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Depending on your philosophy, the fact that Daniel Burman's newest film All In won audience kudos at the 2013 New York Jewish Film Festival -- not to mention the best screenplay award at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival -- is a matter of chance or will. The romantic comedy about poker explores luck vs determination in shaping one´s destiny, as suggested in its original title, La suerte en tus manos (The Luck in Your Hands).
Burman, who wrote the script with longtime collaborator Sergio Dubcovsky, may have more than dumb luck to thank for his trophy collection. In 2004 his film Lost Embrace/El Abrazo Partido bagged Grand Jury prize at Berlin, joining the dozen or more other medals on his shelf since launching the ArgentineNew Wave with his first feature, A Chrysanthemum Bursts in Cincoesquinas/Un crisantemo estalla en cinco esquinas (1998).
Read more: Director Daniel Burman is "All...
Gregory Crewdson’s photography isn’t like sausage: it’s best to see it being made. To watch Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters – now playing at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center in Manhattan – is to crave a closer look at his haunting Beneath the Roses series. How the Park Slope native created it over nearly a decade supplies the meat of this riveting documentary by Ben Shapiro.
Voyeurism has rarely been so delicious. We’re privy to Crewdson’s thoughts and actions as he painstakingly reworks interiors and landscapes into a single narrative shot. Surprisingly – or perhaps unsurprisingly -- some of his productions rival those of movies in budget and scale. Small-town Massachusetts provides the setting for many of them, which in turn lends the film a poetic mystique that both gnaws and intrigues.
Read more: Gregory Crewdson's Brief Encounters
Over the years there have been many publishers of Japanese comics (manga) and Japanese literature in the US, but few are as remarkable as Vertical Inc.
Established in 2001, Vertical has garnered a reputation for publishing classical and daring manga and other Japanese publications. Their titles are a unique cornucopia of genres and even the covers Vertical designs have an aesthetic charm not unlike the DVD covers by the Criterion Collection.
Read more: Vertical Editor Mentzas Talks...
A staple of stoner parties and midnight screenings, films centered around musical acts like Pink Floyd's The Wall, Pet Shop Boys' It Couldn't Happen Here or The Who's Quadrophenia have long since faded from the cinematic zeitgeist, for an era of Disney backed franchise musicals or one-off concert films. But Boyd Tinsley of the Dave Matthews Band (you might recall him as the very enthusiastic fellow with the violin) is not only bringing back the rock musical, but he is also taking a new approach to the genre. Applying the free-flow philosophy behind a jam session and applying it to filmmaking, Boyd has written Faces in the Mirror with director Aaron Farington and starring Ryan Orr.
Boyd sat down with FFTrav to discuss his musical experimentation in film.
Q: How did you start thinking of making a film?
Boyd Tinsley: I did nothing else but play in a band and make a movie for the last four years. The first thing we did in this movie was record music as the basis of the story. We would record from noon to midnight, and then I’d go to another studio from midnight to six and record music for the soundtrack.
I would have engineers come during the tour and we would mix after the show, or in the afternoon or the days off and I would go to different studios and record with people, work with the director and edit on the bus. It was a very rogue operation. We set up camp wherever we were and did whatever we needed to do.
These days you don’t need much more than a Mac laptop to do music and film editing. It’s very possible to create and edit a movie wherever you are.
Q: How did you meet the poet Rita Dove and how did she inspire you?
BT: Rita Dove teaches at the University of Virginia. She’s a wonderful lady. We did a competition one time that judged poetry and music and I met her there and when we started making this film, she happened to call me to be a part of this program she was doing to introduce her new book of poems.
So when she called I was like “wait a minute, I wonder if Rita would write a poem for the movie?” So I asked her and she did. She wrote this poem through this music that I played at five o’clock in the morning in those sessions in Seattle.
This whole film was just one thing inspiring the next. That was one of the most beautiful and emotional poems I have ever read. She’s a Pulitzer Prize winning poet and former US Laureate and the moment she said yes was the moment this movie became an absolute certainty. If Rita Dove was gonna be in this movie then we absolutely had to make it and make it beautiful.
Q: This movie has been made in a very unusual way. How did you go about writing it, recording the music, and shooting it?
BT: Welcome to my mind. The way I like to play music is that I like to go on a journey. When I’m on stage doing a solo I know what I’m going to play right before I start, but I don’t know where it’s going to go and I don’t try to contrive that. I go into the solo and let it unfold as it goes along and I just play that music in me and you just got to trust it and go with it and if you do, amazing things happen.
