Hi, first of all, congratulations, you are one of the participants of the Europe Film Festival U.K. What do you feel?
First, I’m always amazed that anyone wants to look at anything I’ve done. I feel my work appeals to such a niche audience. Second, I’m grateful to be recognized as a writer/director; it’s an affirmation that I’m not just conducting some exercise in self-Indulgence. Further, it means a lot to be able to share this with my cast and crew, they all work so damn hard, and they have to put up with me on top of it! I make sure they’re always included in any accolades our work receives.
Are there any directors that were a form of inspiration for you?
Cinematically, the French New Wave, partially Goddard; try and tell me the dance scene in Bande à Part isn’t the coolest three minutes fifty-seven seconds in the history of cinema! Also, RW Fassbinder and Andrei Tarkovsky have substantially impacted me, but stylistically, Yasujirō Ozu is my most significant cinematic influence. Yet to find the roots of my inspiration, you’d need to read between the lines of pop culture. Lou Reed and the Velvet Under Ground, Walt Whitman, Jack Kerouac, Jackson Pollock, William Burroughs, Albert Camus, Guy Debord, to name a few, have had a much more significant impact on my work than any filmmaker. The line of artistic evolution in my work traces closer to Charles Baudelaire than to Martin Scorsese.
Mick Lexington onset under the Brooklyn Bridge with Polish Actress Agnes Artych.
Do filmmakers have any responsibility to culture? Do you feel that being a creative person requires that you give back or tell a particular story or not do something else? Why or why not?
A responsibility to culture inasmuch that film is a reflection of culture. I feel that anyone in the creative arts is ‘duty-bound’ to throw contentment off-kilter via film or another medium. The film has a unique advantage as the film is truth at 24 frames per second. As a filmmaker, the moment you release a film to the public, whether you like it or not, you have a responsibility to fulfill an unspoken contract with your audience. You can fulfill that contract with either Entertainment or Art. In Entertainment, you look to satisfy a predefined situation; for example, a joke is set up, a punch line is delivered, and the audience laughs. Yet, in Art, the situation is defined by the object. One does not look for a prescriptive resolution because the viewer, by watching the film, is participating in the resolution. It is in this participation that the Film and the Filmmaker fulfill their responsibility to culture.
When you get angry at a movie, what sets you off? Are there common qualities in cinema today that you dislike?
First, with the amount of content available to anyone, it’s not worth getting ‘angry’ over bad cinema. I can always close my browser or click on another link. I find myself not angry but often disappointed with a lack of effort. Second, the advent of digital filmmaking has opened up content creation to anyone with a cell phone. Unfortunately, many self-proclaimed filmmakers have never learned the craft of storytelling or what makes a good story. I’d like to see more filmmakers in my circuit less obsessed with the latest gimmick gear that will collect dust in a few weeks and more focused on learning the craft of what comprises a good story. If anything made me angry, it would be a film that relies on cheap devices such as tasteless humor, gratuitous sex, and violence. That, and a Deus Ex Machina ending, will get me throwing my popcorn at the screen.
Is there something you try to subvert or avoid or rebel against in your work?
Complacency. Complacency and Mediocrity.
How have you discovered members of your team, and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?
My projects are culturally heavy. I have my talent preview a treatment or outline of every new project to decide for themselves if it’s something they want to be involved with. I ask a lot of my cast, and I would never want someone working on a project they didn’t believe in, which is why I use my cast over on projects. I also write to the cast member once I know them, not just what they are good at but what would be an appropriate challenge for their talents.