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Anna Biller Interview (The Love Witch)

A still from the film The Love Witch where a well-dressed woman in a large, pink hat sits at a stylised, vintage restaurant table.

American independent filmmaker Anna Biller discusses her latest film, The Love Witch (2016), which investigates gender and psychology through the prisms of love and witchcraft. Following Viva (2007) and her preceding short films, the aesthetic of The Love Witch is a bricolage of different formalist reference points found across the writing, performance, sets, music and more. Through this unique world building, Biller explores the underlying narcissistic personality of the complex main character, Elaine, as well as a means to explore notions of fantasy, desire, patriarchal structures, craft, and meta-level symbolism, among its many themes.

Anna joined Christopher Heron over the phone to discuss these components of the film, its reception, critical misunderstandings of cinema history, and the realities of making films as a woman.

The Seventh Art: I was just reading the newly published article on Viva from MUBI.

Anna Biller: I liked that. A lot of people didn’t take Viva seriously when it first came out, but it seems people are taking it more seriously now. I did get a couple of academic pieces of writing on it, but I guess most journalism is pretty much on the surface [laughs].

I was reminded that it played at [International Film Festival] Rotterdam. It had that context then, but I guess the Internet and time level everything.

Yeah, even some of the reviews were trying to get it some more mainstream attention, so they were pushing it as something that was more populist, a sex comedy. It’s something that’s happening with The Love Witch, as well. I think critics like to pick up on what is the most popular aspect of the film and try to sell that so more people see it.

It’s a paradox. I guess they assume they’re doing a favour to you by doing that, but…

…if they were taking it more seriously, they would be doing me more of a favour [laughs], because I’d be considered more of a serious filmmaker, rather than… I don’t know what [laughs].

Another way to think of the problem is that they’re putting the movie into the wrong frame. People are characterising it as a lowbrow genre film that’s too long and slow for what it is, when actually it’s an art film that uses popular forms and techniques. People are scratching their heads, wondering why the acting is the way it is, and the pacing, and the deliberate design, when if they would put it into the correct frame none of that would seem strange at all. People recognise all of the elements individually: that it has a contemplative pace, declarative acting, a deliberately constructed mise-en-scène, and a thematic structure — all elements that should place it squarely in the art-film category And yet many characterise it as a cheap, sleazy genre film, or a one-line joke. The question is, why is it being put into the wrong frame?

I had read an interview with you before seeing The Love Witch, so I have to assume it altered my perception. I don’t think it would have been drastically different otherwise, but it certainly added something to a first viewing.

An expectation of watching something a little more trashy, maybe?

Yeah, it definitely removed that. I was more aware of the theoretical rigour.

Yeah, my interviews tend to be a little bit different than how other people talk about it. I’m a little more serious when I talk about things, but that’s how I think about things. I’m not trying to be pretentious or pretend I’m something I’m not; these are really the concerns I have when making a movie. I watch a lot of really serious cinema and think deeply about my themes. So I’m always a little surprised when a film comes out and people are looking at just the silliest, most surface aspects. They’re put there on purpose as a surface, but it isn’t all that’s there.

For someone who performs so many roles on this film [writer, director, producer, composer, editor, production designer, art director, costume designer, etc.], it seems like the screenwriting aspect gets talked about the least. I’m curious how that portion started and how it evolved before shooting.

The screenwriting was — in a way — the most important part of making The Love Witch. I started off with theme: wanting to make a movie about a femme fatale and to show her life from the inside. That’s a feminist project because sexualised, beautiful women in films are only ever looked at, usually, from the outside. I wanted to show her insides. All the films that I watch, that I talk about — the classic movies, some of the foreign movies, like [Ingmar] Bergman’s — the reason I get so much out of those films is because they have such interesting female characters. They’re so much more dimensional and you did see some of their insides. I just don’t see that very much now in filmmaking. I wanted to kind of bring that back, that was the most important thing, but also drawing heavily on my own life in terms of creating the actual events that happen in the film.

The Gertrude (1964) reference you’ve also made is interesting because it isn’t realist, it participates in a higher register performance style, but when a film like yours alters how the actors behave in a way that’s not the most contemporary realist style, people see it as an inherently negative quality.

I love symbolist theatre, I like things that are abstract, artistic and thematic. That’s a lot of what my taste is: Maeterlinck plays, things that are not sexploitation. [The films] are stylised, but not stylised from the sources that people think that they are. I think people take their own experience of stylised texts, which is limited for most people, and they compare it to that. Their only experience with stylisation may be Russ Meyer or John Waters.