That’s what we did here. I started with an idea, and then I would give that idea to musicians and say they have absolute freedom to expand on that idea. I had the basis of a story to give them and told them from their own experiences and their own heart to complete this and magical stuff happened. It was the same feeling telling a story as I do when doing a solo.
All the music you hear happens in the moment. When you hear all these musicians changing over to the chorus in the right key and the right rhythm, that happened, we didn’t plant that stuff out. It was just like magic happened because people were absolutely free to go where they wanted with their heart. I don’t think we necessarily have the opportunity a lot as professional musicians.
And the freedom of that was like the parents were gone and the kids were in charge of the house, it was like a party, we had absolute abandon.
Q: So you had an idea, then you went to Rita and then you recorded?
BT: There wasn’t that kind of a sequence, things just happened as they happened. As long as I knew how a scene felt, we could do the music first. When I go to a movie I want to feel something emotionally and the way that happens to me is that the music and the film are expressing the same emotion.
This experience that create chills, that’s what I wanted to create. A movie that’s an emotional journey from beginning to end that was an experience you felt rather than a picture you watched. That’s what we set out to do and the way I wanted to do that was to not know exactly how this picture was going to end.
To have some idea and have elements, but not know everything that was going to happen. We just began and one thing led to the next. Just like a solo, I know where I start, but I don’t know where it will end, you just jump in.
We had the basis of a story; a guy comes home for the funeral of his father and is going through a lot of pain and guilt. We didn’t know why at the very beginning of the story. We knew certain scenes, like the big bonfire in the forest with these pagan rituals, this wild eccentric preacher singing a gospel song at the wee hours of the morning and this mysterious man that we never quite know who he is.
At the end, all these people he meets are leading him to what he needs. To mercy and forgiveness he needs to get over this agony, pain, and guilt he feels. Through the process of making this movie we figured out who that mysterious guy is, who that girl is. We let it unfold and let it come to us. We let the movie be what the movie was supposed to be.
Q: Then you discovered what it was in the editing process?
BT: In the editing process, we had this amount of film and this amount of music, and it was like a jigsaw puzzle, you had to put it together in the right order. We watched it and it was like something was missing, and that’s when we discovered the story.
We said “what’s missing?” And we figured out it was this, this, and this. It’s basically the back story and how the story resolved. We found that by putting together the pieces of everything we knew.
Q: How did growing up in a musical household influence the film?
BT: That was definitely an influence. My grandfather played accordion and there was always music around me. I guess for me it didn’t really take hold until I was in middle school and wanted to play the guitar.
I took a class that I thought was a guitar class, but it turned out to be a string orchestra class and because it was there, I decided to try the violin and right away I loved it. It wasn’t long after I started playing it that I got the idea of not just playing it classically, but playing it in the sense of jazz and rock. A lot of that was because my teacher introduced me to Stéphane Grappelli, a famous jazz violinist, Papa John Creach and all these violinists that played jazz or rock music to just show me that there were other directions that you can take a violin into.
That’s what I grew up dreaming of; playing violin in other contexts, particularly rock. I wanted to rock, which was why I wanted to play the guitar, but I learned you can rock by playing the violin. I got to live my dream.
Q: It’s more like an aural landscape than drum propelled rock. Was there lots of improv in the music making process for the film?
BT: All the musicians had were feelings. I told this story because everyone has experienced loss, so immediately everyone internalizes that from losing their parent or brother or whoever. Everyone had these feeling they could connect to and I wanted people to open up and share their experiences related to the story because everyone knows how the pain of losing someone feels and that came out in their music.
This was furthered by the main singer in the movie, Shawn Smith, he really did take this and told a story. A lot of it is from just his personal experience. There’s one song where he chokes up at the end, it’s so powerful.
You feel it because it’s so absolutely real. It’s amazing what they did. They let go and let themselves conjure up the feelings of this movie and Shawn also conjured up the words and the story live right there in the moment and I’ve never experienced anything like that before in my life.
Q: How did you join Dave Matthews Band?
BT: I had played with the band I was in before for about four years and it was a great experience and a great band and we had a lot of fun. The cool thing about it was that it was the first chance I had to live that dream about getting on stage with a band and rocking with a violin. So that set the stage for DMB.
Dave or LeRoi called me up and said they wanted me to come down and work on a song Dave was doing called Tripping Billies. I came down and started rehearsing this song and they said come on down to the show we’re doing. So then they just kept inviting me until one day Dave said “I’d love for you to be in the band.”
