Todd Stevens (Gypsy 83)
By Rev. Daryl Litts
Gypsy 83 is the tale of two goth
misfits: Gypsy (Sara Rue, Less Than Perfect), an overweight girl
obsessed with Stevie Nicks and Clive (Kett Turton, Kingdom Hospital), a
gay virgin as inexperienced in life as he is in sexuality. They flee their
cultural persecution in small-town Ohio to the ultimate destination of
acceptance: New York. Yet there are hardships along the way that only echo the
disappointment left behind and foreshadow the ones that lie ahead. Karen Black
(House of 1,000 Corpses), John Doe (of the old-school punk band X), and
Paulo Costanzo (Road Trip) add strong personalities to the characters
sketched within the story. This modern tragedy by Todd Stephens unfolds in a
John Waters-esque Wizard of Oz fashion, but the story is not by
Goths for Goths and makes no attempt to pigeonhole its audience. Gypsy
83 offers a sad-but-true depiction of reality as seen through the eyes of
people that society deems unfit, making it a relatable film for anyone who
feels like they dont belong to the most horrible clique of all:
normal. Todd Stephens, creator and director of Gypsy 83
answered a few questions about the movie:
Daryl Litts: How much of Gypsy 83 was based on
Todd Stephens: Like Clive and Gypsy, I grew up in a
small town in Ohio, felt like a freak there, and escaped to New York City to
find my place in the world. So there is a lot of me in both of them.
DL: Sara Rue and Kett Turton really shocked me with
their roles; they really seemed to understand their characters and where they
were coming from
How did they prepare for the roles?
TS: We spent a lot of time at Click and Drag, which
was a (sadly gone) night here in NYC at Mother. That's where Kett perfected his
goth dancing skills. We also listened to a lot of my old Cure records. I had
forgotten how amazing they are, and how good they still sound.
DL: As the writer and director you put a lot of
yourself into the film and characters. Is it ever strange to see your personal
creations come to life through the creativity of others?
TS: It was very strange when I made my first film,
Edge of Seventeen. In fact, it was so strange that I decided I couldn't
continue to direct the movie. Since the story was completely autobiographical,
I was trying to recreate reality right down to my nasty brown polyester
fast-food uniform. But the lesson I learned is that you can't bring the past to
life verbatim. On Gypsy, I learned to let go and let all my
collaborators bring their own magic.
DL: Did Sara or Kett bring anything to Gypsy or Clive
that you hadnt envisioned while writing the script?
TS: Absolutely they both blew me away on a
daily basis! The fact that Sara is such an amazing singer was such an
unexpected bonus watching her sing the final song at the end (Voice So
Sweet) literally had me in tears. And Kett brought a sweetness and
vulnerability that I didn't expect. It's like you want to bring him home and
DL: Obviously the goth scene is a small pigeonhole in
our culture. Was alienation of a broader audience ever a consideration or a
TS: Not at the time, but it has proved to be a bit of
a marketing challenge. The film is a love letter to people on the fringes of
society and I really hope the letter doesn't get lost in the mail.
DL: As a music fiend, it must have been hard to
narrow the decision on which tracks to use in the soundtrack
TS: I would have liked to have had a Siouxie song in
there, but it turned out to be too expensive. Same with the track Killing
Moon by Echo and the Bunnymen. But I was estatic that The Cure let us use
two amazing songs!
DL: I heard youre working on an album with
Karen Black based on her character in Gypsy 83
TS: Karen and I recorded a few deliciously loungy
songs that appear in the film (and on the soundtrack album from Metropolis
Records). They turned out so well that I had the idea of doing an entire album
as the fictional character from the film Bambi LeBleu. So look for
The Best of Bambi sometime next year!
DL: I know Gypsy 83 is the second part of your
"Ohio" trilogy. How well does it relate to the previous Edge of
Seventeen, and where do you plan to take the trilogy on the next
TS: Gypsy is sort of a thematic continuation
of Edge and both are set in my hometown of Sandusky, Ohio. In
Edge the lead character was stuck in Ohio, and in Gypsy they
actually get out. Several actors from Edge appear in Gypsy and
many of the same crew were involved as well. The third film in the trilogy is
the story of how I went back to Ohio to make film my life story and almost lost
my mind in the process. Right now I am calling it Home.
DL: For all those new to your work, where can your
films be viewed and when will they be available on DVD?
TS: I think you can rent Edge at most
Blockbusters. Or find it on Amazon.com or Netflix.
Click to Buy!