I’d like to talk more about the well-roundedness you’re describing and the interior life of the Elaine character. One thing I found interesting about the film, which isn’t mentioned as much, is the basic point that she paints — someone who creates objects and approaching her world in that way. Yet she’s not described by this in writing on the film. What function did that serve for the character for you?

That’s what I do, I’m an artist and I make everything for my films. I’m constructing a world and I wanted that to be part of the movie: this idea of the artisanship of witchcraft. The idea that to create a film about witchcraft, you have to make a lot of objects that witches use. I wanted there to be a sense that she’s an artisan that’s crafting a world that’s very meaningful to her through objects and that’s what I do as a filmmaker. I wanted that connection to be there. The idea is that I’m sort of like Elaine because I’m a woman and I’m constructing my world, and she’s a woman and she’s constructing her world. I wanted that parallel to be there.

Would that be why she’s so adept at understanding the rules of the game, the world around her, and the psychology of the men she’s engaging with?

For me, that’s me trying to make a real feminine character, because women are intuitive. She’s an intuitive woman — she’s also an obedient woman and people don’t talk about that too much, either. She’s twisted and shaped herself to fit an ideal that men have created for how she should be. She’s actually trying to be accommodating, pleasant, and use love to shape her world. It doesn’t work, for various reasons. It doesn’t work because we live in a patriarchy where men are not really interested in women having power over them. It also doesn’t work because she’s become mentally ill in the process of transforming herself, so that she’s not very much able to give and receive love by the time that she’s doing these experiments.

I saw in an interview that you compared this to Frankenstein’s monster, because as you say, there’s a patriarchal structure and she’s not necessarily trying to topple it, she’s obedient to its rules, but the act of willingly conforming is like a too-human goal that doesn’t turn out how you planned.

Yeah, because it’s really about a power imbalance. You can’t change other people through witchcraft, a little through persuasion, but if you’re living in a culture where men insist on being dominant and that’s their main joy in life, you’re not going to succeed in actually being dominant over a man. It’s the fact that she’s trying to become dominant through becoming passive that it became a kind of demonic project that was bound to fail.

When she’s engaging with Wayne and asks whether he’s a Libertine and he responds about different time periods engaging with this differently, it reminded me of texts on so-called Satanism. It is sometimes portrayed as having an Utopian, mutual participation between genders, but in this context, he uses his knowledge of this as a way to keep her from discussing it further.

She’s playing a game and they’re playing a game, as well. There’s another way to look at how they fall apart. You could say it’s because she cast a spell on them or she gave them a drug, or on the other hand you could say they’re falling apart because this fantasy of love she has, as soon as they’ve got the woman they want, they become very unhappy. They’ve conquered and that’s what they wanted, they don’t really want to be staying there with that woman after they’ve conquered her. [Laughs] So this is where this gets into realism. Then it becomes all about them, she shifts from being the whore to the mommy. “Oh, mommy it hurts,” then they’re weak and crying, and want mommy to patch everything up for them. It’s what happens when men get married, actually.

Beyond realist experience, was there any investigation into psychology? You’ve mentioned in other interviews gestalt therapy, fetishes, and she mentions parapsychology in the film.

Oh yeah, I did, I read a lot of psychology books — probably even more than witchcraft books when I was writing this. I was trying to understand the narcissistic personality disorder, but also a lot of stuff about gender. I was reading Jung, a lot of Adler, and older psychology to understand how these dynamics work. I’ve always been really interested in gender psychology and theory. You have to take all of that and turn it into characters and make it into a drama, try to not have it be too didactic. That’s where my experience comes in and that’s also where my love of cinema comes in. You take all this theory and psychology and you turn it into a story, and you try to make that story simple, archetypal, and also cinematic. What ends up happening with my work is my interest in making it cinematic is where all the attention goes. You mention that people don’t notice the screenplay or the themes as much as they notice the craft, where you turn it into cinema using lighting techniques, design techniques, to try to bring you story to life. That’s the stage that people focus on with my work — it seems — the craft, the cinematic side.

I know you’ve mentioned that if this was literature, would there be the same hang-up over style. Maybe with more established media, where a new book chose to engage in a 19th Century style, it would just be seen as a choice that was made as opposed to “Why is this different from everything else that is coming out?”

