October 3, 2006

‘Jimmy and Judy’ trumps ‘Romeo and Juliet’: Kentuckian Jon Schroder’s film is a graphic depicti

Directors Jon Schroder and Randall Rubin: discuss a scene on the set of “Jimmy and Judy.”“Jimmy and Judy” has been billed as a “twisted, f’d up teenage love story.” Believe it or not, that’s an understatement.The movie follows a couple of misunderstood teens as their fiery relationship boils over into an orgy of violence, drugs and … well, orgies. Edward Furlong (“Terminator 2,” “Pecker”) plays Jimmy, a teen who comes back from his first year of college with a shady past, diagnosed personality disorder and a trusty video camera (the entire film is meant to be the document captured by that camera). And Rachael Bella (“The Ring”) plays Judy, a vulnerable teen pariah emboldened by Jimmy’s attention. Small rebellions like drinking and sex give way to big rebellions like killing cops and stealing crank. Think of it as 1950s on-the-lam movie “They Live by Night” crossed with drug/horror flick “Requiem for a Dream,” then subtract four-fifths of the budget.It was written and directed by close friends Randall Rubin (from L.A.) and Jon Schroder of Florence, Ky. Schroder doesn’t seem like the type of guy who would make such a confrontational movie — he grew up in the suburbs, went to Catholic school, got a degree from EKU and worked for the Nickelodeon network. Not exactly the life experience of, say, Sam Fuller.But he and Rubin went on a writing retreat to off-season Long Island, and this ugly, transgressive script just came out. “I had just gotten really screwed over by a producer,” Schroder said in a recent interview with LEO. “I sat down and just started writing this angry piece. I was just pounding at the keyboard. It was like ‘The Shining.’”Although it was written to be a low-key shoot, somehow the money came together — mostly through family and friends. And then Furlong, Bella and veteran character actor William Sadler signed on, and they had a film that had far outgrown their original vision of a movie shot on a handheld camera and starring their friends.Still, they held onto the hometown locations that Schroder envisioned when he wrote the script. “Kentucky is a great place to shoot,” he gushed. “People just bent over backwards for us. And where else can you go from the ghetto to some remote farm Directors Jon Schroder and Randall Rubin: discuss a scene on the set of “Jimmy and Judy.”?” The cast had to adjust to more than just the location (many of the Angelinos were reluctant to venture into Kentucky). The script calls for just one camera — Jimmy’s — so some scenes can go on for 10 minutes, uninterrupted. Shooting a scene 10 times could mean 100 minutes of acting. And the lines had to be memorized, because there was very little improvisation. According to Schroder, Furlong memorized the entire script before the first day of shooting. The final product can at times be brilliant — especially technically — and at times, it can seem so exploitive and gratuitous. Two rape scenes? Being hit in the head with a sex toy? Eating road kill? Schroder sees it as a warning. “If you make these decisions, this could happen to you,” he explained.  And while not everybody buys into that, Schroder enjoys the controversy that he and Rubin have stirred up. “The target audience loves it more than I was prepared for,” Schroder admitted. “And people who hate it, hate it more than I was prepared for.” “Jimmy and Judy” starts Friday, Oct. 6, at the Baxter Avenue Theatres. Contact the writer at leo@leoweekly.com