PUNK GLOBE:Tell us about yourself, so as far as I know you are from Canada. You went to New York right after High School?
Mars Roberge:I grew up in Scarborough which is kind of like the ghetto of Canada right outside of Toronto. I graduated from York University in 1995 and then went up to New York. I became a D.J. at the Limelight and all these other clubs, was in some bands and just sort of got wasted for 25 years. I actually played in a punk band called Blowtop for a few years and played at CBGB's several times. So jump ahead from that about 25 years, I ended up getting married and moved to California, got divorced and wondered what I was doing here. I ended putting together all this footage I had of the "Sex in the City" stylist Patricia Field from over seven years which ended up becoming "The Little House That Could." So now I'm making a movie about the 90's and living in Toronto and what was going on there at that time.
PUNK GLOBE:How far along are you with this new project?
Mars Roberge:Crewed up and casted 95 percent of it and we start shooting in New York on January 25th, so we plan to start shooting in New York the end of January and come back and finish shooting in LA in February.
PUNK GLOBE:The cast is all sorted then?
Mars Roberge:There are still some spots we are filling but if you go to the website the cast members that are listed are going to be in the film.
PUNK GLOBE:I was reading the synopsis on the http://www.scumbag-movie.com/ site and it struck me that this movie centers in on a person who works at a call center. I know there were basically 2 kinds of jobs people had back in my youth, you either worked in a weird crappy office on the phone or in the food industry, bars included.
Mars Roberge:Yep this is about that job, and beyond that we would be guinea pigs for a pharmaceutical company on our lunch hour for extra beer money.
PUNK GLOBE:Pharmaceutical test subject is a whole way of life in Austin because of Pharmco and I know I have several friends in San Francisco who made a living through that particular venue. Do you touch on that in the movie?
Mars Roberge:Yeah, there is a scene dedicated to that.
PUNK GLOBE:I hate to admit that I have not seen "The Little House That Could" I have been dying too.
Mars Roberge:It's playing in LA, Toronto and New York in December.
PUNK GLOBE:I heard it playing in Japan?
Mars Roberge:It was a show at the Ars Gallery at a Keith Haring exhibit because he is covered in "The Little House That Could" Patricia kind of gave him his start by showing his art in the window's at the store and selling his tee-shirts. So the film has been incorporated into a touring show of his works.
PUNK GLOBE:How long did you work at the store for her?
Mars Roberge:I was there for ten years.
PUNK GLOBE:Any popular artists now that were showing in the shop while you worked there?
Mars Roberge:It was always a big mystery because she knew so many artists that you never knew exactly what was there. One of the dressing rooms had a print of Astroboy in it and we would all hang our clothes on it, later on we found out that it was an extremely rare print by Andy Warhol that anybody could have just lifted. She would find these graffiti artists like De La Vega who is big in Spanish Harlem; she had him paint the store.
"One of the dressing rooms had a print of Astroboy in it and we would all hang our clothes on it, later on we found out that it was an extremely rare print by Andy Warhol that anybody could have just lifted."
PUNK GLOBE:Do you have a distributor for "The Little House That Could" yet?
Mars Roberge:I currently don't but am talking to some people about it, for the longest time even the cast couldn't even get a copy of it, we are working on that.
PUNK GLOBE:I love the look of the club kids, when we would go up to New York the punk rock kids would often frown upon my "eccentric" style but at the dance clubs they wouldn't even look at you twice.
Mars Roberge:I was a Goth kid in Toronto forever, and we had our club and the Techno kids had theirs and we never thought of going to the other. I went to New York and met Keoki and he said "hey come and D.J. with me," and I was basically D.J.ng S and M parties. I thought, wow you do dance music and you want me to come and do my thing and it was really cool. It was great nobody was getting judged on how they looked. It was just accepted that you were what you were, vampire, and dandy whatever.
PUNK GLOBE:I think that the general acceptance that is offered in the underground movements be it rave, goth or punk rock saved a lot of kids who otherwise didn't really feel that they fit in anywhere else.
Mars Roberge:That is shown a lot in that film.
