In Part I, David Simpson, author of the bestselling sci-fi novel series Post-Human, talked about how he became first an author and then a filmmaker by creating a short promotional piece for his series. The resulting video represents what Simpson thinks the opening sequence of a Post-Human film might look like. He accomplished this with virtually no experience, a tiny crew and a location that cost a third of his budget. In this Part II he talks about the equipment he used, and how he planned and executed the production. Filmmaker: How did you plan out what you were going to do? Simpson: We met with the actors at my apartment two or three days prior to shooting, and we… Read more
Having just posted the trailer for Ben Wheatley’s upcoming adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s classic dystopian novel, High-Rise, now’s a good time to check out this considerably more obscure — yet, for fans of the British writer, equally rewarding — film. With a hat tip to Dangerous Minds, check out Sam Scoggins’ rather Ballardian author’s portrait, which mixes interview footage with both imagery and storytelling strategies drawn from Ballard’s work.
Ed Lachman has been the director of photography on a long list of visually stunning movies. He has worked repeatedly with director Todd Haynes. This year he is nominated for an Oscar for his work on Carol, an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel that stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. For Carol, Lachman creates a beautiful pastiche of color and texture to invite the audience into the world of New York in the 1950s as well as the emotional state of two women suddenly and deeply in love. Lachman and I sat down in L.A. to talk about Carol and more. Filmmaker: Now that the digital intermediates offers so much possibility in post-production, I’m curious to hear your thoughts about… Read more
Mountains May Depart begins as a love triangle, whose three connecting lines separate and recross across three segments in 1999 (two years after Jia Zhangke’s debut feature), 2014 and 2025. The 1999 opening brings us back to Jia’s native Shanxi, whose streets by now look very, very familiar to anyone who’s kept up with his work. As Tao, the woman at the center of the love triangle, Jia’s professional/personal partner Zhao Tao is introduced in period peasant style: strategically layered brightly lined sweaters, nothing too form-fitting or fashion-forward, hair straight and uncomplicatedly pulled-back. In 2014 — following marriage and divorce to wealthy Zhang Jinsheng (Yi Zhang) — she’s visibly wealthier, wearing Western-style dresses and with some time-consumingly teased-out hair. During this second sequence that I realized that periodizing his cinematic… Read more
Yes, it’s a promotional featurette produced by The Weinstein Company, but this video of the great costume designer Sandy Powell talking about designing Carol is illuminating. Powell discusses conceiving clothing for both Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara while keeping in mind what their sartorial choices illuminate about their characters. Also, her comment about costuming for the period — that the “look” of a decade doesn’t really kick in until halfway through as people are stuck in the fashions of the previous decade — is spot on.
David Simpson is the author of the bestselling sci-fi novel series Post-Human. There are currently five books in the series, with two more planned. Born in Ireland, he has lived in Vancouver since 2000 and believed he would end up a teacher of English until he discovered self-publishing on the Kindle. Having had success self-publishing, he hoped to create a promotional video for the series that might lead to the production of an actual movie. The resulting video represents what Simpson thinks the opening sequence of a Post-Human film might look like. The truly fascinating part of the story is that after a couple of false starts, and with no production experience, Simpson ended up producing the promotional video himself,… Read more
The path that finally led to the making of The Removals — a feature-length paranoid lo-fi thriller and love story produced by Two Dollar Radio — was a very, very long and twisty one. As it probably is for many films. I spent five weeks in the summer of 2015 with an amazing crew and actors making a film that I had been dreaming about and plotting out in fits and starts since I was about 20-years old. And I’m 50 now. I basically had to unlearn everything I thought I knew about the creative process. Here are a few lessons I learned. 1. Collaborative Filmmaking vs Solitary Writing. Writing fiction is, for the most part, an intensely private act.… Read more
Written and directed by Tobias Lindholm (A Hijacking), A War — one of the five nominees for Best Foreign Language Film — examines the divide between the military and domestic spheres in the life of Claus Pedersen (Lindholm regular Pilou Asbaek). He is unit leader of a small Danish NATO contingent in Afghanistan; his wife, Maria (Tuva Novotny), tries her best to hold down the home front, a battleground of another sort in which their three young children are non-lethal combatants. The separation of these domains becomes more and more clouded; the occasional satellite phone call is about all that connects the nuclear family. Differences completely dissolve after Pedersen returns to Denmark under a dark cloud: He is accused of… Read more
The health and identity of American independent cinema has always been difficult to gauge and define, but Sundance is our default arbiter and explainer. Of course, indie film exists far beyond the limits of Park City in January, but the festival gives the nebulous American… Read more
Watching Anomalisa – the painfully human stop-motion animation film from co-directors Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman – the same thought flitted through my head as when I viewed The Revenant: “This is incredible, but it was probably a nightmare to work on.” Though free from… Read more
How does one measure a film festival’s success? Through the number of world premieres, red-carpet events, and sold-out screenings? Or possibly it’s something that occurs beyond the screen, in terms of how a festival supports its community and helps nurture its local film culture. Turning… Read more
For his debut as a feature film writer and director, Nate Parker has told the story of a personal hero: Nat Turner. The Birth of a Nation is also the first major fiction film about Turner, the leader of an infamous 1831 slave rebellion. Parker himself stars as Turner,… Read more