The DIY director behind his mainstream debut and dirtying up his Disney-groomed stars
Spring break. Spring breeaaak. Spring breeeak, forever! For the film industry anti-hero, Harmony Korine's 2013 Mission: take on the mainstream. Korine cherry picked two Disney castoffs, still wet behind the mouse ears, to star alongside Emma Roberts, his wife, the ATL twins and James Franco in the April-released Spring Breakers. Roberts backed out of filming with Korine: "That was just – what do you call it? Creative differences. I make a specific type of film, and it goes hard. It's not always for everyone," he told NY Post. Bumps and bruises aside, Spring Breakers woke up its audience, a visual romp that saw its clinically clean stars awash with dirty minds and even dirtier motives; its real feat wasn't in introducing these teen queens to low brow culture, it was in introducing Harmony Korine's hard-hitting, limitless storytelling to an audience of millions.
"It was a really good year because a lot of things came out and Spring Breakers came out; the reaction was really good and the film seemed to have an impact and it was a fun year. You never really know anything, you never really know a reaction. I’m always wrong when I try and gauge reaction when it comes to my work so I gave up on that a while ago. I had a feeling that because of the subject matter and the actors involved and what I was trying to do with the storyline, I had a feeling that if it all worked it could be what it actually became, something that could potentially be awesome.
That sequence where James plays "Everytime" by Britney – I felt like that Britney Spears montage tapped into something that was kind of radical. And so, yeah, that seems to be maybe the one sequence that was a lot of people’s favorite. It was definitely planned out. I like her and I like the idea of her and I like that song and I think that she was kind of culturally representative. In some ways, I feel like she was a forbear to those girls, or a predecessor, a spiritual predecessor like, this kind of extreme pop angst and this pop pathology or something. There was something in that song that was connected to the story line I felt like, it was just more kind of a feeling.
I auditioned the three girls and they fit the part and it just seemed perfect. I was happily surprised that they wanted to do the film, that they were willing to go there. I liked the idea of those girls in someway being kind of culturally connected or representative of that kind of world and them also playing characters in it. They were hardcore, they worked for it.
“You never want to set limits on anything. You always want to have the biggest reach no matter what, the most radical work, reach the most people, that’s the best”
For (Spring Breakers) to work it needed it to work in a big way, you know what I mean? It needed to have that type of reach for it to really work conceptually, and then it needed to be fulfilled in that way. You never want to set limits on anything. You always want to have the biggest reach no matter what, the most radical work, reach the most people, that’s the best. I know I had this idea for a story and so I just made it. I never thought of like films or art as chess manoeuvres as trying to reach this audience or that audience, or do this or fit that slot – it’s never a way I approach anything. I just act on urges. I don’t question, I don’t think about it, I don’t really care. I just make movies and do things because I want to do them, that’s what I’ve done since I was 18. Some things reach a bigger audience, some things are barely seen. It’s all good to me, it’s all perfect, it’s all part of the same idea. It comes from the same place. It’s a unified vision. I’d say it was like a genius piece of pussy."