The Review/Digital Digest/
"You can totally make a movie with your iPhone" NABIL x The Review
The renowned music video director curates our digital digest
“Would you believe in what you believe in if you were the only one who believed it?” — Kanye West
Music video director. Filmmaker. Photographer and TIFFxInstagram Shorts Festival judge.
INSTANT KARMA GONNA GET YOU
I’m a photographer and I love Instagram. Ninety per cent of my account is travel pics and weird things that I see and shoot with my iPhone. Every now and then, I’ll use it as a “Dear Diary” of what I’ve done. If I do a shoot for Reebok, I can point to it: “hey, check out the interview.” All these vanity things, all in vain. Me, me, me.
But I love the fact that you see things, you whip out your phone and you snap it and share it with the world. For me, it’s an extension of my personality where you can get a sense of who I am, see where I’m at and what I’m doing. Maybe make some people think? I try to make my posts somewhat quirky and not too heavy. I try to make them awesome. Don't we all… Cooler than I actually am.
ROLL THE (MANY-SIDED) DICE
I’m loving TV, actually. I’ve never been into fantasy, Dungeons & Dragons stuff or anything like that, but Game of Thrones (which only has two seasons left?!) is tiger-upper-cutting me. It’s one of my addictions - the story, the plot and the characters are so amazing.
I watch Silicon Valley, too. One of my friends is a venture capitalist and I work with some tech companies, so it’s hilarious to see how on point the comedy is. But really, I love movies. I guess that I love heavy movies because it’s been a while since I watched a comedy or an action flick. I’ve always been a big fan of Inarritu, especially his earlier stuff. Denis Villeneuve, your fellow Canadian. Incendies is one of my favourite movies, so is A Prophet. Jacques Audiard is one of the most terrific directors, in my eyes.
Ultimately, I just like a good movie that has some kind of a human touch to it. Something that hits your heart. I love walking away from a movie and being moved. Room was a small film that did that for me, as was Whiplash.
THE SUNDANCE SCREENWRITERS LAB
Ultimately, moving people, that’s my goal too. I just went to the Sundance Screenwriters Lab to work on a project (Gully) with my writer Marcus Guillory, hopefully we start shooting later in the year.
Gully takes place in South Central Los Angeles, so I want to juxtapose what would be a cliche perception of that area with a true vibe and authenticity to what the story’s about. It’s three kids from extreme backgrounds who stand up and finally say “fuck that” and take things back into their own hands. It’s no-holds-barred... I am more passionate about telling this story than I am about anything else I have worked on thus far.
Doing the Sundance Film Lab was a huge eye opener, to see these amazing writers and projects come together in the magical surrounding in Utah. You have people who have won Oscars and written amazing classic films giving you their time and experience to help push your script even further, not to mention the amazing staff who curate and push this experience for filmmakers. Marcus and I both came out of it with a few strong and simple notes that structurally bring it to another level. You work on something for so long (mind you Marcus wrote this work of art years prior to me coming in as director and building with him and the producers) and then all of a sudden someone steps in and says, "Oh, but what about this?" Suddenly you have a whole new door that opens to you. I hope to go back many more times with many films.
ON MUSIC VIDEOS
Music videos are such an amazing step for me as a filmmaker. I only work with music that I like. Even if it’s a lower-budget video, it helps to have that connection to something that moves me. I still think that it's such an honour to work with these artists. It’s crazy that an artist gives me some music and lets me make a visual for it.
For me, when I listen to music, I can come up with stories. I think about my experiences travelling, I put my headphones on and close my eyes and write down whatever comes to mind. It all comes together when I listen to the soundtrack and the score. Most of my ideas for videos have happened when I just put the song on repeat in my car. I pull over and think of a story that comes into my mind.
What's the spirit of the music for Gully? It’s a tough one. I want to be minimal but dramatic, minor key! But with drone, lots of drone. Some musical elements to it. James Blake will work on the score with me, basically to lay down this one-time sound bed. Between me and Corey (one of the producers), we have a strong phone book of amazingly talented musicians to call upon. I want it to complement this strong, powerful script that Marcus wrote.
