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netribution > features > interview with david barlia > page one
I first experienced David Barlia's work at a Peeping Toms screening after which he kindly gave me a copy of his short film video, and very well received, in my household, it was too! By the time it came to interview David I was suffering from one of the worst common colds I've ever experienced, with the nausea and the relentless streams of nasal mu....well, you get the picture. David has been specialising in silent filmmaking and Voyage to Death, a take from the introduction to The Arabian Nights was so enjoyable that I had little choice but to unpeel myself from a bed soiled by a night's illness, jump on the monster bike, and tear strips off the Sunday drivers the 3 miles round the A41 to West Hampstead. The interview, conducted over a hearty Focaccia sandwich in the nearby La Brocca, was sniffingly enjoyable but David put me right on my presumption that he'd actually attempted to capture the rusty sentimentality of the silent era.

| by tom fogg |
| photos by tom fogg and stills from the film|
| in london |

How did you become involved in film?
I first became involved in film when I went to San Francisco State University, I did a years work in their film department and made 3 films before I moved down to the theatre department. I wanted to get back into acting myself and to get some more experience working with actors, to get a better sense of how to direct actors. I star in most of my films anyway which I thoroughly enjoy so there was actually little need to learn that at that time. I only really took a few courses and felt I was learning a lot from making my films but not a great deal from the courses themselves, what I got from the courses was a little inspiration and the togetherness from other aspiring filmmakers. We had a few film parties which was very nice and helped a lot but you don't really need film courses, Peeping Toms is a good gathering for that and there are plenty of others as well.

How do you see yourself as a silent screen actor?
Well, what I really want to do is to go beyond a sentimental recreation of the old silent era and to take a more modern approach but within that there is a lot that can be don when you restrict yourself to silent filmmaking, necessity is the mother of invention, when you can't express ideas through dialogue then you have to find new ways. That really started by being limited to Super 8 at university, its very awkward to use sound with Super 8 so it was pure financial necessity. I tend to see myself in the parts that I write, its not a case of writing myself in as a character but rather seeing myself in a character as an actor and a filmmaker at the same time.

Are you happy to continue with the silent format?
I keep tossing that around in my head, I really should do something with spoken dialogue and I will, partly because its the accepted norm of progression but I'd actually love to make a silent feature and even keep the same strict use of intertitles, I regard them as cheating actually and I only really use them where essential, to further the plot. I think I'd approach spoken dialogue entirely differently.

Would you consider treating Black & White film stock or applying the conventions of costume and make up that one associates with silent film to your work?
Well I really don't want to make something that looks so period. I'm trying to use older methods to tackle contemporary subject matter like that of my next film, Hot Sex & Stan, a story of a frustrated young man who responds to an advert in the personals looking for adult fun. In terms of subject matter that's something you'd never find in a Harold Lloyd movie I think a bunch of flowers is as saucy as he gets!

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