York film student Sam Boullier speaks to Matt Conn just before he began shooting for his first short.
Q – So Sam, give us a brief overview of the story.
A – There’s a very short timescale, just one night and the following morning. It cuts in to a couple driving in a car just after they’ve robbed a bank or shop. During the robbery a child has been accidentally killed. Details are never disclosed, the only evidence is that the couple are driving away with money in a bag and they’re scared. The final running time will be about fifteen minutes and there’s almost no dialogue in the film at all.
This event is the turning point of the female character’s life, the realisation that her actions really do have consequences. It sounds deep and meaningful, but it’s a realisation that I think we all come to.
Q – Tell me a bit about the setting of the film.
A – The film isn’t set in any particular time but it’s definitely not the present. It has a fairy-tale sort of quality; it’s in the past but not the actual past. The age of the characters is ambiguous, as long as they’re believable as a couple on screen, it doesn’t really matter.
Q – What is the central theme that you’re trying to get across?
A – What I’m trying to get across in this film is that this event is the turning point of the female character’s life, the realisation that her actions really do have consequences. It sounds deep and meaningful but it’s a realisation that I think we all come to at some point in our lives.
Q – What other things have influenced you?
A – There’s definitely some Quentin Tarantino in there, especially the idea of timelessness. Pulp Fiction for instance, is such a quintessential 90s movie but then it could just as easily be the 70s or 80s, you never see a CD player, everything is retro. It’s a fantasy world. Probably the film that has most influenced what I’m trying to do is Terrence Malik’s Badlands, particularly the atmosphere of that movie and the way image relates to sound. Also In Bruge, where a central character has to deal with the guilt of a terrible accident, although my film doesn’t have the hilarious pay off! Black Swan and Don’t Look Now too, in terms of using weird imagery to show a character losing their grip on reality and visual representations of a character haunted by their mind. For a lot of the film, it’s ambiguous whether the female character’s guilt is somehow distorting what’s really happening.
…if a character had their eye gouged out and then they have an eye patch, that’s just a natural product of what you see, but if we first see a character wearing an eye patch, that immediately creates mystery about their backstory.
Q – A major scene in the film is the party scene, tell me how it fits in.
A – Every scene apart from the party is minimalistic, one or two shots per scene, but the party is going to be this huge montage; it’s also going to be the trickiest to shoot.
I’m really interested in using iconography to develop characterisation. For instance, if a character had their eye gouged out and then they have an eye patch, that’s just a natural product of what you see, but if we first see a character wearing an eye patch, that immediately creates mystery about their backstory. So in the party scene there might be someone only wearing denim, or dressed like a native-American. I don’t want it to look too clean like a costume party; the costumes can be wild whilst still feeling organic. The 90s rave scene has definitely rubbed off on me, where you see people wandering around wearing all sorts of weird things but it’s perfectly natural within the context.
There is a backdrop of happy people, because it’s about the death of childhood and innocence. The female character feels incredibly alone, as she’s the only one who has to deal with the consequences. She both identifies herself with the revellers and also all the bad stuff that’s happened.
Q – How do you plan to use music to create a sense of this unreal past?
A – There are a few options, one of which is this band from London who play sort of weird shoegaze jazz. They don’t have any music out because they’re just a jam band so they’d give the film a really distinctive sound, but I’m not sure if it’ll work yet. I’m also talking to a steel pan player, which would give it a tribal, earthy feel similar in a way to the haunting xylophone in Badlands. In the party scene, the music isn’t going to be rave or party music at all. I’m not going to say too much about why because I want it left open to interpretation.
Q – What’s the film called?
A – The working title is ‘Pretty Daze’, which is ripped off the new Kurt Vile album! I’ve struggled to find a title but I’ve got a page with loads of different words on it that I like. Pretty Daze is quite delicate and says a lot about what I want the tone of the film to be.
Author: Matt Conn
Artwork: Daniel Richter