Interview: Louise Linton Talks Outlandish Comic Treat ‘Me You Madness’, Directorial Challenges, and Being Kinder To One Another

We had the pleasure of sitting down to chat to Louise Linton about her directorial feature Me You Madness which we called “a triumph. Outlandish, provocative, and witty… a contemporary camp treat” in our review of the film which you can read here.

You can watch the full video interview above where Louise spoke about the cinematic influences that inspired the film, facing the devastation of California’s Woolsey fires mid-shoot, and whether her time in Washington DC inspired the film’s ‘Let’s be a little kinder’ message.

Me You Madness is on UK and Irish release from Monday 19th of April. Access on iTunes here. You can pre-order the film ahead of its DVD release here.

Read highlights from our chat with Louise below. The order of some questions and answers has been changed for continuity.

On the cinematic influences behind Me You Madness…

I had rewatched Sunset Boulevard and had always been a huge fan of the femme fatale genre and started to do a bit of research into it. I rewatched Double Indemnity with Barbara Stanwyck, Basic Instinct (one of my favourite films), and Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. There have also been a lot of French movies within this femme fatale genre. I like when there is a woman in charge who is three steps ahead of the other characters. I also liked the idea of switching gender stereotypes. Catherine embodies a lot of alpha male characteristics – she’s a boss, she runs a hedge fund, she’s sexually very empowered and confident. She likes fast cars. I wanted to make a modern American Psycho. All the brilliance and satire of it, I loved. Part of the satire at the end of the film is that he is telling people all the gruesome things he has done and no one actually believes him. I wondered if that was why I subliminally wrote that into Me You Madness.

I love John Hughes and grew up in the eighties, at the end of his movies and a lot of eighties movies there is this moral denouement and a moral of the story. While I wanted it to be this really brazen romp, I also wanted it to end with that warm nostalgia, a yummy feeling where you walk away feeling uplifted. I’m so into that fun, camp type of film. One of my favourite movies ever was Airplane with Leslie Nielsen. The absurdity of it… I love it. It’s just my funny bone. I love things that are completely unrealistic and totally absurd.

The main challenges of stepping into the director’s chair…

I enjoyed it many times. When you are in the comfort of your living room, watching a movie on your sofa you can be lulled into believing that the filmmaking process was comfortable. That shoot was fairly rigorous and exhausting and the location was freezing – so cold that at one point my Steadicam operator said to me “We need to shave your whole upper body because it’s catching the light” as I’m quite blonde. It was so cold on set, especially during the dinner sequence where we look like we are having a lovely dinner and drinking champagne – it was like subzero temperatures in that house. Also because the crew were coming in and out so we couldn’t keep the heat in. I found it physically challenging directing this movie.

Our days were long, we were doing a minimum of twelve hour days sometimes overtime. I was in high heels all the time. It’s funny as that character is so into fashion (and I like fashion too) but generally I’m in a pair of leggings or Nike Airs.

I’ve got a running list of mistakes we made on Me You Madness. Things I learned as a director, things I learned as a producer. Seven days into filming, the Woolsey Fires ripped through Malibu and burned down the entire ten mile radius. So for several months we didn’t know if our location had burned down. For newish producers, I think we misjudged how much insurance we should have and we assumed there wouldn’t be a force majeure situation like a fire ripping through. We were evacuated so quickly that we didn’t have any time to pick up all of the equipment, so for many weeks we were paying for these astonishingly expensive pieces of camera equipment. So it was very challenging!

On writing the script…

I wrote it so fast. I wrote it in like two weeks then sent the draft out, then took one more week to do changes. I just enjoyed doing this. It was coming into my mind so quickly. Little jokes would come up and I’d immediately run back to my computer and type them in. I think you go into writing something with the tone in mind. I was also listening to all the eighties music and I write to music, so I would be reminded of eighties movies I saw as a kid. Writing it was the easiest part actually. I’ve started to write a sequel that’s a bit like Overboard… I don’t know if we’ll ever get the opportunity to film it – it depends how successful the movie is. I love to write, it’s such a pleasure.

Whether Catherine’s message of “Let’s all be a little kinder to one another” is inspired by Louise’s own representation in the media…

People ask me that quite a lot but it was more of a general message. As we said earlier, I feel like the world has become quite cagey and quite nasty, I’m not even on social media and I’ve got people to patrol it. They say there are only a couple of haters but otherwise people are quite nice. I worry for my step-children as I see how nasty it can be. I’m not a nasty person, I’m a very gentle person and very empathetic – I don’t like seeing people get their feelings hurt. Having been in the world of politics and entertainment, I don’t take it personally as I see the amount of criticism that is levelled on everyone in every direction – whether they deserve it or not. It was more of a general message. When I first wrote the screenplay it was a message much more in “Catherine’s vein” but then I thought it’s such a cruel world out there…

Also I was in the middle of the political frame so I saw how critical Democrats were of Republicans and Republicans were of Democrats when I was in DC. It was this intolerably toxic feeling. So this was much more of a general message. Catherine’s archetype changes – starting as a diabolical bitch who talks people down and yells at people, by the end she has softened as she has fallen in love.

I’m not Republican. I’m very much independent and very liberal, so I guess at times it was hard being seen through the rubric as the wife of someone working for such a controversial President. I really just wanted to be left out of the whole thing which I obviously didn’t do a good job of *laughs* I hope that when people watch this movie then they get a slightly different impression as I’m okay at taking the piss out of myself.

On whether there were plans for a post-COVID theatrical release…

There was. We considered putting it out last Fall but the studio really liked it as a Valentine’s film. I also did want to give a bit of breath between what I anticipated would be a contentious election and inauguration and my film coming out. I think it would have raised more eyebrows had Steven still been in office. I was game for putting it out earlier but I think the timing ending up being right. Obviously the end of everything that happened in DC was so heartbreaking for everyone and I was really pleased to have distance between that and my film. The two things are completely unrelated. The film has nothing to do with politics and now I have nothing to do with politics, so I think the timing was right.

On future projects…

I’m working on a TV show at the moment based on Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief. It’s about the most prolific jewel thief in a American history. He had a life by day as a suburban dad and then he was a cat burglar stealing from Margaux Hemmingway, Liz Taylor, Armand Hammer… you name it. He was such a fascinating character. All of his tactics were so low tech which I love. I optioned it about three years ago and I started to work on it during COVID as a show.

I was also approached by studio executives who liked Me You Madness. I pitched them this idea as they said “Boy, you must have some really interesting experiences that you can write from Washington DC.” What astonished me was as the wife of someone at that level of someone in the cabinet, how much access you have to the White House, the treasury, to the State Department, to Air Force One, to Marine One, to Camp David, to all these individuals. I always thought it was really funny no one ever suspected that I could have been a spy – but I could have been! I’m toying with this idea about writing from my experiences in DC, but writing a fictional tale of a woman who is married to the Secretary of State but she’s actually a foreign operative.

Order Me You Madness on iTunes.