“Night–for–night filming means you’re no longer dependent on the sky or the sun. It’s more serious, more sexual, more dramatic.”
VH Can you talk about it? It’s called The Death and Life of Joseph Donovan. It’s a XD sinister, and at the same time very festive and flamboyant, look at show business today. It’s about this huge star, a sex symbol, the latest poster boy for the industry, the public and the media, whose correspondence with an up–and–coming eleven–year–old actor goes public. There’s a huge outcry that leaves no one unscathed. I intend it to be a reflection on popularity and how the media manipulates public opinion.
VH On privacy too and how the family of celebrities respond to fame. If you blow it up to another level, it says something about my experience these past six years, even though I invented the story from A to Z.
Listening to you, it’s hard not to think of a letter that did the VH rounds online after the last Cannes Film Festival. A fan letter you wrote to Leonardo DiCaprio when you were eight$… There’s no connection in my mind between that letter XD and the film I wrote. Then again, there has to be. But I wrote a lot of fan letters, you know. I wrote to Danny DeVito, Susan Sarandon, Céline Dion, Alyssa Milano, to the actresses from Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer$…
Did any of them write back? VH
Not one! XD
Is there anything about the way you work that will change with VH this film?
The scenario always dictates the style of filming. XD The way I’ve written it, this film is!… opulent. Grand. Mommy is about how the American dream backfired; what happens when you want to grab the dream with both hands, but belong to a class that was never part of the concept. When the working class try to buy into this dream, they’re confronted with the fact that it’s not for them, that it costs too much. It’s outmoded, it’s 1940s Los Angeles. The system spits out certain people. The Death and Life of Joseph Donovan tackles American cinema, even going as far as to ape certain cult sequences, or ask composer Gabriel Yared to parody Hans Zimmer’s music. It’s a film about superheroes, a reflection on what makes America tick, what the public wants, what creates a splash. It also considers how we might raise the bar, give the public higher expectations. Something we could achieve but most of the time fail, because of a vicious circle in which the media plays its role. It’s also about what mainstream taste is, and how it’s manufactured. All this has to be done like a Christopher Nolan film.
On a smaller budget$… VH
True, but a lot of money all the same. When a film costs XD this much, it has to be beautifully made. Audiences deserve it. Beyond its role as entertainment, cinema must remain an art form. All those dreadful, big–budget Hollywood movies, I find that revolting. It’s a lack of respect to have so much money and invest it so badly.
You once said that with hindsight, you regretted never having lived the VH laid–back student life, when all you need do is decide to take time out and have it$… No, I’m too afraid for that. It’s as though we don’t realXD ise how fast the world is slipping from under our feet. People are blinkered by their busy lives, their personal needs, their careers, and fail to grasp that we are witnessing the end of civilisation as we know it. Unless you’re more than 85 years old, this is something we really need to think about.
Hence your need to keep moving so fast? VH
You have to try and make the films you want to make XD while you can. Don’t wait to try and change things. It’s like an obsession. I don’t know what kind of a world we’ll be living in five years from now, so I really have to make my films now. If only because the world might end tomorrow.
VH “MOMMY” is on general release
from 19th September Music plays an important role in your films, and I imagine in your life too. How do you consume music? I listen to music at night for dancing, or just to let it XD wash over me, but mostly I listen to music during the day, especially in taxis. I love it. Even when I’m with a friend I tell them sorry and put my earphones on. It’s my egotistical, asocial side!… The music I listen to is often what I imagine kissing someone to, or I imagine people doing something in my films to that track. For me to like a song, I have to give it a function, some practical value. It has to set my imagination free.
Since making your first film at 19, you’ve pretty much gone straight VH from one project to another. Have you been able to take any time out at all? The one time I was able to enjoy a few months off XD was between Heartbeats and Laurence Anyways, and I used it to develop several drug addictions. Which I’m now cured of, thankfully.
What keeps you working flat out? Is it the desire to create or the context, VH self–discipline, as a distraction maybe? And what do you get out of it? I don’t feel I’m forcing myself in any way. I’ve done XD things as and when I felt I wanted and needed to do them. The need to create becomes an itch you have to scratch. After finishing Mommy, for the first time in a long time, I didn’t really feel that need. I didn’t feel there was any project I could throw myself into to the point I would be willing to sacrifice friendships, relationships or my health, as I have done in the past. I imagine it will take me a little longer than before, which is a pain because when I’m not working I can’t sit still. But my next project, which will be the first American production of my career, is going to take a long time to prepare. Two, maybe three years. The actors have to be available, and it will involve a lot of special effects and editing. Shooting should take place in New York, Montreal and London.