Yeah, I think about that all the time. If you were to write a novel in the 19th Century style, let’s say — as you said — would that be all everyone talked about? That you were using language that was a bit archaic? They probably wouldn’t. I think it’s because cinema is so tied into the mainstream market and there are expectations. Since movies mostly all look the same, people think they all look the same is because the technology has changed, and that’s the only way movies can look: how they look now. They think the reason people act the way they do in movies now is because that’s better or realistic acting and the acting of the past was bad. So if you show them a movie that doesn’t look like new movies and people don’t act [in it] the way they act in new movies, they don’t understand it. It makes them question everything else they’re watching and realise everything they watch, the filmmaker is making a choice. That they’re making choices that are different than the choices that I’m making. It makes them question their whole viewership. I think that’s what makes people so excited… and sometimes upset.

Are you concerned that it hampers the ability for the communication of a specific meaning?

Absolutely. Yeah, it actually for many people absolutely destroys their ability to engage with the movie in terms of what it’s doing. For me, because I watch so many classic movies, I don’t have any sense of it being different [laughs] from other movies, because it’s so similar to movies I watch. I think probably my core audience is classic movie fans because they don’t have these hang-ups or problems with the style.

One other thing that’s interesting is that people are ascribing [the style] to a type of movie that didn’t really exist, they’re just inheriting an idea that it’s a sexploitation film or a [Mario] Bava type film, but if you’ve see those films, they don’t really apply.

They don’t apply at all and that’s what’s so interesting: they are inventing a genre that didn’t exist and then saying I’m copying that genre. Then they go into detail about how I do that, it’s so fascinating. There was one reviewer that talked about a whole genre of witchcraft movies from the ’60s and ’70s about witches creating love spells that didn’t quite work out, they were sort of comic and had sex scenes… there was not a single film made like that in the history of cinema [laughs]. There was one film that was made, it was called Bell, Book and Candle (1958), it was a studio movie from the 1950s and there was the TV series Bewitched (1964-72) with that theme. Then from the ’40s there was I Married a Witch (1942) and as far as I know, those were the only three things with that sort of plot that that person describes [laughs]. This whole ‘genre’ and they’re studio films, not low budget movies, b-movies, sexploitation movies. It’s fascinating to me that people are inventing this.

It’s also interesting that when they do discuss the form — when they’re only focused on the form — they’re not really interested in each choice as an individual decisions. Maybe not even related to one another in a recreation project. 

They’re also mainly not looking at the forms that I actually am referencing. A few people do mention Hitchcock, who I directly visually reference, but I don’t directly visually reference anything from Russ Meyer or giallo films or anything else that they compare it to. There might be something surrounding hysteria about female sexuality, I’m thinking, presented from a female point of view — that that makes people nervous, maybe. It might be something to do with me being a female filmmaker and that females can’t make meaning on their own, but they can copy. I’m not sure. I think it’s entirely possible if I was a man, there was a man’s name on this movie, that none of this would really be happening. I’m not sure, but I think it’s possible.

It could also be because there’s a political component to it that I think people are maybe trying to compartmentalise. If you look at someone like Wes Anderson, someone who is very in control of the mise-en-scene as well, I think people are comfortable with that because they’re not also feeling like there’s a greater political project at play — like an understanding of gender, which is political.

Yeah, that’s right, it’s political. I think all of the reviews are politicised in some way. I don’t think they have to be, it’s a story and I’m creating a piece of cinema and it can be talked about on that level without having to be politicised.

To pursue these formal questions at a more specific level, how was your relationship with M. David Mullen while shooting the film?

We had a fantastic relationship because we were completely on the same page. I interviewed dozens of DPs and I knew none of them could do what I wanted to do, but I knew he could because I’ve worked with him before. When I was interviewing people, I was mainly trying to get them to talk about lighting to see if they were interested in lighting and to see what kinds of things they had to say about lighting. I have to say, out of dozens of qualified DPs with good resumes, I didn’t meet with anyone who was actually even interested in lighting or discussing it. The thing is that to create this beautiful look that I wanted, it’s all about the lighting. I guess DPs, I don’t know, they don’t tend to learn lighting or focus on it or have it be part of the aesthetic for them. Things need to be illuminated so you can see things, but I don’t think DPs are so much studying lighting. That’s the whole key to getting this movie looking the way it looks and I knew that because from the time that I was making my first student films, I didn’t like the lighting. I studied lighting to understand what it was, how to get the images I wanted. I’ve been trying to light this way ever since I started shooting film, so I knew the importance of it. But it’s also time consuming and involves a lot of skill. So my DP for Viva did a good job, but he was very slow because he wasn’t as experienced and that can be death for your days, because you go over twelve hours and it kills the crew. I knew I needed somebody who could do it and do it quickly — and masterfully — and this was David. I knew David was an expert on this.