PUNK GLOBE:I was looking at the cast page on the movie website and you have a pretty extraordinary cast including Mr. Nick Zedd. Is he back in the United States now?
Mars Roberge:No he is still in Mexico City so I am debating over whether to fly him in to New York or LA, I am currently trying to figure that one out. I knew him from New York and he married a friend of mine.
PUNK GLOBE:You also have Alexis Arquette, who I have been a fan of since "Last Exit to Brooklyn" have you seen that film?
Mars Roberge:I'm the guy who makes movies but doesn't watch them so I hate to say no.
"I'm the guy who makes movies but doesn't watch them so I hate to say no."
PUNK GLOBE:Well it's said that if you are an artist you shouldn't over inundate yourself with the works of others so that your idea's stay original and your own.
Mars Roberge:I would have to agree, if I was going to make a film about gangsters I wouldn't watch films about it I would find some to hang out with so I would have something to write about.
PUNK GLOBE:The script for the new movie is based on life experiences?
Mars Roberge:Yes it's based loosely on a Telemarketing company in Toronto called the Office Supply Center which was brought down by the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) which is basically like the FBI up there, back in the 90's for fraud. It's about what happens to this kid who works there for about a 2 week time period, he loses his sanity, falls into addiction, his relationship falls apart, he gets beat up every day, he becomes a witness to things he shouldn't see all for going to this job he needed. Most of the people there wish they were in jail or killed simply because they wouldn't have to go to this job anymore. Some very shady characters worked at this place.
PUNK GLOBE:I know that's true, one of my first jobs was at a call center and there were some very odd people who worked there. It's a writers dream job I have all of these characters tucked away in my mind for future endeavors. I know you have worked on short films and music video's previously, do you think that with age the confidence has finally come about to undertake this.
Mars Roberge:Most of my previous films go back to 90's while I was at film school I was about 15 years of D.J.ng and playing in bands. There was this film festival in Toronto called "On the Fly" you had to made up, shoot and edit a film all in one day so I shot a autobiographical piece called "Life on Mars." People thought it was really funny but I was so miserable at the time I thought is might end up with me hanging myself in the movie theater. It made me realize at the least I wanted to make films on all these different lives I've had. Patricia Field was one life, the telemarketing was another life I've got about 6 different lives that I feel I need tell and there may be more.
PUNK GLOBE:That's a great way to look at it, each and every one of us have different lives to tell the story of. For me it's writing, for you its film, others it's music or painting even politics, every person is just a story waiting to happen regardless of how it's told.
Mars Roberge:Everyone can make a film now, post it on you tube and there may be one that is a lot better but it just happens that one person has a million friends and the other doesn't so the lesser quality one is the one everyone see's due to the sheer numbers. I'm thankful for film festival's, it's a way of weeding out the good from the bad. You couldn't afford to make the mistakes back before modern technology, today you can do all your editing at home which makes it affordable and accessible to everyone
PUNK GLOBE:Do you feel that age and life experiences have made you more confident?
Mars Roberge:I feel more confident in general, especially living here and LA where everything seems to be picture perfect, I used to want to be a popular musician or D.J. and that image of the pot bellied baseball hat wearing director type was for older people. I'm now at the age where I can accept that and it doesn't seem bad comparatively to the dreams I used to have. I've been sober for 14 years now and I don't have those feelings of wanting to end it all if something doesn't work out exactly like I planned it. I am far more likely to get hurt doing my research than by myself. Now though I do get that feeling of needing to make up for lost time. I should have 10 movies out by now, I have all the idea's and scripts in my head it's just a matter of doing it.
PUNK GLOBE:So this lost time has figured into your work ethic and ways you go about doing things?
Mars Roberge:I think the fact that I always have had music in my life and around me has leaned me towards using musicians and real people in my projects rather than trying to get that recognizable actor. There is something magic about having real people rather than a seasoned actor. I think a lot about that movie "What About Me" with Johnny Thunders (directed by Rachel Amodeo) it's not the best acting but it's really endearing because it seems so real.
