"Sex, Drugs, Love, Marx..."
had an underground screening in
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Giulio Scalinger of the Screening Room with volunteer Mayumi Kornfeind
The scorpion I found in my suitcase (my mom killed it)
Jeremy shows us the O.K. Corrall
That big fire that was on the news.
The Screening Room.
Howdy Folks! The two screenings in Tucson on June 20-21 '03 went really well, thanks to Giulio Scalinger at the Screening Room, and all those who helped make it a success. Giulio has suggested they'll bring the film BACK in the FALL! I'll also, it seems, be helping out in some capacity with the Arizona International Film Fest! During my trip there, I spoke to two classes at the University of Arizona, got attacked by a scorpion, toured Old Tucson Studios, and was frightened watching the Arizona legislature debate their budget on TV, with Republicans invoking God's mandate to cut education etc about 2 times per sentence.
This is the best of the Q & A's from the two nights we screened in Tucson, Arizona at the Screening Room. If there's two Q's in a row, it means two audience members were getting into the discussion.
(Thanks to Patrick Weishampel for recording the Q & A)
Q- I didn't get the thing about the catnip. Why did you choose catnip?
Q- Was it really Catnip?
A- It's -- you wanna film me? (hands the camera to an audience member) Careful the side of my camera's been signed by Noam Chomsky. It's starting to smudge off.
A- The catnip - some of the producers I talked to didn't want me to do that. I didn't want to pick a specific drug, I didn't want it to be heroine, cocaine, pot, hash, because they all have a specific political context...
Q- It made it sort of comical - is that what you were going for, a sort of light...
A- Comical, satirical, it's not about punch-lines and wukka wukka, making people laugh, it's more about sort of sending it up, I didn't want it to be anything specific, but it's funny cause catnip is a drug, cats use it, has anyone ever tried to use catnip?
Q- Yeah, you can make it into tea or something.
A- That's what I'm hoping. What does it do?
Q- It acts as a relaxant rather than a stimulant.
A- As one guy says in the film, why are cats allowed to do drugs?
Q- It's like skullcap or something like that.
Q- Valarian, Skullcap, herbal remedies for nervous tension.
A- Right, pot is one everyone talks about in Vancouver, heroine is the other one - there's a really harsh heroine problem in Vancouver.
Q- It seems like you can get just about anything - it was strange, I went to Vancouver and there was like a list, a catalogue of drugs from almost anyone you met, as you bump into some stranger.
Q- I found the male character (Jez, played by Peter Grier) to be pathetic.
A- Different people have different reactions - some people hate her (Shandy, played by Rebecca Harker), find her to be horrible.
Q- The woman, the boss (Shelley MacDonald), got into her role about the best of anyone. And the guy on the bus (Jeffrey Flieler) who had gotten fired from that position before her...
A- You got that, cool, it's about 50 50 for people getting that.
Q- I guess it was all the post it notes.
A- Some people catch that, and some people don't.
Q- I thought too that boss was probably a lesbian, you know when she said if you need anything, I thought she was putting out the bait. I think so...
Q- I wasn't sure about that, I thought she was that corporate stereotype of just offering help but not really meaning it.
Q- Yeah and then pushing Shandy to get rid of the loser... I had a feeling about that boss.
Q- The laugh as she left the room - almost like a wicked witch laugh - was that scripted?
A- I actually had her, each time we did that scene, we had Rebecca first, then we did Shelley, and every time we did a take, I told Shelley to improv a new line each time. She did it about 7 times, she said a random thing that came into her head - and that was the best one. They're all stage actors so they're good at staying in - a lot of tv actors when they make a mistake they stop and say "resetting," which drives you mental as a filmmaker, cause you don't want to start the scene over. Cause it's so much effort to get it all set up. So things like that where she can continue, people can keep playing and not crack, and even if they make a mistake they gotta keep going, and pretend it's the character who made the mistake and work with it.
Q- So are you happy with it?
A- Yeah - it goes up and down, i watch it millions of times, and see it with audiences a few times, it becomes a whole different thing each time I see it. So here to be in the States, I went to Zmedia activist training camp last week, and then I've been here in Arizona for about a week. So now I'm seeing it as a canadian film, cos I've been out of the country for a couple weeks, now I'm looking at it as a Canadian film and seeing where Canada sticks out.
Q- The accents.
Q- Where did you go to school?
A- I went to Carleton U in Ottawa and did journalism there, then went to UBC and did an MFA in film there. In my undergrad I did TV journalism, then went to UBC and hadn't done 16mm, so I did some 16, that was too expensive, so I decided to shoot video for a while. If someone dropped out of the sky with a million dollars, I'd shoot film again cos I like how it looks.
Q- Did you have in mind to release this as B&W, or colour?
A- It's one of those things, when you write the script, you plan how to make it as low budget as possible. You don't write car chases in, you find ways to make it cheaper when you're writing it. B&W is a way to make it technically simpler, and it's more, it limits the razzle dazzle, which then forces you to think about other stuff. Jane, I chose her as cinematographer cos she's such a great still photographer in B&W, and she never shot video before. I knew she'd have a strong eye for composing and using the tones, there's a colour viewfinder in the XL-1, so I knew she'd be able to see through the colours and compose for B&W more than any other DP. Most Cinematographers work 99% in colour, and they have a sense how to jump around in B&W, or sepia, or whatever, but I wanted someone who almost always shoots B&W.
Q- I liked it.
A- Thanks, and it makes it simpler because when it's in BW, you don't have to match the lighting, and have colour lights - like the light from a window and a bulb won't match if it's colour. B&W solves that problem - you can use all available light, have bulbs and sunlight in the same shot. Save a lot of time setting up. And it's better - this story makes sense B&W, there's no reason to have colour in this story.
Q- It kind of blew me away.
Q- The music was wonderful - the pacing's real nice.
A- That band's called Saul Duck. Do you guys know the beans or baron samedi? There's members of those guys... They gave me about 2 hours of music, and it's all post-rock kinda stuff, there's a lot of moods and paces that come through the music, and I was able to slice and dice it, so it would fit, I could create moods through the scenes, cos it's so repetitive, and it sort of builds in tension, then it'll drop out and go back to the beginning building tension again. So if you wanna change moods, a 4 or 5 min song will have 4 or 5 different moods in it. So if you can't have someone scoring to the movie after it's done, I like cutting to the music, I like having it and cutting with it, as opposed to doing it after - that's really good but I like the other way too.
A- Anyone interested in a soundtrack? (I give away 5 soundtracks).
Q- What was your budget?
A- I don't know.
Q- I like the pace of the cutting too. It's great stuff, but the way you cut it did it too.
Q- Did you say they did that music for free?
A- Yeah, they actually spent two or three days in the studio. The band has disbanded now though.
Q- If you try catnip let us know.
A- I always imagined there'd be someone OD'ing on catnip at the premiere, there'd be some publicity. Didn't happen yet.
Q- Does the music always come first now, have you learned to do it that way?
A- It depends... I hear GL plays music when he's writing, and he gets someone to copy and it's crappy... The one there's a trailer for here, Marie Tyrell, I started editing, gave them the rough edit to start making music, then I'll eidt from that. His is more techno trance stuff, I'll be able to cut up a lot too cause it's reptitive a lot.