how hip-hop was going to ruin everything — they seem overblown and ridiculous. There will be a semblance of that with this generation.

One of the most notable things about “Hits” is the way it’s being released. How did that come about?

We got some offers after Sundance, and they were just the same offers that any indie film would get: Play L.A. and New York for a week, then maybe Chicago and maybe Seattle, maybe Boston. Then it goes straight to VOD and iTunes. That was not something I was happy with as a filmmaker. A lot of us worked very hard on it for little money, and the whole intent is so you can see it. And the ideal way to watch a movie is in the theater. Because the Kickstarter campaign was successful, we’re going to 50-some theaters. I’d say roughly 45 of them it would never play in, ever. Some towns I’ve never even heard of, and I travel pretty constantly. It’s playing in these smaller towns in a theater, and it’s pay-what-you-want, because the Kickstarter thing supplemented that. I don’t to charge $15 to $20, especially after someone contributed $50 to bring it to their town. It’s a way for people to see the movie.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge
 
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