Category : Film
Category : Film
Alex Rivera is the director and co-writer of Sleep Dealer, which is scheduled for limited release on April 17, 2009.
Condition of Mr. Segundo: Hoping to avoid Morpheus’s maquiladoras.
Guest: Alex Rivera
Subjects Discussed: David Riker’s La Ciudad, splitting screenwriting/directing duties, the collaboration process, the dynamics of globalization, labor and New World Order, the importance of having a heart when making a film, being the “Tin Man” to the “Wizard of Oz”, setting a futuristic story in the Third World, doing something new with science fiction, Sleep Dealer‘s lack of references to contemporary guerrilla armies, the Mayan Army of Water Liberation, intercepting a radio signal without problems, encryption, the heightened realities that come from balancing multiple narrative issues, clairvoyance in a bed of glue, machines and remote control, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, wireless vs. cables, what “looks cooler” on film, organizing specific movements, looking for actors with dance backgrounds, ambition vs. practicalities of low-budget films, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, satirical television commercials, Robocop, the “post-border spirit” of collaboration, class division, using humor and satire to discuss the evils of fascism, Starship Troopers, Brazil, on directing a first feature after 15 short films, mashups and found footage, Craig Baldwin, reusing and recontextualizing images, switching from collage to narrative, financial assistance from the Sundance Institute, the false creative ideas of being a director, sprinkling found footage from the Iraq War into the narrative, pharmaceutical company ad campaigns, shanty towns on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mad Max, hiding behind technologies, police resistance, Thomas Mann’s “principle of least resistance”, increased connectivity vs. widening economic gap, the Berlin Wall, mariachis offering to play songs, Mexico’s legacy of tradition, the “wacky prediction” of big ideas, ultimate outsourcing, machines that eat up money, the Slurpee effect, Tijuana as the city of the future on t-shirts, spoofing Independence Day, flying sombreros that blow up Congress, Nortec DJs, Urban Outfitters, donkey shows and getting drunk, Tijuana as immigration gateway, and bad puns.
EXCERPT FROM SHOW:
Correspondent: I would put forth to you, based on how excited you were just talking about Craig Baldwin, that you still have this impulse to take other things and transmute them and rearrange them. I’m curious how you got your fix during the course of Sleep Dealer in terms of recontextualizing found stuff and found locations. Did it come back to initial objects? Or taking things from eBay and the world around us and reconfiguring for this particular world?
Rivera: First of all, I would say, for me, the notion of being a director and the notion of being creative is laden with a lot of false ideas. This idea that the artist, the filmmaker, generates this vision. The truth is we sample. We work with actors who bring what they bring. We work with locations that pre-exist. So we’re always sampling and recycling no matter what we pretend to be doing. And Sleep Dealer is a film that does recycle more than other films in two big ways: one is we’ve got found footage sprinkled throughout the narrative. There are helicopters and aerial shots that were probably filmed for some news crew. And we bought them and put them in the film. And they’re woven into the narrative. There’s footage from the war in Iraq that is recontextualized as part of this sci-fi future war. There are images of the nervous system that are used in this science fiction-y way in Sleep Dealer that were probably produced for a pharmaceutical company ad campaign. And we brought those into our narrative. And so this is a science fiction where it’s perforated by already existing footage. The other way that we’re sampling is in the locations. Because as a documentary filmmaker, I saw places that blew my minds. Shanty towns on the outskirts of Tijuana that push up against the border wall. The border wall itself running down a beach and out into the ocean. High-tech factories next to some of the poorest neighborhoods in the world. And so you see these things that look, in front of your own eyes, more bizarre, more dystopic, than anything in Mad Max. And so I got the idea that we could make science fiction using documentary strategies.
Esther Rots is the writer, director, editor, and producer of is most recently the director of Can Go Through Skin. Dan Geesin is the sound designer and music composer of the film. The film is presently playing at the New Directors/New Films series, which is running between March 25 and April 5 at MOMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Condition of Mr. Segundo: Eschewing intuitive sensibilities.
