When the idea of a nun and a prostitute stuck on an elevator was first suggested to me I laughed. It sounded like a joke–which was a good start. But as I researched the subjects of prostitution and Catholic sisterhood it became more and less than funny and, while there are plenty of darkly funny moments at the beginning, this is ultimately an antidote to Pretty Woman.
To keep two people on an elevator interesting (minimalist psychodrama) I had to go boldly where the characters took me – which in this case was straight to HELL.
We were shooting ten pages a day in my tiny, badly-ventilated garage in July, so “infernal” wasn’t such a stretch. The actresses were smearing antiperspirant on their faces to keep their makeup from running. There were no wild walls. It was not a soundstage. We started calling it “The Hell-evator.” or “Bryan’s Inferno.”
Before “Dirty Habit” I was writing a rock opera about a mentally-ill musician/filmmaker who believes a consortium of multinational corporate spies, working in conjunction with the US government to bring about the end of the world, has targeted him. That project, called “Spacerex,” was a bust after 9/11.
By the time our Christian soldiers had taken control of the ground in the Middle East, my sense of irony had been completely eclipsed by George Bush’s administration.
In the interest of my own mental health, I started attending a Quaker meeting, shelved “Spacerex,” quit smoking pot and, as I was casting about for a new idea, my friend, Adam Braid, suggested a nun and a prostitute stuck on an elevator.
This seemed like a nice, manageable concept for a first feature. The limitation of sets and characters appealed to me after the convoluted, un-producible mind-f#*k of “Spacerex” and I started writing immediately.
Having lived in downtown L.A. in the 90’s, I’ve known some crack addicts. One homeless prostitute who used to hang out in front of my loft would tell me stories about her clients and the disagreements they would have. She was a master of gallows humor. But she fell apart the year I was acquainted with her and, where she once talked to me on a friendly basis, soon she was just hitting me up for drug money. So I started avoiding her. It was very sad. This film goes out to her – wherever she is.