Guy Maddin is my muse of the week

Interview with Guy Maddin, one of my favourite directors, from October 2006:

GM: I’m also kind of pleased with what I came up with. It was such short notice that I didn’t have time to make anything up, I had to just be very honest. So much so that I can’t really show it to my family. I’d be disinherited, things like that.

TB: It’s kind of funny to hear you say that about a film that involves organ harvesting in a lighthouse.

GM: Yeah, I sort of promised myself I’d never talk about that part of growing up. It’s all there now! But sometimes you can hide things in plain sight.

I watched The Saddest Music in the World three times over the weekend, with and without commentary, and now I find myself hanging on every word out of Guy Maddin’s mouth.

His comments about expressionism in the Saddest Music are helping me with my mission to draw. He did things like shoot the actors making assorted facial expressions against a black backdrop so he could stick them in whenever he needed a shot, figuring that nobody really cares whether the backgrounds are consistent or accurate: the characters are in the movie, that’s enough context. I like that specific tactic, to just stick everything in together and nevermind the accuracy. It’s helping me draw, and design websites. I’m good at thinking up parts; less good at accurately proportioning them.

This other comment is helping me think about giant projects that involve a lot of research:

I know the Japanese had a different way of presenting silent film altogether, with a benshi narrator who would get in to characters or supply their own narratives that ran athwart the text unfolding on screen and that sounds really elaborate. The most I wanted my interlocutor to do was sort of season up, spice up, the proceedings a little bit and, truthfully, clarify some spots where I may not have shot things clearly enough. The benshi thing I found out about just a bit too late to figure out how to work with it and incorporate it myself.

That happens to me a lot, getting into a project and then finding really inspirational ideas right at the end. I have to insist that it’s ok, a good sign even, to be spotting neat ideas all the way through a project instead of having a complete and perfect idea right from the beginning.

And of course I’m looking forward to sometime seeing the organ harvesting movie, The Brand Upon The Brain.

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