I had to be in this band because it’s such a special thing. My last band went as far as we can go, but this was going new places and they [my old band] understood this was where I belonged. My old band was very encouraging and I never saw such graciousness in my life, even 20 years later.
Q: I’m surprised you didn’t have Dave Matthews act in this.
BT: Don’t think I didn’t think about it. One of the reasons I hesitated was because he already does a lot of acting. Usually when he’s off tour he’s doing something. Maybe when I make another picture I’ll ask him.
It’s a lot just to ask your band mates to work on the soundtrack, at least for me because I’m a shy person, but I had to ask them. Those are my colleagues, those are my brothers, and I wanted all of them on the album. I asked everybody and it was gracious of them to come out and play and I’m so grateful to those guys because they said “BT, we’re behind you, we’re supporting you and we’re going to help you.”
You can’t find that kind of brotherhood, and camaraderie, and goodwill between people. It blew me away that they did that. That’s the only way I could have made that movie, is if they gave me their blessing. I love those guys, I love the band, and I appreciate the support everyone is giving me.
Q: Dave might demand a part next time.
BT: I hope he says that. If I make another movie I might make a character just for Dave and hope he agrees to do it. Dave is a great guy and always been supportive of me and the other guys and what we did outside of the band.
Q: Would you want him to play a character like him or contrasts with him?
BT: I would have him play someone closer to who he is or someone he can relate to. Dave Matthews is such a special human being and as a person most people don’t know him, they know him in a public sense. He’s a very loving person.
Q: How did you get Ryan Orr to work on the movie?
BT: I met Ryan about ten years ago and right away I said to him “are you an actor? Have you thought of acting before?” And he said yeah I have. So I supported him a bit over the years and helped him get acting lessons and encourage him as a true friend of mine.
I’ve been there and seen him through and through as an actor. He was the first person I called for this movie to play the lead role and he was amazing. He can communicate with no words. His eyes themselves have such a depth of emotion I’ve never seen in anyone before.
I never see him make the same expression twice. There’s not a lot of dialogue in the movie, so a lot of the speaking is through his eyes. He did an amazing job on this movie and I can’t wait for people to see the movie.
Q: The movie reminds me of when music videos were like little movies.
BT: What inspired me to make a movie was the video for The Midnight after DMB did the video for Crash Into Me. I loved the style of the style of the direction. The video was so bittersweet and dreamy and was completely married to the music.
It looked like the music found it and that combination gave me chills. That’s exactly what I set out to do with this film, to create a marriage of music and film to create an emotion. If you really go back to it, my inspirations for making the movie came from music videos, this one in particular.
Q: Where are you at now? What are you working on? On tour? New movie? An album? Expanding the movie soundtrack?
BT: Kinda like all of that. We’re gonna have the premiere of the film be August 30 in Seattle and we’re going to have a live web broadcast at Snagfilm.com. The premiere is going to show the making of the movie, a Q&A with Ryan and the director, and a musical performance by members of the soundtrack.
We’ve done these events this summer that are like this, but we only show a trailer and a scene from the movie. It’s special, it’s not just seeing a movie, it’s an experience. People love seeing how this movie was made, they can really connect to it. The complete experience is something I’ve never gone through before and neither have they. It’s hard to describe, like the way we made this movie.
It’s hard to describe because so much of it is inexplicable to me. There’s a magic that happened in the creating of this movie and everyone that sees it. I can’t wait to share it with people. The plan has been to perform the music live, maybe one song [live during the film].
We’re gonna save that live performance for when we take the movie out on tour doing the same format I mentioned. There’s a possibility we may play one song on the soundtrack live for the premiere.
Q: It sounds very operatic.
BT: Exactly. We have been thinking for that for some time. It’s gonna take a lot of time. It’s still something I plan to do, but it will have to wait until after the premiere.
Q: Where will DMB be in five or ten years? What else do you want to do outside this film or explore?
BT: I definitely want to create, whether it’s movies or music because what I’ve learned about this band is that there’s an endless foundry of creativity, it never has to stop. We never accepted that. When LeRoi was alive, he’d say let’s take it to the next level, let’s take it to another place tonight. That’s what it’s always been about, the ferocity in the way we live.
I just want to keep creating, with DMB and on my own. More movies, maybe another solo album. I’ll always have something creative going on. I’ll probably dabble in some acting. I see myself playing a small role in the pictures I make, I enjoy acting.
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