AC: Mike, that quote from Mark Cousins about you being a "jazz film maker". Does that sum you up accurately do you think?
MF: Well its true that I love jazz. I also love cinema. Jazz seems to encompass exactly the elements I love about film making. Jazz is music that comes from the heart. It engages our emotions and pulls on our heart strings. Jazz is a four-letter word, yet when you say it, it seems to be made up of so many more "jaaaaaaaazzzzzzzzzzzzz". Film is almost exactly the same. Except it doesnt score as much in Scrabble.
AC: Your love of music comes across very strongly in your films, in fact you compose the score for all your movies. How much does music influence the way you set about making a film?
MF: Music is vital to my movies. It surrounds them and penetrates them. It binds the narrative together. I approach every one of my films as if it were a piece of music. Films have a rhythm, a tempo. I dont write a screenplay, I compose it. I dont direct it, I conduct. Instead of musicians I have actors. Instead of a musical stave I have a screen. I have no instruments to play with but I suppose that you could say I play my actors instead.
AC: You certainly play with some of them. Youre going out with the lead actress from your last film arent you?
MF: Id rather not comment on my relationship with Saffy.
AC: Of course not I wasnt trying to pry.
MF: Shes extremely good looking. Thats all Im willing to say about it.
AC: As your films are so personal are you ever disappointed that more people dont go to see them?
MF: Big box office returns dont interest me. If Ive connected with just one person, if my work has engaged them, then Im satisfied.
MF: I wanted to talk to you about, Ive Had Lots of Sex. The film follows a man from boyhood to adulthood and recounts his various sexual encounters. The main narrative is interwoven with a stylised version of the Adam and Eve story. It was critically mauled on release and Sight and Sound called it "a fresh, steaming turd upon the concrete pavement of British cinema". Did that sort of reaction hurt you at all?
MF: Yes to a certain extent it did. I just dont think people really got the idea behind the picture. What I was attempting to do with the film was a study into the restrictive sexual mores of Britain. Its a snapshot series of scenes from the life of one man. It shows us how weve changed over the years. It also shows us how far we have to go.
AC: The main character was clearly based on yourself wasnt he?
MF: No. The film was entirely fictional.
AC: Oh come on.
MF: Do you really think that Im so lacking in imagination that I just made a poorly-conceived vanity piece that was entirely designed to flatter my ego? How shallow do you think I am?
AC: Well there is quite a lot of evidence to suggest that.
MF: For example?
AC: Well the fact that the main character is called Nick Findus. That does sound remarkably similar to your name doesnt it?
AC: He plays the trumpet.
AC: What instrument do you play again?
MF: The trumpet. But so what? Roy Castle played the trumpet I dont see you berating him like this.
AC: Theres also the small fact that Nick Findus grows up to be a film maker
MF: The world is full of film makers.
who at various times lives in Carlisle, Newcastle, and Kenya just like you? Except you lived in Penrith rather then Carlisle.
MF: No I lived in Carlisle.
AC: So having established that the main story is based on your life, can you explain what all the Adam and Eve stuff is all about?
MF: Its merely a visual metaphor. It illustrates the loss of innocence that I, er I mean that the character undergoes as the story unfolds.
AC: So its not an utterly desperate attempt to be arty by employing a desperately contrived and clichéd subplot?
MF: Can we talk about my new film please?
AC: Okay, your new film Off-Line Edit has all been shot on digital camcorders. Why did you decide to shoot it that way?
MF: I shot it on a digital camcorder format mainly because I was sick of the way that movies cost so much to make. There has to be a cheaper way to do it. Shooting digitally allows me a freedom that I could never get with film. Plus Ive been able to employ new techniques that have never been attempted in the history of the motion picture.
AC: And what are those?
MF: Well instead of just shooting with one camera, Ive used four. The whole film has been shot in real time and the screen is split into four images. The sound from each image is faded up or down to concentrate your attention onto each image as necessary. Its a revolutionary technique, which as I say, has never before been attempted in the history of motion pictures.
AC: And whats the idea of doing it like that?
MF: How do you mean?
AC: Well if you make a film using such a deliberately different story telling technique you must have had a reason for it.
MF: Didnt I mention that it hasnt been attempted before in the history of cinema?
AC: Yes you did but it doesnt answer my question. Well?
MF: Yes, Im thinking
AC: You havent got an answer have you?
MF: Of course I do.
AC: Well what is it then?
MF: Its complicated. I think we should leave it at that.
AC: You just did it to be cool didnt you?
MF: Yes. All right I admit it. Happy now?
AC: Yes I am actually. Mike Fungus, thank you.