Subjects Discussed: The importance of skin to Can Go Through Skin‘s heroine, private thoughts and feelings, vocational criteria, how story becomes stronger with ambiguity, living and loneliness outside of work, making a film that’s 100% intuitive, making decisions on gut, actors having to adapt to shifting material, working intensely with Rifka Lodeizen, working with a small crew where everybody had a say, settling on a crew of five, random painting of walls, the trust and concentration that comes with a small crew, sound designs and seasons, ambient percussion, jarring disconnects between visuals and sounds, parallel stories that come from creativity, reproducing the odors of mud through sound, wrangling rats, how a pre-existing kitchen changed the script, the difficulties of financing a loose film production, and Dutch artistic support.
EXCERPT FROM SHOW:
Correspondent: This leads me to wonder then how the house was located. Did you, in fact, try to find a house that had the stinkiest possible odor? Or something that was possibly in disuse? And the rat. How did you wrangle the rat in the course of the shower scene? It could not have been easy to do. Since it is vermin, you know.
Rots: It’s a shame this is radio. I’m poking out my thumb now and it’s got white lines all over it. That was directing the rat.
Rots: He nibbled the middle bit of my thumb. It was hanging there for quite some time and biting away.
Rots: That was me directing a rat. I’m not good. (laughs)
Correspondent: Did you have to see a doctor? Get shots?
Rots: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was too chewed up.
Geesin: Tetanus jab.
Rots: No, rats are not directable. They just do their own way. But that might be a natural talent as well.
Correspondent: They say that kids and animals are the toughest to direct.
Correspondent: But you would say that a rat is even tougher.
Rots: Yeah. And boats. Boats are also a cliche.
This particular discussion was conducted in French and English. Many thanks to Aurélie Godet, who kindly assisted us in our conversation.
Ursula Meier is most recently the director of Home. The film is presently playing at the New Directors/New Films series, which is running between March 25 and April 5 at MOMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Condition of Mr. Segundo: Searching for a new home in Bulgaria.
Guest: Ursula Meier
Subjects Discussed: Organizing a film that required a freeway and many cars, shooting on a Bulgarian airstrip runway, the financial impact of 300 extras driving around and using a lot of gas, how Des épaules solides gave Meier the liberty to make Home, Isabelle Huppert’s box office appeal, scenarios that are both plausible and allegorical, the deliberate blurring of time and geography, keeping the internal world and the external world from crossing or merging, establishing the family with conditions of routine, noise and accumulation, knowing the territory before knowing the characters, gathering testimony from people who have lived next to a road, the importance of mental environment, anecdotes vs. fables, Rupert Thomson, Guy Debord, Jean-Luc Godard’s Weekend, Hitchcock and The Birds, Agnès Godard’s self-imposed ban on cinematic references, Night of the Hunter, Gus Van Sant’s Gerry, and unifying ideas.
EXCERPT FROM SHOW:
Correspondent: I must ask how you found this particular house and whether you had to consult some French transportation authority to get this particular freeway. What did you do for location scouting for something that was so essential to the movie? And I’m just curious if you had to broker any particular arrangements with any particular governmental agencies to get the cars. Maybe you could describe this.
Meier: (through translator) It was actually a lot of research. It was complicated to find that road. More than the house, it was the road that gave us a lot of work. We needed a large road. Like an abandoned highway. And it’s very difficult to find. Because if we approached highways that were under construction, they would quickly go into being bumped into the traffic. So it did not work. And then we looked around Europe. Firstly, the co-producing countries, France, Switzerland, and Belgium. And then other European countries. We went as far as Quebec. And it still didn’t work. Actually, if you had constructions on the road anyway, you had construction trucks going by all the time. So eventually, we tried another option, which was airport tracks. Landing tracks. And the problem there was that the landscapes around them were absolutely ugly and uninteresting. I was looking for something that would look well and, at the same time, have this abstract but real-looking quality to it. Also, we needed a road that would be long enough. You know, we couldn’t have anything that was short. Which was the case most of the time for airport tracks. Because we had all these cars. Approximately 300. With extras in them, driving them to create the traffic. And you needed them to drive fast enough. Like 90 miles per hour. So you needed a road that was long enough, far ahead so that they could break, and then re-stop.