Director Jeremy Saulnier Kills Hipsters, Feels Remorse

"This is the worst MisShapes ." Photo: Courtesy Lab of Madness

We’ve been to some stupefying artist parties in East Williamsburg, but we’ve never seen one like Jeremy Saulnier’s Murder Party. The premise: a hapless parking cop is lured to a warehouse off Meserole Street and prepped for ritualistic murder by a hipster artist collective competing for grant money from a morally dubious bisexual art dealer. (On second thought, maybe it’s not too far-fetched.) Saulnier’s directorial debut takes aim at the blathery, coked-up Billyburg art scene of the late nineties. His wickedly funny slasher flick has its New York premiere at the Rooftop Film Festival tomorrow. We asked this nice young man why he slaughtered his entire cast.

Was murdering a bunch of Williamsburg hipster artists some kind of wish fulfillment for you?
Not so much, actually. The day we shot everyone dying, which I thought would be an absolute blast — and it was! — the day after that, I was very depressed. After creating these characters and getting to know them a bit more, I found them very endearing, as idiotic and mean-spirited as they are. It was sort of like Stockholm syndrome. It got to me.

Is that because they’re like real people you know and are friends with?
Oh, every role was written for a friend of mine. We’re completely lampooning the scene, but it’s because we’re either current or former members of it.

So which of the idiotic characters are based on you?
I really identify with the scene when Alexander [the bisexual art dealer] comes into the warehouse, and his friends are pitching all these brilliant ideas — or at least creative ideas — on how they’re going to integrate this murder into “High Art.” After hearing all their pitches, he lights a cigarette and says, “No, we’re just going to stab him at midnight.” That’s kind of how I feel as a director.

So that’s pretty much your creative process?
Yeah, to piss on the parade of all my friends. To say, all of your ideas are fine, but we’re gonna just stab the guy at midnight.
—Jon Steinberg