‘Choke’ director Clark Gregg fights for first film

Clark Gregg, director of the recently released film “Choke,” recently sat down with The Beacon for an interview where he discussed the film, acting and his future plans.
The Beacon: How did you get started on this project?
Clark Gregg: I was hired at first to adapt the book into a script. I wanted to do this project because I loved the book and the movie “Fight Club.” I made all kinds of stalker-like phone calls to the producers saying that I wanted to direct this movie. They asked if I had ever directed a movie before. I said no but I wanted to do it anyway. Seven years later, I managed to pull it off.
TB: Were there any major deviations from the book?
CG: A million little deviations. The movie is basically a compressed version of the novel. There was a voiceover but it was just distancing in a movie.
The reason is that you are watching someone watching himself as opposed to kind of jumping with them in their dream more or less. There are a bunch of different sex addicts in the book that hook up with the main character and they all became one character. There are also a couple of scenes that I shot even with our budget or within the physical world of the movie that did not work.
TB: You play the main character’s boss in the movie. What are the demands as a director when you have to direct yourself and others in a scene?
CG: I usually did not have to force myself to watch a performance of mine as much as in this movie. I was a jackass to cast myself as the jackass for that reason. When I was on the set shooting my scenes, there were some producers I trust would tell me if I needed another take for my scenes in the movie.
TB: Following your first directorial feature, would you want to direct again?
CG: Absolutely. It was really stressful to get there but it was great when I had the actors of that caliber acting with the script and making the scenes work in the steamy and disease-ridden mental asylum. It was as much fun as you can imagine and to the actors, seeing people laughing at a dirty joke that tends to clear a room was a pretty good feeling.
TB: How do you feel about working with Sam Rockwell, not only as an actor but also as a director?
CG: When you are [working] with actors you [have] worked with before, it is a big responsibility. I was lucky because Sam is a great person and from day one, he liked the script so much that he dove headfirst into the project. When everyone else comes on the set and sees the lead actor treating you like you know what you are talking about, they tend to follow suit until they think otherwise.
TB: Do you feel pressured to create a cult classic like Palahniuk’s last book, “Fight Club?”
CG: I welcome it because Chuck’s fans are really smart and they know this is a different kind of story made in a different way. I also believe that what is so unique and ballsy about Chuck as a writer holds true in both different pieces.
TB: What would you want audiences to take away from this movie?
CG: I would want the audience to walk out of the film feeling the way they would feel after a successful date: a little giddy, confused and dirty.

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