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netribution > features > interview with james rogan > page two
Is it Leone's continuous method of tension that appeals?
Twenty minutes of exposition, without dialogue, waiting for a gunman to arrive. There's nothing to increase tension more than watching people do all those mundane things to pass an awkward period of time. His use of close up and wide angle doesn't give you any middle ground and a mid shot just isn't very interesting, it's necessary sometimes but it's not as interesting as looking at someone's face.

Why did you shoot Dead Bolt Dead on Super16?
Because film is my passion and it’s a technical medium, if you remove the technical restraints in some way you lose some of the cinematic qualities. You can't shoot a film with a video camera like you do with a film camera. There's a film at one of the festivals that uses legs and heads and tracks and some Steadicam with a digital camera but you are left wondering why, apart from the money, they didn't use film because the image is just not as strong. Dogme filmmakers use the DV medium integrally in their work and that's a totally different thing. I'd love to make a film on DV but not until I know how to make films, it's all very well for Wim Wenders to go back to video because he is an excellent filmmaker.

Who are your modern, cinematic influences?
I'm a great fan of David Lynch, Wild at Heart, I think Lost Highway was a bit much and I love the Coen brothers to pieces because they have their own language and they make films on their own terms. They don't compromise for the audience who have to sit down in front of a Coen brothers film and have to change their criteria of watching a film. To pull off that in modern cinema is so rare and I respect them for it, even Tarantino hasn't managed to do that since Pulp Fiction. Jackie Brown was a great movie but he'd set himself up for a fall because the audience were expecting classic Tarantino. Brother, where art thou is an absolute gem of a movie, I watched it in Edinburgh amongst a slew of other films and you just realise how much of an impression a film can make in those circumstances. Something that I picked up there is the notion that Brit filmmakers have trouble creating tangible tension in their movies.
Going back a few years though, David Lean could do it with ease.
Sure, I defy any man to take a girl to see Dr Zhivago at the cinema and not get it on with her! It happened to me in all innocence, I wanted a simple friendship and it turned out a little sticky! Get Carter, despite everyone going on about grimy Northern movies, it has great tension throughout as does The Third Man, at the end when Harry Lime is dashing through the tunnels, you are really feeling it. You don't get those feelings these days.

Why, do you think?
It’s a tough question. I think that the obvious answer is that we are in a style before character trend at the moment and plot before character as well, tension must come from the character. It can't happen any other way than the audience being involved in the character on screen. Lock, Stock is a great example in that everything that happens does revolve around tension but revolves instead around the caper aspect. It s just a case of putting bigger and bigger events for the audience and the only true moments of tension are when you realise that they are going to lose all the money and at the end with the guns on the bridge. Other than that the movie is more about funny set pieces that aren't tense and the pleasure comes from the accents and the mouthing off, its good but you aren't gripped. Hollywood action movies, despite the criticism they receive, understand tension a lot better but it’s the Asians that understand tension the most, even in their worst films the opening shots are so well chosen for you.

Are you interested in doing a documentary?
I've done them before but I wouldn't do it in the same way, I'd script it and I'd take a decent crew with me. I went about shooting as much footage as I could and trying to weave a narrative into it afterwards, that was the wrong way to do it.

Are you interested in Dogme?
Very but I come down in the camp of not being pro digital. I think Dogme's superb but what I think people must realise is that they are great filmmakers making films with digital cameras, it doesn't mean that an average filmmaker can do the same.

What did you think of Dancer in the Dark?
Really liked it but then I love musicals. West Side Story is one of my favourite films but the musical aspect of Dancer in the Dark is a little weak because the songs weren't the great. What I found really interesting was the way it was challenging audio and visually throughout the film, I know It sounds pretentious but when Bjork's character was singing to the rhythm of her own heartbeat, the trap door opens and the credits roll. It completely cuts off your emotions.

What are you plans for the near future?
I might take another year out from the degree to make another film. I've had that urge recently but I've got a coupe of projects that I'd like to get started on. My next big challenge and heartfelt project is a Spanish film, in Spanish and it’s the story of one man's struggle to repopulate his village. There is a big problem in Spain with urban migration, villages are becoming ghost towns and this particular village has only 26 people living in it. It’s a beautiful village in the mountains, 75% of those remaining are over 70 and these 2 brothers own the village bar which is the only commercial outlet left.

Are you interested in the Method?
Yes, I've read all about Stanislavsky now and I'm experimenting with it in a play in Oxford.

What was the first film you ever watched?
Return of the Jedi.

Are you religious?
I believe in a religion's qualities and I once made a documentary on Catholicism which is why I have such a deep respect for it.

Favourite writer?

Favourite film?
I really don't know.

Favourite living actor?
It sounds strange but I love to see Jeff Bridges on screen.

Favourite dead actor?
Orson Welles.

Do you like cricket?

Have you read any books by Gabriel Garcia Marquez?
No, but they've been recommended, I'm stuck in ancient literature at the moment.

Are you interested in classical music?
Yes but I'm not very knowledgable.


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