Free-ads - Forum News and columns Features & Interviews Film links Calendar dates for festivals Contact details Statistical Info Funding Info
site web
About Netribution Contact Netribution Search Netribution


interviews / reviews / how to / short shout / carnal cinema / film theory / whining & dining

netribution > features > interview with saul me tzstein > page two

Did you always intend to make a comedy first?
No, I think that's where Jack and I coincide. Although I quite like that type of ironic filmmaking, you know, I prefer meaning through insincerity rather than sincerity in a sense.

What was most obvious, and profoundly disturbing when examined sincerely, was the characters' latent antipathy toward goals and their general disenchantment with their lives. Are you a fan of Douglas Coupland?
I've read Microsurf but not Generation X although I often feel that I have. It is very disturbing these days. It used to be whether you could find a job on leaving school, now there are many jobs if you want one - MacJobs if you like but they aren't meaningless. The problems facing people these days are less obvious, it's not about choices it's about salaries, you can go through life without actually getting on with anything. I certainly felt like that in my twenties, you just drift, in a perfectly pleasant way but with a lingering existential horror of it all! (much laughter)

These characters have probably all been to university but that doesn't matter, they've left college and suddenly realise that it has been two whole years since they've done anything of any worth. They ask themselves what they've been doing, what they want to do and what it's all about. That's pretty much 'of the moment' I think.

Tell us how you managed to get permission to shoot The Name of This Film is Dogme95?
Well there are actually quite a few, from all over the world, but I think it was just through perseverance. The guy who presented the documentary was a guy called Richard Kelly, he'd written a book about Dogme for Faber & Faber and I think the whole thing came through them. I think the producer came up with the idea to do a TV version of the book and I got asked to make it, it wasn't my idea.

You managed to get Brian Tufano as your DoP, was it easy enough securing him?
Yeah, we just called him up and asked him, I knew him through Trainspotting and Shallow Grave of course. I think he just liked the script but when we went to meet him I realised how attune he is with what people are saying to him, he wants to know whether you are going to make a film that he wants to make. His stuff is funny, he has a light touch which makes it all slightly amusing.

How do you mean?
Well it has a funkiness about it and it's quite life affirming. One of my favourite artists is….oh my God I've forgotten! (much laughter)

What period?

Monet, Leger, Pissarro…
Fernand Leger! (laughter) Yes, it's so enthusiastic about life and even though we are making a comedy about a bunch of losers, you still want to be with them, it's joyful.

Have you ever had a MacJob?
No but when I worked in an architect's office it was still ink on tracing paper. You spend a lot of time doing diagonal lines, which is a bit brain damaging. Like being a runner, terribly boring. When I worked on those movies I didn't see Danny Boyle directing, I got to work with a sound recordist.

But Jack has done all of those jobs, he's four or five years younger than me and the film is very much about his sort of age group. I'm slightly older than these people, they grew up with video tapes and the internet whereas I went to school with kids who didn't even have TV's. But I'm certainly part of that generation, Thatcher's children, people who are now completely apathetic. God! (laughter)

I know a lot of people in their late thirties and they had all sorts of issues like Punk, for example. They really believed in something that could wash away the horror of Progressive Rock. The younger generation are apolitical, they have few beliefs if any and they have this cultural ability to pick and choose.

That's a sad if accurate definition of modern culture.
You can go to Tower Records and buy any piece of music you want, you can go to Amazon and buy any book you want. Everything is getting re-released on Video, CD and DVD. On one hand makes you more sophisticated because you don't attach beliefs to them that limit you but, on the other hand, it's meaningless. It's just as easy to get one group as it is another but that's an attitude which I quite disempowering.

Late Night Shopping is also explicit of a certain ambivalence too that. Look at Starbucks, there's something nice about being able to go any place, anywhere knowing you are going to get a decent cup of coffee but at the same time it's terrible because the whole world has become nothingness and the same.

And you can't even smoke.
Exactly and it's become a sanitised version of a coffee shop but, as the characters in the movie realise, it's comforting at the same time because the world isn't difficult. Of course, out of that comes an existential boredom and that's a condition of life today.

Is that why you made the film?
No, I don't think we were that self conscious other than it's very much about Jack's generation the kind of things he dealt with. It's easy to analyse in retrospect about why you made a film the way you did but actually, when you make it you don't really care. It is obvious to me that it's a slacker comedy but we never thought 'let's make a slacker comedy for a minute.

What are you working on now?
Jack and I have got three films on the go. We just sit around my parents' house eating pizza and coming up with bad film ideas.

Sounds delightful.
Yes, and in a way it's quite organic. We don't sit around thinking ''what does the world need that Saul and Jack can provide?' The one thing that is very, very deliberate is we always try to make films that we would like to see as an audience. Not films we'd like to make, films we'd like to see and there's a huge difference between them. We ditch great ideas because we couldn't be bothered to go and see the finished film, and in a way it’s a filter for the shit that we would probably come up with. Films have very distinct relationships; what the filmmaker makes of the film and what the audience makes of the film.

Doesn't that make it sound like a lot of people wanking?
(laughs) In a sense, we might as well wank at the end product with every one else, might as well share in that whole wank fantasy. (Much laughter)

Indeed, Lastly, do you have any anecdotes from the sets of Shallow Grave and Trainspotting?
I have actually. There was one journalist that interviewed me recently who was obsessed by Danny Boyle. All she seemed to ask me were questions about him, so in the end I had to explain to her that it was a long time ago and I was only buying sandwiches. (laughs) I had a great job on Trainspotting. I was the one charged with going out to hunt for the Kelly MacDonald character - it involved walking up to girls in the street and asking, 'Do you want to be in a movie!' (laughs) It sounds like great fun but it's actually quite tragic, they look at you with eyes like, 'You sad bastard, that's not even original.' (laughs out loud) That was my lowest point


Copyright © Netribution Ltd 1999-2002
searchhomeabout usprivacy policy