THOUGHTS ON THE INDUSTRY
I wish people (producers/financiers) would take more risks with filmmakers. For at least their first movie, they should trust their vision, not be so worried about casting. There are so many variables when you’re in the two-million-dollar range. One of the great things about places like Canada and the UK is that you have countries investing in films and people to make projects. I think that would be an amazing benefit to have in America, to give voices to more youth and storytellers.
Because you can totally make a movie with your iPhone. If you have 60 seconds max, just keep it simple, keep it powerful. It’s one-third the length of a music video. I would recommend the simpler, the better. The beauty and curse is that there's so much stuff out there.
In the end, less wack movies need to get made. Imagine, instead of a 300 million dollar movie, 100 filmmakers were given three million dollars. Or even if 200 filmmakers were given 1.5 million dollars and set off with the instructions, "Go make something great, make whatever you want." I'm not trying to disregard the process, but I bet you'd come out with at least 20 bangers.
In the last issue of The Review, Connor Jessup asked a bunch of people from the world of film a simple but profound question: If you died today, and could keep only one frame from a film with you for all eternity, which image would you choose?
He also put the question to all of you, and a lot of you sent us thoughtful, beautiful answers.
Check out some responses from our readers below, and see all the frames we received on our website. Thanks to everyone who shared their love of film with us.
Director of Programming (retired), Austin Film Society
Eternal frame: Cinema Paradiso, 1988, directed by Giuseppe Tornatore
Why: “This frame from Giuseppe Tornatore’s Nuovo Cinema Paradiso (1988) showing Toto joyfully uncovering the magic of film movement emanating from a series of tiny still photos. His mentor/surrogate father/artistic guide, Alfredo, stands by the machine which makes it all possible and which will change Toto’s own movement through life.
Eternal frame: Battleship Potemkin, 1925, directed by Sergei Eisenstein
Why: “I think I've already taken the frame of the closeup of the eye with me wherever I go. It's already with me eternally! It's frightening and mesmerizing at the same time. What it represents from an editing standpoint rings so true as it evokes a visceral emotion from me that I can barely articulate. I feel both fear and wonder and it's amazing to me that a single frame can forever haunt you in this way.”
Eternal frame: Goodbye, Dragon Inn, 2003, directed by Tsai Ming-liang
Why: “The frame I would choose would be this moment, near the end of Tsai Ming-liang's masterpiece, Goodbye, Dragon Inn. Tsai is fascinated by duration and the way emotions simmer during moments of spatial isolation. Here, that form is expressed through something we cinephiles know all too well: the solitary act of moviegoing, of sitting in the dark, silently allowing images to have an impact on us. As the film (and the film within the film) come to an end, his characters file out of the theatre, leaving the room empty for the final time, before it is due to be shut down. Here, he allows the cinema to breathe its final breath, a moment shrouded in darkness before turning on the harsh lights of the room. He, and we as an audience, pay tribute to the spaces we have frequented and been transformed by; a final act of cinemagoing as communion. ”
Eternal frame: Dersu Uzala, 1975, directed by Akira Kurosawa
Why: “When Dersu Uzala is near the river hearing the noise. Because the moment reminds me that we still depend on nature.”
Eternal frame: La Jetée, 1962, directed by Chris Marker
Why: “In a film entire composed of still frames, there is a moment where the woman, the beloved, sleeps. The images come together in shorter cuts, suggesting animation, and then... there's a moment where she opens her eyes and looks at the camera, a split second of 24 frames per second. Life recorded, remembered, become real on the screen of our imaginations. The moment of life and love remembered by our time traveler. The moment where I, as a viewer, connected with the "reality" of the film and remembered those simple and profound moments with past loves, now left to sweet memories. Marker caught that moment, something that we, I, hope to never forget.”
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