Q&A with “Two Step” director Alex R. Johnson
Alex R. Johnson’s Texas thriller Two Step plays tonight at 8:30pm at the Rep. I asked the director about the film, his debut feature, which is also playing this week at Cannes. Catch it again Saturday at 3:30pm!
What is a one-sentence synopsis of Two Step?
Alex Johnson: “Two Step” is a slow-burn Texas thriller in which the lives of James, a directionless college dropout, and Webb, a career criminal with his back against the wall, violently collide.
What drew you to this story? Why was it important to you to make this film?
AJ: I didn’t write the film till I moved to Austin about 1 1/2 years ago but I had been holding onto the idea of doing something with “the grandparent scam” – that’s the con Webb is doing in the film – for a long, long time. Something about Texas – and Austin specifically – got my wheels turning with it. I wrote it pretty quickly. We premiered it at SXSW almost exactly a year after I started writing it.
What was your biggest challenge?
AJ: Besides the usuals, budget and time (we shot it in 17 days), etc. it was trying to balance the humanity and the violence. The film starts as this character piece and then it shifts gears into this very tense and somewhat violent thriller. But we did that on purpose – I wanted you to really care for these characters before the stakes elevate. I was pretty selective about what we showed and how we showed it. It’s a difficult balance but I think we pulled it off.
What do you hope audiences will leave the film talking about?
AJ: I’m incredibly proud of the performances. James Landry Hebert, Beth Broderick, Skyy Moore, Jason Douglas, Ashley Rae Spillers – they just killed it. So proud of what they did. Also Andrew Kenny’s (American Analog Set, The Wooden Birds) score. It does so much to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Have you been to Little Rock or LRFF before? What are you looking forward to?
AJ: Never! I’m excited. I’ve only heard amazing things from other filmmakers. Looking forward to the Clinton Library tour and mostly to meeting film fans and filmmakers from here and from afar. That’s the best part of any film festival.
By Cameron Zohoori