The movie poster for ‘Scumbag,’ a film by Mars Roberge.
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with director Mars Roberge about his upcoming film, Scumbag. Our more cinematically inclined Dangerous Minds readers may recall that Roberge produced and directed the highly accoladed 2013 documentary on fashion designer/stylist/retailer Patricia Field The Little House that Could. Roberge spend a decade of his life working in Field’s New York boutique and the film was praised by the LGBTQ community for the attention it drew to the safe haven Field cultivated for club kids, drag queens, transsexuals, teens and twenty-somethings who were trying to figure who they really were.
Scumbag has a 200+ member cast—most of them culled from the vast world of punk rock and counterculture creatives that Roberge brought together for the film. Among them are Angelo Moore of Fishbone, Kid Congo Powers (Gun Club and The Cramps), underground filmmaker Nick Zedd and other members from bands like Dead Kennedys, Crass, D Generation (our own Howie Pyro) and the Germs, just to name a few. Reflective of his own life experiences, Scumbag tells the tale of a DJ whose day gig has him cavorting with drug addicts, mental patients, ex-cons and murderers. Which makes it sound precisely like the kind of film readers of Dangerous Minds will dig. I spoke with Roberge over email last week about Scumbag.
You’ve been a DJ for much of your life and the main character in Scumbag is a DJ. How much of your life story is told in the film?
Mars Roberge: 99% of it. Let’s just say I never smoked crack but pretty much everything else happened. All the actors look like the actual people except Princess Frank (the musician who plays the lead character of “Phil” in Scumbag) doesn’t look like me. When people ask why I chose him it’s because he’s cool and is living my old life. I think he was the first guy I ever met in LA, he performed at a Red Zebra club kid party. Seconds afterwards invited me and my ex-wife to an orgy at his house. We didn’t go but he did leave such an impression on me that I immediately thought of him when I needed the main star. He did great job too. Note to all actors out there: if you want a lead role, invite directors to orgies.
I understand Ron Jeremy basically showed up on the set and ended up getting an impromptu role in Scumbag that you came up with on the fly. As this kind of stuff never happens to me, I must know more about this seemingly random event.
Mars Roberge: There was an actor who will remain nameless who tried to blackmail me, so I fired him and had to reshoot 2/3 of the movie. The same guy called Ron to my set in Burbank at three in the morning. I’m sure he was doing it just to impress the girls but in either case, here I am with Ron walking around. Of course with all the selfies going off, it was pushing our production back a few hours where I had to say “you’re either in the film or not,” and he did it.
Dangerous Minds: You’ve managed to assemble a pretty fantastic cast that includes members of punk and counterculture heroes. You also had Jim Sclavunos (Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds/Grinderman collaborator) contribute to the soundtrack. How big of a role does music play in Scumbag?
Mars Roberge: For me, as a filmmaker, DJ, and ex-guitarist from several bands, music plays EVERYTHING for me. I usually have the entire soundtrack picked out before I even start making the movie because all my scenes are influenced by certain songs. I laugh (in my head) when a million people approach me to give me music or want to be my composer because I’m like, I spent 26 years of my life as a DJ where music is everything to me, that I know what I want long before the filming happens. There are scenes in the movie that I had to break straight out into music videos. This caused some tension with a couple crew members who were like “you can’t do that, it’s not a musical.” Which led me to invent a new genre which I call “Rocktopia” just so I could do what I want. I figured if you can’t beat them, start a revolution.
More after the jump…