Alex Cox clearly relishes his reputation as UK cinema's 'oldest enfant terrible'. The now Oregon-based film-maker is plotting a sequel to his 1980s cult hit Repo Man. He has already completed the screenplay for Repo Chick, which comes billed as 'a 21st century look at the issues of Repo Man'. That's to say, it will unfold against the backcloth of the credit crunch and repossession boom, with a female protagonist.
Cox was passing through London earlier this summer to promote X Films - True Confessions Of A Radical Film-maker, his picaresque account of the making of 10 films, from Repo Man, Sid And Nancy and Walker to his latest feature, Searchers 2.0, which premiered in Venice 2007.
Over the course of his career, Cox has worked in the UK, Spain, Nicaragua, Mexico and the US, but ask him about current UK film culture and he strikes a downbeat note.
'There was an attempt for a long time for the British to differentiate our culture from American culture. What's interesting is that it has taken New Labour and their creation of the Film Council to suppress that and to attempt to really make England a subsidiary part of the United States,' he says.
He bemoans what he sees as the council's backing of US films at the expense of regional UK films or low-budget projects.
These are familiar criticisms. However, when Cox holds forth about the industrial history of UK and US film, it is apparent he is immensely well-informed. 'I take anybody's money. I don't care,' he replies when asked why he took Film Council backing for Revengers Tragedy in 2002. 'I'm an artist and money is the lifeblood of art. I was very grateful for the Film Council's money.'
Cox's latest film, Searchers 2.0, was his attempt at a digital, micro-feature. He set himself a budget of about $200,000 (the film sold to the BBC for UK television rights and to JVC for Japan). Cox shot in John Ford country. 'We were able to take advantage of the light in Monument Valley in a way a big crew can't,' Cox says of the experience.
Now, Cox is plotting Repo Chick. In 1984, Universal acquired Repo Man as a negative pick-up. Cox has returned to the studio to see if it is interested in the sequel. 'I thought, 'Go back to the belly of the beast and see what they say.' If they don't want to make it, take it somewhere else.'
One of Cox's most recent jobs was directing the second unit on a Mexican TV drama series. Put it to him that this is surely a little beneath the dignity of an acclaimed director, and he laughs. 'This isn't a dignified business. It's an absurd business. There is no dignity in this business, you just have to go with that and accept it.'