This would be portrait lighting?

Yeah, it’s basic three point lighting, yeah, but there are a lot of things you need to know to light an entire set, pre-light a set from a grid. It’s complicated because now people are using soft lights where you don’t have to control the light as much. It’s a basic glow that you’re creating. But with hard lights, you have to control the light and shape it. It has to be shaped with scrims and flats and nets and barn doors. You’re painting with light, making painting, and it’s complicated because you have to make the light look good for the wide shot of the set and then you have to re-light every side of the shot so that if you go in for a medium shot, you have to make the light more precise on the faces. Then if you go in for a close-up, you do something else. You’re lighting actors, so you have to have eye lights so their eyes ping — sometimes put out a flag to shadow the forehead. There are all these things that you do and it’s complicated. There are filters for softening women’s faces especially and it’s beautiful, it’s like a whole lost art, and David is even more of a fetishist than me. He’s been studying this since he was a kid. I went to the same school as him. I kept asking him and asking him, and he was busy and said no. So I didn’t shoot until he was available [laughs] because I just knew. I kept trying to find other people, but in the end I knew that I had to have him in order to get it to come out right.

Did you board most of your shots because it seems that there’s a consistent approach with them, beyond even the lighting: how characters are blocked in scenes, how singles are set-up with the set seen clearly in the background and the actors centred usually.

Yeah, everything was boarded and I did some larger paintings, as well. It’s interesting you mention seeing the set behind people, because it’s a whole process where you design the sets that way ahead of time for the shots that you’re going to need. When I’m designing the living room set of the apartment, I make sure there’s depth on both sides. There’s depth going back into the dining room and depth going back into the magic room. You have windows on the other side for depth and a fire place on the other side, archways, and every wall has a painting or vase — some kind of interest. You have texture and depth going all the way back so you always have a good shot. There is always something to capture, you know? I really think about that when I prepare my sets. You have a couch and you have a dining room way in the back that’s blue, and you have a living room that’s orange and red, which stays in front. You can get a beautiful two-shot of two people sitting on a couch, going back in that depth, and you also know that when you get the singles, you’ll have depth going the other way. I think about that when I’m designing.

Did you also have an idea for the colour palette and how that would mesh with your interest in symbolism or certain themes that you want to articulate in each scene?

Yeah, mainly in Elaine’s apartment it was all symbolic from a Thoth tarot deck. The movie is about gender polarity in witchcraft, so the sun is the masculine element and the moon is the feminine element. I had her living room be the sun colours (orange, yellow and red), and her magic room and dining room be the moon colours (blue, purple and white). The colours that people wore — the Renaissance Fair was a summer solstice festival so it was all yellow, gold, marigold and yellow daisies. There’s this colour symbolism that goes throughout the film. Because she was falling in love with him and he’s a man, his masculine was shining down upon her, it was all about celebrating her finding this man who is a golden man. I thought about everything that way. In the tea room, it’s all pink and peach at the beginning because it’s supposed to represent ladies, female space, and then later Trish and Elaine are opposite colours. Trish is in black because she’s in mourning and Elaine is in white because she feels she’s about to be a bride. People in the background are mainly in white, so the idea is that at the beginning they were becoming friends and wearing the same colour, and at the end they’re on opposite sides and enemies although they don’t know that yet. These seem like very obvious colour choices to make as far as symbolism, but they work for the audience because when you see two people sitting on opposite sides of the table and one is in black and one in white, it has an emotional-psychological effect on the audience. I have that two-shot, where I’m not shooting it the same way, either. Rather than shooting mostly an over-the-shoulders where they relate to one another, it’s either in singles or a two-shot where they seem very far away from one another.

You mentioned the affect this has on the viewer, which also comes up with the duration with your scenes. It seems like a lot of things we’re talking about are a tension that exists between a specific meaning on your behalf and the ability for that to be legible with an audience that has different viewing habits. How do you determine the length you choose for a scene, specifically the ones that push at that norm?

