Eddie, the Sleepwalking Cannibal is the darkly humorous account of a
painter with a creative block who suddenly finds himself inspired by the
murderous adventures of a mute giant he's agreed to take care of in a small
Canadian village. The film stars Thure Lindhardt and has received glowing
reviews at several film festivals and screenings. Eddie's writer-
director Boris Rodriguez sat down with Blu-ray.com's Jeffrey Kauffman for this
Hi, Boris! It's great to be talking with you. I know you have a fairly
common surname, but I'd be remiss if I didn't ask you if you are related to
No, no blood ties, but I of course love his work and wouldn't mind being
compared to him.
Tell us a little bit about your background. Where are you from?
Well, I'm from Montreal, but my mom is Mexican and my Dad is Cuban so
I've lived all over.
Wow! So you've been to Cuba?
Oh, yes, I've been to Cuba quite a bit. My parents wanted me to
experience my cultural roots, and so they sent me to Cuba quite a bit
when I was a teen. It was at the height of the Cold War, so it was pretty
Oh, wow, you have to see it. It's a fantastic animated film that was
nominated for an Oscar a couple of years ago that traces the life of a
Cuban musician from the post-World War II era up through the present
day. It deals with that whole Afro-Cuban movement that exploded that
Dizzy Gillespie was involved in. The music is fantastic and the animation
style is incredible.
That sounds really cool, like something I should watch with my father.
What's your background in film? Did you go to film school?
Yes, I went to the Hoppenheim School of Cinema at Concordia University in
Montreal, and then to the Canadian Film Centre in Toronto, which is also
known as the Norman Jewison Film School.
Did you start making films right away?
Well, I did some shorts, but I like to say I got "lost" in the world of
television for a while.
What did you do?
I had a kind of crazy little niche where I would direct historical
reenactments for documentaries.
Like what's on The History Channel?
Yes, but this was in Canada, so nothing for History, but for lots of other
Canadian stations. And I also worked on some educational CD-ROMs, but
I always wanted to move into feature film directing. I kind of considered
this my "day job", and so when the chance to do Eddie came
along, I jumped at it.
Tell us where the idea for Eddie the Sleepwalking Cannibal
It was first pitched to me several years ago by my co-writer Jonathan
Rannells. It was quite different then. It was about a novelist, not a
painter, and it took place in North Carolina rather than Canada. It was
actually about a retarded werewolf at the time. Excuse me—did you say retarded werewolf?
Yes, a mentally challenged werewolf. But there were some problems with
that concept. If he were a writer and a werewolf, he could only write a
chapter every full moon, which left huge gaps in the timeline. So that had
some issues. Ultimately Jon Rannells moved to Los Angeles and I stayed
in Canada, but we finally figured out that it would be more colorful with an
artist and a sleepwalking cannibal. With cannibals, you don't have any
prescribed rules. With vampires or werewolves, there are already rules
you have to follow.
So did you write the screenplay?
No, Jon and I collaborated, though I was the last writer on the last draft.
Was it easy to find funding since you were a first time feature director?
Well, that's kind of a long and involved story. A lot of people we
approached wanted me to do it on a low, low budget, but I just didn't
want to shoot it for really cheap. I knew something like Eddie
would depend almost completely on the caliber of the performances, and
so I needed to be able to attract major talent to the project. It was
aesthetically unpleasing to me in any case to try to make the film too
cheaply, but I just knew I needed to be able to have top flight acting
So what happened?
Well the problem is that a lot of major Canadian talent tends to migrate
south to the U.S. and doesn't want to come back north for low budget
fare, so I decided to turn to Europe. And a Danish casting agent got me in
touch with Thure Lindhardt. We met in L.A., went out for dinner and got
drunk and he told me he wanted to do the film. With Thure on board,
there was a whole new level of interest, including from Danish investors as
well as German distributors. And so ultimately we were able to raise a
fairly nice budget for a first feature.
No, because that film debuted at almost the same time as Eddie
did. But when I did finally see it, I kept thinking, "That is not my
painter". It's just a testament to what a fine actor Thure is, he's able to
do these totally different roles and be completely convincing in all of them.
How long was the shoot?
Where did you shoot the film?
In and around Ottawa.
That begs the question—there are a bunch of nighttime scenes where
Eddie is running through the snow covered woods in nothing but his
underwear. Did you really shoot those scenes at night outside?
Yes, that's part of the "fun" of doing a low budget film. We did things we
really probably shouldn't have done, but Dylan [Dylan Scott Smith,
who plays Eddie] totally committed to the role and did it, despite the fact
that with wind chill we were probably looking at something close to -40
degrees. The cool thing is that to keep warm Dylan would exercise right
before takes, and so you see steam emanating off of his body in the film,
which is a really cool effect.
Eddie was shot digitally, right?
Right—with an Alexa.
Was this an aesthetic decision, or made for budgetary reasons?
Well, I would have preferred to have shot on film had it been financially
feasible, and I even considered doing this on 16mm. But without trying to
sound like an advertisement for Alexa, this is the first digital system that
I've really liked. It was made by film people for film people, and it
overcomes a lot of the limitations we've previously seen in digitally shot
features, including a much broader light spectrum.
One of the interesting things about the film is that it deals with an
artist overcoming "writer's block", but you never show the works of art he
finally is able to create. That was obviously an intentional decision, right?
Absolutely. We wanted to leave that to the viewer's imagination. There's
another issue, too—as wonderful an actor as Thure is, he's a frickin' awful
Is Eddie autobiographical at all?
Only in the sense that Jon and I discussed how some artists need to suffer
the most to create their best work—that's the only sense in which it's
What are you working on now?
Well, I'm not sure what will be greenlit next, but I have a dark comedy
about a kidnapping in process.
(Laughing) No, not exactly, though I really appreciate the comparison to
the Coens. Some others compared the camera work in Eddie to
Kubrick, so I loved that, too. But, no this is going to be a kind of combo
film noir and western with a kidnapping involved. This will be much more of
my personal vision and trying to tweak these genres in my own personal
I can't wait to see it! Thanks for your time, Boris.