Harmony Korine & Humberto Leon Talk ‘Spring Breakers’
Humberto Leon was so smitten with Harmony Korine’s new film Spring Breakers that he and his Opening Ceremony partner, Carol Lim, designed a collection dedicated to the project. Recently Humberto and Harmony caught up in New York to chat about the film – where it came from, the concept of ‘Spring Break’, the annual mayhem in Florida etc. – and touch on Opening Ceremony’s collection. Check out an extract from their conversation below and read the whole story here.
Where did the idea for the film begin? Are you obsessed with spring break? I’m obsessed with the idea of spring break and have tried to go to as many of those spots as possible!
Oh really? So you used to go to Florida a lot?
Yeah. But I was always nervous, being a gay man in that super hetero world.
But now it’s different. When I was a kid it was much more of a white, macho thing. When I went to Florida to write the script a few years back, I was surprised at how culturally and ethnically diverse it was.
Had you visited a lot of spring break spots before writing the script?
No, I grew up in Nashville and it was something that everybody did but I was into skateboarding and was trying to get away from that scene and all those kids I went to school with. It was only a couple of years ago that I began to look at it differently.
Before I started writing the script, I was collecting all this spring break imagery—these pictures of adolescent debauchery. I would take the images from strange websites, fraternity message boards, party websites, co-ed pornography sites and, at the time, I was using the images for my artwork. I thought the images were really interesting. They were hypersexual and hyper-violent but had childlike details within them—like the little socks that the girls wore, the neon bathing suits, the pink nail polish, the Hello Kitty backpacks, the Mountain Dew bottles, and the puke on the bunk beds. It was as though the images were in a coded language and I thought it was an interesting backdrop and a metaphor for what came to be later.
A lot of the girls who go on spring break are in their first years of college. It’s that weird moment when girls are becoming women. I think you depict this transition very interestingly, especially with your choice of casting…. Did you write the script with Vanessa, Selena, Ashley, and Rachel in mind?
Yeah, I liked the idea of working with girls who were also representative of pop culture and its mythology. They have a connection to that world and I thought it layered another meaning onto the film. I love the idea of their fans being introduced to this film.
Did their approach to the film and the roles surprise you?
The whole thing was a surprise. I still look at the movie and I can’t believe it exists the way it does. I live pretty far away from that reality, so just the fact that they were interested in doing this film and that they wanted to go to these extremes and much more graphic places was a surprise. I didn’t have to do any convincing, they were game from the very beginning. Once I explained to them that were no such things as mistakes, they just went for it. And in the film they’re almost like characters out of a video game. I used to say they were at this intersection between gangster-ism and mysticism. There was no difference between playing, watching, and doing. They were like these hyper-accelerated, extreme characters.
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