Again, when I watch newer movies, I can’t stand the way they’re edited because I feel like it’s really not about establishing people relating to one another in a conversation as much as it’s about getting a feeling of movement. But there’s not a lot of psychological movement in these movies, there’s just a lot of physical movement, so the camera is drifting slightly or whipping or cutting or drifting to the hands then back to the face or kind of wandering here and there, but nothing is actually happening in the dialogue — nothing interesting or exciting is happening psychologically. I go for psychological movement, movement in the mind. Most of my favourite directors do that, as well, so I’m very interested in Dreyer and Bergman, Ozu. Nobody compares me to those directors because I’m doing something much more romantic and populist, a bit more like Hitchcock, but I’m interested in the camera be still so you can actually watch people: their facial expressions, listen to their conversation. The length of things is determined by what needs to happen in the scene, what needs to occur between people, what points need to be made, what shifts need to happen.

I make these scenes as short as I possibly can to convey that because if you make a scene that has a dramatic weight between people, if you make it too short, it becomes very comic, silly. Some of my scenes are too short. There’s a scene, for example, where Wayne picks up Elaine in the park. That’s unrealistically brief for a pick-up. They don’t get to know one another at all. If I was more interested in realism, that scene would go on for five or six minutes, or there would even be several intermediary scenes before they go back to his cabin. I’m always trying to balance getting something done in terms of realistic, psychological connection with speed and expediency, and it’s not easy to do.

When it comes to the set pieces, you’re more willing to go longer on those ones. It’s interesting how you refer to not moving the camera so much, because when this style is used in foreign films it’s called ‘contemplative’. In this sense, it’s trance-like in those longer scenes.

Again, none of these scenes is that long. The longest scene would be the Renaissance Fair. That scene is a long scene, but it’s a scene that is broken up in many different sections, a lot of different things happen. First they have to discover and be enchanted by something, then you’re finding out about what happens at a summer solstice ritual, they’re watching the action and see their friends, they eventually get married, and then they have to a conflict in their minds. There are a lot of things that have to happen in that scene, a number of complex things. If you’re just looking at this scene and thinking, “It’s a dumb silly Renaissance Fair and there’s a song, why is it taking ten minutes?” Then you’re not really looking at the scene. One thing I spent time on that scene and spent time in the tea room [scene] — these are the most important scenes thematically. I want the audience to be immersed and to remember them, to find them important. If that pick-up scene had been important, I would have stayed on it a long time. If it had been something I wanted people to really sink in on and remember. That’s one thing you do with length, you signal what scenes are the most important.

I’ve heard people say that the Renaissance scene could have been cut out or it was silly, extraneous, or what was it even doing there — it means that people aren’t following the story [laughs]. Or it means they can’t think metaphorically or something, because really that scene is the key to the whole movie. That’s really more the kind of filmmaking that I love, the kind of filmmaking that you can tell a story through spectacle and you can tell it through metaphor. It’s also where her fantasies played out, so those two scenes — the tea room and the Renaissance Fair — are where her inner life, her inner fantasies are played out. I think those scenes are more important than the scenes where she strips for a man, you know what I’m saying? What’s sad to me, to go back to an earlier point we were discussing, is that people are missing that when they’re discussing the meaning of the movie when they talk about it as sexploitation. They’re placing undue weight on scenes of her stripping or seducing someone and they’re placing very little weight on the scenes that are the most important, which have to do with her inner fantasy life — what she wants.

It’s almost as if they’re engaging with it as if the film has been made for their voyeuristic fantasies, as opposed to maybe yours as the artist — the things you want to see.

Yeah, exactly. Their voyeuristic fantasies, I’m not trying to be not generous, there is plenty of material for them, but the way I’ve edited it is for my voyeuristic fantasies, which have to do with showing a pink tea room and staying in that room or staying in the Renaissance Fair. A lot of people have said that I have a problem with my editing, like I don’t know how to edit [laughs]. It’s all very intentional. People refuse to see that I am more serious in my cinema goals, so for example, a put a touch of Dreyer or Ozu or Akerman in there because I’m drawing from them as well. People don’t see Jeanne Dielmann… (1975) as too long, because they know that they’d be missing the point [laughs]. My Renaissance Fair scene is not too long compared to a scene in an actual art movie. I get this argument because it’s a “silly-frilly sexploitation movie” and because it’s that kind of movie it’s too long. They’re aware when they say that that they first have to say, “I’m someone who likes art films and who understands them, but that ain’t what this is and therefore…”  I think a lot of the criticism is saying, “This person has a lot of pretensions towards being a serious director and she’s not, and because she’s not her film should only be 70 minutes long because that’s the length of dumb, throwaway trash movies – that’s the length those movies should be and that’s what this is.” That’s a political thing, too. There’s a political dimension to saying that female fantasy is dumb and trashy.

