5 questions with And By We I Mean Me director, Christopher Jason Bell at the half-way mark.
Sunday, August 27th, 2017
1Hi Chris! Thanks for being a part of our festival. First, what was the initial seed that inspired you to make this film? Always a pleasure!
I had just done a film called "Left" which focused on a single actor, shot in a single take on a consumer SD camera, roaming around in an airport. I really wanted to explore that kind of aesthetic again. Frank and I batted ideas back and forth and I wrote something that we ended up not doing because we lost the location. I went back to the drawing board and set something in a location held by a family member and changed the story a bit, incorporating some of my family history and my girlfriend's family history. Lauren McCune came into it after that -- I was friends with her and Frank more or less grew up with her and she was a blast to work with!
When we finally shot, everything changed. Now there are cuts and it left (heh) that real-time seed inspiration. It got a lot weirder. It got uncomfortable in a different way. It was interesting.
2Frank Mosley seems to be everywhere. How did you two meet and what was it like working together? Frank, to put it mildly, "fucking rules."
We had some friends in common but he really just watches a ton of indie films and reaches out to people. He's very sweet. He reached out to me after one of my shorts on NoBudge, I think. It's been awhile.
Frank is a joy to work with. He's intuitive and just fun to be around. I feel the same about Lauren, too! They're both very talented.
3You wrote, directed, shot and edited this film yourself. I know you've worked with bigger crews before so why did you choose to keep this film so small? What are the pros and cons of working with a micro crew? "Left" was a big experiment because we were gonna run around an airport, guerilla-shoot, and I wanted the material to be low-grade SD. I was like, ah, I can't ask Paul Taylor (my go-to DP) or anyone else to do this. I can just do it. At the same time, I didn't want to call too much attention to us in this airport, so it just made sense for it to be myself and the actor.
It was really invigorating (note: exhausting). I wanted to do it much more with different actors. And that lead me to Frank, Lauren, and this film.
There are plenty of cons! It got a little frustrating to reframe on the spot constantly within a 15 minute take. You can get a lot of really great moments working like this, but it did bother me that, in the moment, I couldn’t always come up with the best camera angle right away. More rehearsal would have alleviated this, so I won’t totally knock the method.
Another con is the sound, which I ran myself. It obviously would’ve been better to have someone doing it other than me, but I was interested in being my own crew. Again, very exhausting!
I was pleased with how it turned out, but next time I do anything like this I'd like at least one other crew member.
4This film doesn't end neatly tied up. What is it that attracts you to more subtle films and films that don't follow traditional narrative structure? The mystery of it gets me going. When it's hard to detect structure, when you really have to wonder why a scene went like it did, why a character did what they did, why the whole piece ended like it did. You can get a lot out of it, I think, and it's really exciting and fulfilling to me.
I don't have a problem with the opposite -- something that's not subtle, something tied up nicely, etc. I think it's even more difficult to do that and have it feel earned. You don't wanna do it just because that's what you're taught. In the same way, if I'm being elusive, it's gotta be for a reason. And by that I mean something shouldn't just be weird for its own sake. There has to be an idea/ideas there, something underlying it that I can point to and we can talk about. Even if an audience doesn't get it, I think you can still feel it in the material. That's what I hope, anyway.
5What's next? "Incorrectional" is my second feature and is now doing the rounds with the fest heads. I hope it finds a premiere in 2018. I'm insanely proud of it.
I just finished shooting a short film called "The Finger" which I'm also very excited about.
I have other shorts and features cooking and some only need a couple stars to align in order to happen. It would be terrific if at least one of them happened this year.
About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
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