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netribution > features > interview with david barlia > page two

Do you think silent film could become fashionable in a post modern sense?
You see it here and there anyway but it would be funny if it did, shooting something as old fashioned as silent film on the latest digital equipment is an odd contradiction. Regardless of that concept, you can achieve practically anything through dialogue but its almost too easy, someone says something which the audience understands and that's it. But when you are expressing something purely visually I think it stimulates more in the audience's minds, there is more to engage with because there's a sort of puzzle that one has to undo. Obviously the same can be accomplished with dialogue but you need to find a way of dancing around the issue in order to find the indirect approach. I like Chekhov for that very reason, he can put together a scene with some quite mundane dialogue and yet the reader feels that there is something more important underneath the surface. That somehow creates a magic.

What silent filmmakers, if any, inspire you?
I'm not as well versed as I should be. I wouldn't say that I find myself going back to any particular filmmaker from the silent era but when it comes to comedy in film, you can't help but be affected by the Marx brothers, Charlie Chaplain or Buster Keaton.

From watching your films one notices a definite style of camera work.Like the character walking directly into and then out of the lens, a lot! From whom do you get those techniques?
Yeah, I've gotta cut that out! I think I just gather up a repertoire of shots I like when I see them but, I do remember first seeing that particular shot in Terry Gilliam's, Brazil and I was just completely grabbed by it. I like camera work that thoroughly involves the audience in the action, I mean in ways where the action comes practically off the screen. A greater use of depth is what I'm after, I'm especially proud of a shot in my film, PED where I actually kiss the lens and it makes the viewer feel very unsettled. It has them squirming in their seats which is exactly what I want, that's one that's definitely better on a big screen because it really overtakes you!

What inspired 'Voyage to Death', the myth or the piece of music?
Well actually my flatmate was finishing a course in film and tv design at Kingston University and she chose The Arabian Nights as her theme, she saw some Super 8 footage I'd shot of the middle eastern pavilion in Brighton and, being inspired by that, she thought that we should incorporate her designs in a film so that's what we did. I'd really never had the chance to work with such fantastic designs, the costumes and the sets all just worked beautifully, of course the middle eastern style of the pavilion helped. All the location shots were a huge challenge because we couldn't exactly clear the beach of tourists or clear the water of sailboats, all around the pavilion are more tourists, electric lights, modern buildings in the background, cars and buses in the streets, you have to find some way of avoiding them. Some of the shots actually became more interesting because there were things to avoid, I had to get more creative about it, you couldn't just point the camera and shoot. We really had to fight to avoid all those modern baddies. With the sea shots there were all these brightly coloured sailboats littering the horizon and then, miraculously, they all just disappeared for about 5 minutes for us to shoot. The whole movie was shot in just two days but the costumes were the impetus.

What was your motivation for making 'A Cat, a Horse and the Sun'?
It was job related, I was working for a multimedia company in which we were playing with the idea of animating poems and turning them into an interactive storybook, that's something that has already been done with children's books, so this was a pilot piece. I don't think the company has moved forward or done anything with that since, that was the first piece of animation I've ever attempted, as an artist certainly, and people have said that I should think about getting into it more. I really enjoyed that though for most part, it took about 2 weeks after a limit of a week, yes it took a week to draw the stills. I've always been intrigued by animation but there was one cartoon called The Family Dog, either directed or executive produced by Steven Spielberg, which contained a 360 degree pan that was wonderful. You see the dog half asleep in the corner as the camera seemingly pans around the empty room, returns to the dog slowly falling asleep. This happens 4 or 5 times with the dog being closer and closer each time and it occurred to me that, to achieve that, you'd track across one long drawn strip like an Escher drawing. It was just marvellous and I managed to hang on to that technique slightly, it was only a 90 degree pan in mine!

Would you like to make more of those for the Children's TV market?
Yeah I'd love to. It suits me because my imagination is very visual and in animation there are no limits, certainly i terms of computer animation and its really nice to see how that is being used inventively in conventional filmmaking. In Fightclub for example or in a film coming over here soon that I saw in the States called, Breakfast Of Champions. So sure I'd do more animation, there are only so many things that one can do at one time but I'd certainly prefer that to my day job.

Would you try to instil any sense of ethics into those cartoons?
No. I find the whole concept thoroughly repelling, really and it usually comes across as very artificial, tiresome and American, something the Simpsons do a fine job of taking the piss out of!. No, I find morality as a little too religious for a place in animation, rules laid sown from a higher authority if you like and I believe that those rules must come from within. Justice in my films is evident though, justice carried out or miscarriages of justice, there is no revenge taking place but if i'm going to be true to life I'll let the bad guys win, if only to show how much damage they can do.

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