What is your definition of cinema? What makes cinema special? What makes it a common domain of comfort for many around the world?
I would say for me personally, it’s the art of capturing your vision on film to craft a story or create a world, which you then present to an audience. Cinema is both shared and intimate. We are all connected through moments and stories. There’s an opportunity to “feel” whatever one desires in exploring the art form.
Tell us about your love for photography. How potent a role does it play in your process of making films?
I feel it plays a very potent role in my filmmaking. I’ve always had a fascination with aesthetics and the unique. So I naturally gravitated towards photography to capture my findings as I explored the world around me. It played a key role in developing my sense of framing and composition and my relationship with light and shadow. Having a camera on hand is a must when I’m location scouting. Prior to writing and directing short films, I used to produce “still picture stories” (a slideshow of sorts with sound and minimal effects). I thought of these abstract projects as practice in preparation for shooting actual films.
What were the movies that influenced you? What are your favorite genres? Who were the directors that pulled you towards the world of making movies?
The Wizard of Oz was an early influence. The flying monkeys gave me nightmares at first, but I still thought they were super cool. I’ve watched this movie countless times.
As a young man, “A Clockwork Orange” had a profound impact on me. I identified with the thirst to test boundaries in an effort to live life to the fullest. Kubrick’s style and attention to detail continue to blow my mind.
My favorite genres are horror, thriller and dark comedy.
Kubrick, Tarantino, Wes Anderson, Lynch, Ingmar Bergman and Alejandro Jodorowsky are a few who have inspired me many times over.
Could you suggest us a few movies? Movies that have influenced you over the years.
Eraserhead is my favorite debut film of all time. The Royal Tenenbaums is in my top 3. Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain is a masterpiece. Aside from that, a few others are The Shining, Pulp Fiction, Hour of the Wolf, Blow-up, Psycho (Hitchcock’s), Hereditary and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Did you initially think about making a web series? How did the story come up? Did you always have the desire to make something on the issues that you have addressed in the series?
I would say my approach at first was, “leave the story open-ended.”. When I shot the initial episode, it was more of, “I have a vision, quit stalling, get out there and film it.”. Grow as I go.
In regards to the story’s origin and addressing issues…..well, having reoccurring nightmares as a child was part of it. I consider myself a fairly introspective person and find the dichotomy of conscious vs subconscious fascinating. We all struggle with maintaining proper balance when it comes to mental health and I feel it’s imperative to address and confront the traumas we face throughout life. Life isn’t about comfort. It’s about adapting, growing and connecting with our environment. So yes, I’ve wanted to touch upon this subject matter for quite some time. Exploring these themes and extremes through the art of cinema is very cathartic for the filmmaker….my hope is that it resonates (in some form or fashion) with some of the audience as well.
The relevance of R.I.P was left till the end for the cinephiles to decipher. Could you talk us through the significance of keeping the reference in your title, juxtaposing life (good morning – a sign of life) and death?
Great question! Waking and dying is cyclical. We all experience this in various forms. I want each member of the audience to develop their own relationship with the characters and subject matter, from episode to episode. To question what it means to “them” as an individual. As a filmmaker, I’m not looking to tell you how to feel or how I feel. I’m challenging the audience to dive within themselves and connect with the universe. Death comes for us all. Do not fear it. Embrace it and live life to the fullest.
How important was it for your protagonist to bring out the complications in him, the dark forces in his mind that was annihilating his sense of reality? Tell us something about the performance of your protagonist.
It’s challenging to be completely honest with oneself. I’m not great at it…..far from it. All of us lie to ourselves in some form or fashion. Sky seeks the truth, regardless of the fear in his path. He understands that one can’t run from the inevitable. His life may be a dream, but his intuition tells him something is off. It’s an emotional journey, full of ups-n-downs. More “downs” for Sky up to this point, lol. He’s trying to dig his way out though.
What according to you is the fine line between order and chaos, between sanity and madness? Why do you think it was getting extremely difficult for your protagonist to maintain a sense of order around him?
I believe it’s all about balance and tapping into the universe. Sky struggles with both, which is why madness is creeping closer and closer. The power of belief can be both comforting and delusional. Thus far Sky doesn’t know what to believe. Imagine feeling disconnected from your intuition. How would you cope with that?
The therapy sessions play a potent role in the narrative. It is evident that the protagonist is forced to confront his worst fears. Do you think every time he is dying, he is successfully getting the better of his trepidations?
Hahaha….definitely a good question!….but one the audience must contemplate and decide for themselves.
The various phantom like images in his head, the blood on his shirt (like the irremovable blood on the hands of Lady Macbeth), his agonizing solitude, everything pushes him towards madness. By the end of the episode, it is not clear if the world around him is responsible for this or if he is the devil of his own device or a bit of both. What would you like to believe?
Just like all of us, Sky has his demons to deal with. Not to get all David Lynch on you or avoid the question, but the answer to your wonderful question will unfold as the series progresses. I will say this, the twists and turns shall continue!