While in Los Angeles, Norman Korpi, the first openly gay cast member of The Real World, and writer/director/star of The Wedding Video, found time to talk to Street about his feature debut. When did you get the idea to make this movie? I've always wanted to make a movie, and I had a couple of screenplays before this dealing with some of my experience on cable access, but when we got down to looking at money and budget, and people going, "What have you done before?" They're not going to give you a million bucks. I kept looking at what was my strongest asset, and I think for any good filmmaker, that's what they should do. What do you have that's going to get you noticed if this is your first project? Since The Real World kept getting stronger and stronger, and this was in 1995, that I started putting this together and writing screenplays, but it wasn't until '99 that we started to shoot. It took four years to build relationships with a lot of different Real World people. The show just kept running and running, and all these people kept getting more famous and more infamous and became celebrities themselves. They look like they were going to be the strongest component to get my work done and be this artist. When it came down to the idea, it was a budget thing, when I looked at what I had to shoot with -- which wasn't a lot of money -- I had to create an idea that could accommodate the money. At first we were going to do this horror film, a snuff film, and Puck was going to star in it, but it was too expensive, even being low budget. It wasn't until I was shooting Rachel and Sean's wedding that... it all just went haywire. I was like, "Wow, this would be a great way to capture all of this and make this movie happen." Was anything scripted at all? There was a basic storyline, which was reality, perception. The basic storyline was that Norm was never going to see any of this footage. And everyone has a duality in their character that they would act out. I scripted the whole story of how things would go. I wanted certain characters to react against other characters to produce tension. How did you choose cast members for the film? Originally, I was going to model it around a straight wedding. And there was another cast member from the Los Angeles cast who I can't stand -- she's horrible. I met her on the challenge the other year, we were just fighting. It was going to be like her wedding: big, crazy, blonde, over-the-top wedding that's fake and artificial. She backstabbed us and went off to sell a screenplay herself... we sent out wedding invitations to raise money for the film. We found that Heather was in New York, Rachel was in Wisconsin... We thought we'd travel there and get them on tape, then we found out that we had enough money to bring them in a few weeks later. The script would accommodate the change as things were moving along. Do you look at The Real World as a great experience, or do you not wish to have it attached to you? Unfortunately, I don't have the option of wishing, I need to deal with what I have on my plate. And I feel in order for me to take a step forward, I need to acknowledge where I came from. So for me to do this movie as the first movie of my career, it puts it out there and puts it behind me... At first I felt so overwhelmed and intimidated by the entire experience because it was so much larger than myself, and here you're really famous, but no one knows if you have any talent. I really felt like I needed to put myself out there and be critiqued. What's it like working the festival circuit? It's extremely difficult to get noticed, especially when your film is digital... If you can get in there and you're a digital film, you feel pretty fortunate. We didn't get into the Sundance festival... They came back and said there were eight thousand films submitted. And they're only selecting a hundred, and in our category they were only selecting twelve. I was like, "Holy cow, there are like eight thousand films, where do they go if they don't get into these film festivals?" Do you plan to do any more films? Heather was such a huge success story in our film. When we showed it in L.A., William Morris came over to see Heather... She's the breakout star in our film. If anyone in our film is going to go far as a performer, I think it's going to be Heather. Last summer, I was working on a screenplay with Heather. We're trying to get some visibility of this project and put together this rapper movie that I have written for Heather. The Wedding Video is playing at International House on Thursday, April 10 at 9:30, and debuts on video and DVD on May 27. There will be a post-screening party at Bump (13th and Locust Streets) after the film.


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