Director Shivaan Makker is a director based in LA, California. He also goes by the name Sullivan McGuffin. He is interested in exploring the darkness of the human psyche. His inspiration behind the craft of filmmaking have been his father and Alfred Hitchcock. His recent works include Room 203 (2014), 2 Brothers (2016), Pastiche (2020).
Hello Shivaan, Pastiche is a brilliant film. The execution was mind blowing. Earlier you have said that Alfred Hitchcock is your inspiration. Would you please tell us what your first Hitchcock movie was? How did his works inspire you?
Thank you for your kind words. I really could not have planned such clever execution without my inspiration from Mr. Hitchcock. The first film I saw of his was Psycho (1960). The cutting really influenced me. No pun intended! I think Hitchcock knew what films could do to audiences. He knew film is the art form to exhibit fear and suspense. In his film, The Birds (1963), he took something pretty and made it a subject of mayhem.
In the film, Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” works as an influence on Kelly and Sidney. Your treatment of the content also alludes to your love for Kubrick, Cronenberg. It’s evident that you’re attracted to thriller and horror. Which feature of this genre attracts you the most?
I love how thrillers and horrors make use of productio
n and costume design, especially how they could push the boundaries of our imaginations. Cronenberg’s Crash (1996) or John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) are great examples of such films.
How would you define Pastiche? What do you think of the difference between copying something and getting inspired by some art?
For me, Pastiche is very postmodern. I think it is closely related to copying rather than inspiring because it is more obvious where the similarities are and where the inspiration comes from.
Pastiche has multiple jarring moments. How challenging was it to shoot the entire film?
It was not as challenging as it seems because I knew the shot list and memorized it visually. Any other shots to that would make it challenging, if that makes sense. However, my trusty cinematographer, Istvan, and my stunt coordinator, Jared, did have some great and useful recommendations that we did use for some of the more action packed shots that required a little more rehearsal, blocking, and choreography. We had no time to rehearse or do anything so we had to be very quick with what we decided to do and it had to work, which I made sure of.
What were the key factors behind your selection of a
ctors? It must have been stressful to them as well. How did you manage the atmosphere on set?
The key factors were basically what I had wr itten down, which couldn’t have been more vague. We actually held the first auditions through video call, which was not ideal. The second round of auditions, the call backs, went a lot better as they were in person and we got a good feel for the atmosphere we were looking for. It was stressful on all ends. My mom was outside of the auditioning, she said everyone was screaming so loud that she could hear from outside. Once we got through the first two days of shooting, it became less stressful and easier to work. I managed the atmosphere on set with good lunch and dinner breaks! Everyone enjoyed the food. They always had something to look forward to as did I.
I am sure your trade teaches you something new each day. What have you learnt while filmmaking?
Good relationships and socializing is key. I am learning that the hard way as I am an introvert.
Shivaan, you have said that your father is the reason behind your love for films. It would be great if you could share some movies that both of you enjoyed together.
We always would make each other watch certain movies, especially to see what the other thinks. I remember I made him watch Pasolini’s Salo (1975). One of his favorite movies we had seen together was The Dirty Dozen (1967), another movie was Good Will Hunting (1997). We did enjoy watching Hitchcock movies together and lots of older films like The Killers (1946), which I remembered we both enjoyed! Also, Sunset Boulevard (1950)… I can go on!
Lastly, I want to know what vision you nurture as an artist? Where do you see yourself in future?
I nurture that vision of the darker psyche that exists in us, human beings. It is more beast than human. For me this follows along the footsteps of what Alfred Hitchcock was doing and so I feel like I should follow them. It goes along with the belief that cinema is a safe place to experience fear and such horrible characters and things because at the end of the day, it’s just a movie.