Section: Film
Title: Knuckleface Jones
Director: Todd Rohal
Importance: A truly different movie.
Knuckleface Jones

This is the touching story of ... I'm not really sure.

12 Questions and a lightning round with Todd Rohal

Let's talk about the movie "Knuckleface Jones." What inspired you to make this movie?
I had made a few films prior to this that weren't as satisfying to watch. They didn't have much energy, which was intentional in a way, but it made for lousy repeat viewings. I had this feeling that I wasn't going to be able to make another film, so I decided to make something that I'd want to watch over and over again...which meant plot was the first thing to go...I didn't want anyone to know where this movie was coming from or where it was going to. If I spent time plotting a storyline, someone would figure out where it was going before the movie's 10 or 15 minutes were up, so I used the time to create things I had never seen before on screen and that I thought would be funny....then I figured out how they fit together. There's actually more structure in Knuckleface Jones than I had originally planned...I was actually afraid people would complain that there's too much story in it..but no one has said that yet.

Where was this movie shot?
We shot Knuckleface Jones in and around Athens, Ohio in the Spring of 1998. It was a fun shoot, but now I don't remember much of it.

When you're pitching this movie to people (e.g. actors, financial types, etc.) how do you explain this movie so they get excited about it?
I didn't have to pitch the movie to many people before we made it. I got a bit of a grant from the Princess Grace Foundation, and if they ever saw what I did with it, they'd probably ask for their money back. Otherwise, I've never really tried to get anyone excited about it. I figure that if someone sees an image from it, or reads the title and description (I did not write the one on atomfilms, by the way) they'll know they're not walking into an NYU drama about children with cancer. Of all my favorite films, I think I found them without a huge amount of hype...these great discoveries. It sort of makes it better that way.

Are you a guy who's normal on the outside and crazy on the inside, or are you just crazy all over?
It depends. I'm normal, but I throw things around the house a lot.

Who do you relate to the most in this movie?
The boy scouts. We used to burn everything we found. I think it's a bit of a dream when you're a kid to find an adult tied up in the woods and to beat him with sticks.

The funniest part of the movie for me, is seeing the rapping guys in their underwear. Was it tough casting for these parts?
No. It was cast before I wrote it. The lead guy is the funniest guy I know, and used to be one of the most dedicated--he'd do anything. The guy on the right said he'd do it if he got to kiss the lead actor. The guy on the left was the Assistant Cameraman, who filled in when another actor's car broke down and didn't show up in time. He didn't even need wardrobe, those were his own tighty-whities.

I have never seen a film on the web polarize people like this one has. Either they love it or they hate it. What has been some of the nicest and some of the meanest things you've read about this movie?
Oh, they're all so good. I wish some folks could be more creative, though. "I'm gonna kill you if I ever meet you," "You suck at everything you do," "I hate you and I hate your dreams." Are some of my favorite personal emails that I've received. Some of the nicer things have come from some reviewers and people at film festivals. The best feeling was having the Johns Hopkins Film Festival show it 4 or 5 times in a weekend, and having people come back to see it, then leaving before the feature started.

Do the mean things bother you?
No, I just wish they were more creative. The reviewer for Film Threat did an awful review of it right before Slamdance. He criticized it for not having a plot, and then summarized the plot. Then he wrote these incredibly nice quotes about the acting and my directing, but called it unwatchable and useless. I saw him in Park City. He was eating a sandwich with shit and boogers in it and talking about how great it tasted. It's tough to tell where reviewers are coming from, and I don't think they always understand what it is they're supposed to review.

How did you get Piper Perabo to be in the film?
I asked her if she'd be in it and she said yes. I didn't pay her anything and she supplied her own shoes.
How did you get the chance to ask Piper Perabo to be in the movie? Was she hanging out at Coyote Ugly and you sauntered in with your best 10 gallon penis and say, "Yo, you wanna be in my film?"
Piper was in another film I did before Knuckleface Jones called "Single Spaced" it's on ifilm.com. We went to school together in Ohio where we worked together at the car wash.

What's coming up next for you?
I just finished shooting a short called "Hillbilly Robot," which has a lot of good stuff in it...a Bulgarian dancer, a troop of Brownies, a breakdancing sequence and a dead racoon. I also complied over 4 hours of shorts - all made in Ohio - onto a DVD that'll we'll be selling cheaply on our website (www.comeandgetitfilms.com) it's a huge assortment of original stuff. Not one film is based on a Raymond Carver short story.

What did I forget to ask you?
"What was that?" "What just happened?" "What's up with those guys in their underwear?" "What the hell did I just watch?" - all questions from the atomfilm viewers, I don't think I can answer any of them right now.

Ready for the Lighting Round? Yes
Favorite Sound? Ben Affleck getting his throat cut open
Favorite Word? Sandbox
Favorite Taste? A meaty belch
Favorite Piece of clothing? My tighty-whities.
Dinette Set or Trip to Europe? I guess the Dinette set, please.
Ability to Fly or to Turn Invisible? Sure, you mean instead of the Dinette Set?

See the Movie Knuckleface Jones on atomfilms.com