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netribution > features > interview with mike figgis > page two




Were there problems with the actors' friends and agents accidentally interrupting the shoot, on the street scenes for example?
Sometimes, it wasn't a problem though and I did make it quite clear to everybody that if things like that did happen, so what? It’s a film, we all know how films are made so if something real were to happen within a fantasy, go with it. These things make really good stories after filming and I may be on a chat show in 9 months time and find myself exaggerating the moment horribly to make a good story out of it. The truth is it really didn't happen much and when it did it was nice for the actors to talk about it. They are nice, personal things.

And did it add to the anarchy?
There wasn't much anarchy actually, this thing was run like an army operation, like a guerrilla army operation but it couldn't have worked unless everybody had been really disciplined. The degree of concentration was greater than any film I've ever worked on. 93 minutes of complete concentration, 27 actors, about 20 crew, collectively that's a very nice feeling. The complete exhaustion afterwards, people lying on the floor dripping in sweat. There's nothing as satisfying as putting that much work towards something. The appearances of anarchy are contained within a very evolved and intelligent system that had arrived within 2 weeks of the start of the working process.

What was it like surrendering control to the actors and DP's for the entire shoot?
Not really. Again, I'd given them a huge amount of responsibility and within the 93 minute period, of course, I would never interrupt. Even on my camera I was still directing and if someone said something really funny off camera, I'd find them and say, "say it again, say it again!" or I'd move in and ask for more. So it is possible to direct on camera.

You first used split screen in Miss Julie.
Yeah. It reawakened a fascination with that kind of multi story telling, something that I hadn't played with since I'd done performance art. It felt comfortably like returning to familiar area of work that had been dormant for some time though.

How would you compare Time Code to Miss Julie?
Well Miss Julie is actually far more experimental than Time Code in the sense that I've never done a real play before, I've done loads of performance art and improvisation and other mad stuff. I've never done a Shakespeare or a Strindberg, I've never done a conventional play. For me it was very experimental to have to deal with very set moments of text and so on.


On a different note The Loss of Sexual Innocence would appear to be your most personal film.
It was identifiably personal, some of them were literally autobiographical stories and I made no bones about it but there are elements on an emotional level in films I've done that have been deeply disguised but were, truthfully, far more personal than in that film.

You've done live mixes of this film soundtrack, how do you go about it?
It just means that I have all the sound elements separately on an 8-track. I have each of the 4 soundtracks, the music and the stereo separate, the sound effects separate and I also have another channel connected to a CD player. If I want to completely change the soundtrack I can switch it with another piece of music, which I will do.

Did you do one for Yahoo?
Yeah, for Yahoo in LA. I've also done it in San Francisco, Toronto and Washington. In San Francisco I did all 3 opening performances on the opening night.

And that went across the Net?
Yeah, I've never done it on the Internet. It was a festival put together of digital filmmakers. It was in fact the world premiere of Time Code in a huge venue in LA, The Director's Guild. In fact that wasn't a live mix, it was the first outing for the film and I really didn't know if the live mix was going to work. It wasn't the time for experimenting so, I must admit I lost my nerve on that one but I did it a couple of weeks later instead.

Having worked across so many media, any plans to work on the Internet
I'm fascinated by the Internet. I'd love to do a series of short films, different lengths and subject matters, for the Internet. I'm fascinated right now by what you can do but, like all media, it will get tied down and perhaps the joy will come out of it. It might become a very competitive extension of what we think of as TV really. There may be thousands and thousands of TV companies rather than the hundreds we have now. In a pure, poetic and anachronistic kind of way I think the next 2 years are going to be very interesting and I relish the idea of what one might do there. Beyond that, I don't know.

And you've sworn never to return to 35mm?
No I haven't, I would go back to 35mm. 35mm is so beautiful that when I do go back to it I will really relish it. I don't know when that will be though. I'm making a film next year but I imagine that I'll do that on Super 16, again for the speed and because I own that camera and I love it, I have no desire to make it a bigger project.

What's next?
I'm going to do another digital film, a couple of short films very quickly and then, next Spring I'm doing a feature.

What's that about?
It's an extension of all the ideas tried in Time Code but I'll be pushing them a little further and trying different variations of form. It'll still be a conventional story.

More parallel stories?
I'm not interested in more than 4. I chose 4 because it's comfortable for the eye, a square, it's great.


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