Regular Defamer readers are by now familiar with a certain indie drama whose progress we have been closely following, set to make its debut at the 2007 Sundance festival. What we've been referring to as the Untitled Dakota Fanning Rape Project—both for its preternaturally gifted and precocious star (Dakota Fanning), and the shocking yet Oscar-worthy act of violence at its center (her rape)—finally appears to have settled on a title: Hounddog. In an exclusive interview with Premiere magazine (it doesn't appear to be online yet, but an OhNoTheyDidn't reader was good enough to scan it in), director Deborah Kampmeier talks about her struggles since the details about her script were released to the press: Among other adjustments, she's had to hire someone just to "screen her hate mail"—a job most Hollywood agents traditionally refer to as "an assistant." She also opens up about the shooting of the actual rape:
"Exactly how I was going to film the rape scene was articulated quite specifically in the script, and her mother, her agent, and her teacher/child welfare worker were all present for the filming of the scene, which was carried out exactly as we discussed it. There was so much I had to hide [during filming]. I had to hid the fact that this girl is not naked. I had to hide the fact that there is not a boy on top of this girl having sex.
UPDATE: The movie may still be untitled. More after the jump.
One of the choices I made as a director is, I shot her face. I didn't shoot flesh against flesh, his leg touching her leg; I shot her face because I wanted to capture a soul going through this experience, not a body. The assumption that [Dakota] was violated in order to give this performance denies her talent."
Anyone who has seen Fanning's work in any of her breakthrough performances—from I Am Sam to War of the Worlds—knows that her talent is being able to convey boundless depth of mature emotion through the use of nothing more than her icy blue eyes. We're therefore confident that once word gets out that no actual actor-rapists were used in the sexual assault scenario, and that the convincing effect of the forceful taking of a minor was achieved with nothing more than Fanning's soul-deadened facial expressions paired with the repeated pressing of her own head sideways into a filthy pillowcase, that all of this controversy will give way to a cascade of accolades come next year's awards season.
UPDATE: An operative clears up the Hounddog title confusion (which the Premiere piece did mention wasn't yet secured):
The film was always called Hounddog. The script, the call sheets, everything was always labeled Hounddog, which is in reference to the main characters' obsession with Elvis. The name came into question and was changed to 'Untitled....' because the Producers never secured the rights to the Elvis music which is prominently featured in the script and the shoot. They might have resolved that issue since the shoot, but i've seen their budget and nowhere in it was money alotted for Elvis rights, which as im sure you know are helaciously expensive.
Of course, should the licensing rights to the Elvis material prove cost ineffective, last minute rewrites can always turn Fanning's character into a diehard Engelbert Humperdinck fan at a price that would fit well within their budgeting constraints.
- The Movie: Hounddog [OhNoTheyDidn't]
- Previously: Sundance Preview: The Untitled Dakota Fanning Rape Project [Defamer]