PUNK GLOBE:That movie in particular really plays like a snapshot of New York City at the time. It has the real people and real settings and it's sort of like watching someone filming the days of this sad story of a girl you feel like you might know.
Mars Roberge:Those are the kind of films that have always been my favorite, the kind you watch and you feel like you are watching the life of the people who made it. Sure I like the ‘Wizard of Oz' it's a great film but it's not like you are learning anything about the person who made it. That is what is so great about memories, I can go back in time to the 80's and 90's and it's like I'm there. It's like a meditation of sorts because not all of those people are accessible anymore. Some have died, some have changed but in my head they are all still there. It's like fighting time, I can bring it back and make it happen by making a movie about it. It's not there is anything going on right now that is blowing my mind and I'm not a science fiction guy so I can't create the future so I just write about what's happened and what I remember.
PUNK GLOBE:As you said there are so many of us who aren't around anymore, and the list is long, but we are the survivors so in making these stories an telling them we are helping to keep them alive in a way. So especially in a visual medium I imagine it's great to be able to look at your daily's and go that' exactly what it looked like in my head.
Mars Roberge:That's the problem when someone tries to throw a name actor at you and you're like but that person doesn't look like my friend.
PUNK GLOBE:Your first film "The Little House That Could" has been widely accepted and applauded by the LBGT community. That is a tough community to not only impress but be accepted by.
Mars Roberge:It's been wonderful, it was not only accepted at Frameline Film Festival but they made it their Friday night movie. So I feel that I did what I set out to do. I grew up surrounded by punk rock bands because of my sister, so for me entering into the gay world of working for Patricia seemed just as punk to me because it was as different for me at that age as the Dead Boys hanging out around my pool as a kid, it just sort of made sense. Now my sister helps people who suffer from addiction problems. (Patty Powers)
PUNK GLOBE:Have you ever thanked your sister for introducing you to this world of punk rock?
Mars Roberge:No but I guess I am through this article, she'll like that.
PUNK GLOBE:Well then thank you Patty Powers for introducing your brother into the acceptance of underground culture.
Mars Roberge:Yeah Stiv Bators was my babysitter in Toronto when I went swimming.
"Yeah Stiv Bators was my babysitter in Toronto when I went swimming."
PUNK GLOBE:So beyond the punk rock players you have in the movie there are some "Adult Film" stars as well.
Mars Roberge:I was so excited when Nina Hartley agreed to be in the film, she is great and just so nice and I was amazed that more people haven't asked her to be in their films. Aiden Star is the other, I've known her for years she used to help at the S and M parties I would D.J. in New York and she lives in LA now.
PUNK GLOBE:So what about your crew?
Mars Roberge:I am trying to build a crew or workers who are as dedicated to making a movie as I am. I want to be able to use the same crew on my next movie and the one after that as well.
PUNK GLOBE:Have you ever acted?
Mars Roberge:I took it in high school but it never became something I wanted to pursue.
PUNK GLOBE:Do you think that experience has helped you to relate what you want from your actors?
Mars Roberge:I hope so, I want the actors to feel comfortable and I want to be able to relate to and with them because otherwise I'm not doing MY job. I am the one who knows the story if I can't get it across to them it won't work especially since I am using a lot of musicians and non actors. They will be dependent on me to express what the feeling and motive they need to do their job.
PUNK GLOBE:There was a money raising campaign for the film which is over now but if people still want to contribute what should they do?
Mars Roberge:On the films website http://www.scumbag-movie.com/ there is a contact portion which they can use to contact me. Backers are appreciated and needed but this project is getting done regardless of how much we raise. If there is any new information it will be available on the website as well.
PUNK GLOBE:Thank you for talking to us and allowing us a glimpse into the making of the new movie "Scumbag" as well as sharing with us about the experience of "The Little House That Could."
Mars Roberge:Thank you!
Post Script:beyond the vast cast already in the picture I just received word the Spookey Ruben and Moby have both recently been cast as well, there is also a screening of "The Little House That Could" on January 10th at 8:30pm at New FilmMakers LA at the AT&T Center. So CHECK IT OUT! http://youtu.be/VSR0DDsThV8