It’s also an interesting parallel between you and Elaine, because she’s willing to engage in the rules of the game — in this sense, being aware of the conventions of American cinema of the past, but wanting to engage more deeply, and that’s off-putting to people.

Oh sure it is. I was aware, for example, when constructing that Renaissance Fair scene or the tea room scene that I was going to get flak for it. I’m always aware what’s going to cause a controversy or problem. I’m aware of the things that are going to seem corny, too feminine to people, the things that are going to seem too long, too latent. I go ahead and do them anyway, so it’s not like I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m doing all this on purpose as a social experiment, because it’s not the most important thing to me to have the most popular film, but it is important to me to actually do these kind of cinematic experiments and see what happens. It’s really important to me as an artist to push up against, not only ideas about gender, but ideas of what cinema is and what cinema can be. I think I’ve been successful in the sense that people are talking about… not always respectfully… but people are talking about the film in terms of how it was made, who made it, how it was constructed, which means people are looking at it not just as being as real and washing over them, not thinking about how it’s made. That makes it an art movie, I think. There’s this invisibility to how films are made that I’m trying to get out of.

The verisimilitude, the invisible realism.

And to me, newer movies seem less realistic than older movies because the craft is worse. I think objectively worse. For example, the craft of lighting is meant to make you see reality the way we see it with our eyes, because our eyes are so much more dimensional than a camera lens. They see so much more depth and colour and separation than a camera, so you have to add artificial lighting to see the world through a camera the way you would see it with your eyes. You have to have a lot of craft, training and acting to make what you’re doing feel believable — a lot of training that people don’t have anymore. To me, the older movies were more realistic because they were better at illusionism. Just like how you can’t take a paint brush and painting what you see, because you won’t be creating illusionism, you have to train to create illusionism. I really don’t think of what I’m doing as being stylised so much as I’m trying to create illusionism the way that people used to.

The standard of illusionism changes to something that is more objectively chaotic and not really invisible.

Yeah, a really good example would be a handheld camera is much less like how we see the world because we have vision stabilisation, which means that when we’re standing looking at something, our eyes don’t appear to have the film wavering around in a random way. What we see appears fixed, even though we might be swaying slightly or moving slightly, our vision is fixed. When we’re walking, the image in front of us seems to be smoothed out the way that is when you have a dolly. Using a dolly, using a tripod are much better ways to imitate human perception than not using them. Not using them doesn’t remind you of anything other than that there’s a handheld camera there. To me, that takes me out of the reality of the film, it just makes me aware of the production.

When you referred to this film as a social experiment, I’m wondering if there’s data that you’ve collected from the experience that’s going to play into what you work on next?

Yes, absolutely. I keep learning how to make a movie that people can get absorbed in a bit better. I’m actually quite accommodating and learn from my mistakes, not that I think that this film is a mistake. I like to take away people’s barriers between being able to appreciate the content, so I think I’ve learned how to do that a little bit better. I think part of that has to do with being a little less arty about the structure of my script. I think that’s really where it starts from, the structure of your script. I was trying to be kind of conventional, but I was being very playful, as I said. People don’t understand how much of their reaction comes from the structure of my script, which has a few unconventional moments. The unconventional things in the script are really what people are responding to, but they don’t think that’s what they’re responding to [laughs]. So I’ve written a script that’s very conventional structurally. That’s my experiment this time, to see how that works.

Are you going to maintain the aesthetic interests that you have or will that change with the script?

It doesn’t have to change, except that depending on the kind of budget structure I get and the amount of creative control I get, it could change. I’m a little concerned about that, because depending on where you get your money… [laughs] I don’t think I’ll want to spend seven years again making a movie, so I’ll have to do this one for more money, and when you have more money you have more pressure to give away more tasks to more department. We’ll see what happens, I’m hoping to get creative control, but I don’t know how much I’ll have. I’ll still do sketches and paintings for everything and hopefully some of that can get incorporated into the movie. ❏

By Christopher Heron

Christopher Heron is one of the co-founders of The Seventh Art. He's conducted over 60 long-form interviews for the publication, while also writing and cutting several numerous video essays that investigate formal traits in films and filmmakers. He received his MA in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto, where his work explored cinematic representations of urban space with special attention paid to the films of Pedro Costa and Tsai Ming-liang.