“I have a spa fetish, and this scene is based on a honey treatment I did at Liquidrom, an amazing coed naked spa in Berlin,” gushes Casey Spooner of today’s clip of Dust, the feature-length that he wrote and directed with his creative and romantic partner of 13 years, Adam Dugas. Spooner, frontman for electro-pop duo Fischerspooner, and Dugas, co-founder of performance troupe The Citizens Band, envisioned their debut film as a Skype-age re-telling of Chekov’s Three Sisters, with cohabiting dysfunctional siblings colluding and colliding as they wrestle with their individual dramas. The cast includes Ssion’s Cody Critcheloe, artist and photographer Jaimie Warren, and fashion designer Peggy Noland, plus Warhol superstar Holly Woodlawn as the family matriarch. “In the tradition of early John Waters and the films Warhol made at the Factory with Paul Morrissey, Dust defines its own era by reveling in and rolling around in the 21st century’s sadness, audacity and flashpoint laugh-out-loud directness,” says R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, who produced the tragi-comic collaborative effort. Based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where they live with their cats, a Douglas Coupland painting and a Dracula lithograph, Spooner and Dugas have previously helmed documentary portraits for ImagineFashion and contributed to The New York Times’ T Magazine. Premiering at Art Basel Miami 2014 this evening, their feature will be digitally streamed on multiple platforms powered through Dust.VHX.tv.
How did you come to cast superstar Holly Woodlawn?
Casey Spooner: I got a message on Facebook from Holly Woodlawn saying, “I love your work, will you be my friend?” Adam was like, “Oh my God, Holly should play the mother!”
Adam Dugas: She was in her apartment in West Hollywood as we filmed her. She never actually met any of the other actors. We were Skype communicating.
CS: She’s acting to a blank screen with voices coming out. It’s like Hollywood glamour via new digital technology. The new soft focus is digital break-up.
How did Michael Stipe get involved in the film?
CS: We knew the technical side of things but we had no connections to PR, financing, release, legal, distribution. We thought, “Who do we know who knows about the film business?” So we reached out to Michael. He was very discouraging when we first approached him. He was like, “Don’t go into the film business. It’s over, like the music business. Give up. Retreat.” We sent him a rough cut anyway.
AD: A couple of months later he came back to us saying, “Oh by the way, did I tell you that I finally saw your film? I think it’s amazing.” He said he really wanted to get involved.
You recently made the video Subliminal Alchemy for Modern Weekly China with photographer Asger Carlsen in advance of a new Fischerspooner album. You shot with a real snake, right?
CS: An Albino Burmese python named Banana that was 10 feet long. It was my brilliant idea. Cyril Duval, aka designer and artist Item Idem, asked if I wanted to do a shoot for them. The new album is very erotic and I sent through a bunch of Tumblr images as references, some pornography—basically all about the male form, and a lot of nudity. One of my references had this big snake. Cyril was like, “Let’s do the snake.” I had shot with a snake before for New York magazine and had a great experience. This snake had never been on set before and the handlers were inexperienced. So, I had kind of a grumpy snake experience.