The Ape Regards His Tail came out of a desire to continue stripping down the so-called industry standards of filmmaking. As with my previous film, Break, Blow, Burn, I wrote no script and planned and shot it entirely myself. I’ve come to believe that prevailing methods were established to make things convenient for crew members; not because they guarantee an original or interesting film.
I also wanted to tackle a project that would be free of any dependency on language. The main character, Con, never speaks. This connects with the overall theme of human evolution and whether or not it can be modified deliberately. The film argues that such development happens because of individual choices and not by social engineering. The plot is deliberately ambiguous and the explanation for Con’s predicament eventually becomes irrelevant, because he makes a conscious choice to live free.
The story was loosely inspired by Twilight Zone episodes like Where is Everybody? and The Lonely, as well as sources as diverse as Werner Herzog’s Fata Morgana and the early scenes in the original Planet of the Apes. The title comes from the Devo song ‘Gates of Steel,’ the lyrics of which made a strong impression on me around the time I was preparing the film. It’s an earnest declaration that human beings, whether we like it or not, belong to nature and not to the world of metal, plastic and machines with which we have attempted to replace nature.