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Friday, Jan. 12, 2007
Twinned through film
Directors Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe are best-known for their document of the great Terry Gilliam film that never was, "Lost In La Mancha." You'd think that making "Lost" -- which shows the demise of Gilliam's dream project -- would be enough to discourage anyone from making a feature film, but apparently not Fulton and Pepe.
In an interview with The Japan Times, Pepe says that "Terry is a great model for an aspiring filmmaker because he's such a bold filmmaker, and even in the face of things crumbling, he still maintains a positive spirit."
How hard is it trying to cast twins as your leads?
KF: We had auditioned some 50 young men for these parts, and we were trying to match up guys who'd look enough alike to pull it off. And it was very frustrating because you end up casting for looks, not ability. So Harry and Luke, they were the only twins we auditioned; after three or four times we realized they'd bring something to the roles that (actors) who were strangers to each other never would.
Why did you go with the documentary look for the film?
KF: It comes from the novella, basically, because it's a series of accounts from people around the band. Tom and Barry aren't really characters, it's more about the agendas of the people who surrounded them, the handlers. Also, in conventional fictional films, it's harder to do the multiperspective thing we do in "Brothers of the Head."
LP: Even the Gothic undertone; Brian Aldiss said he was inspired by "Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde," and there's a tradition in Gothic storytelling of [using] the guise of a true story as a way of allowing you to suspend disbelief.
It seems like a rock band is best when it's a bit out of control, whereas in filmmaking, a good movie requires careful control of the entire process.
KF: Well, no, not entirely. In making "Brothers," the loss of control was very important. The gigs in this film were basically like real gigs, very chaotic. We'd have multiple cameras going and multiple monitors and we'd be shouting at the assistant director to go run across the room and get the cameraman to do this or that -- it was very chaotic. But we very rarely stopped the show, because we really wanted the energy. Also, the twins were wearing this incredibly complicated prosthetic that took five hours to put on and we knew it was gonna break eventually. It's a very sensitive prosthetic to have people jumping around in it.
LP: With the actors, they were encouraged to improvise. They had a very clear sense of what each scene was supposed to accomplish, but they were given the liberty to improvise. And the cameraman wasn't told "here's how a scene is going to be blocked;" he was going to cover it the way a documentary filmmaker would. All of that was about pushing what is normally a very controlled process, the filmmaking process -- pushing it to a level where it's going to have a raw, spontaneous energy, which you don't usually capture in films, especially rock 'n' roll films, which always somehow seem glossy, flat and staged.
Do you guys have a favorite rock 'n' roll movie? Something that has that kind of energy?
LP: "D.O.A." was one, the Maysles Brothers' "Gimme Shelter." . . . We were huge fans of Robert Frank's "C**ksucker Blues."
But that's impossible to see, though! The Stones had it pulled from release . . .
KF: Well, we got a bootleg off the Internet. That was an influence because it had a very strange vibe to it. There's a texture to that film we tried to re-create, in terms of how the film stocks looked. And it's also how the whole film crew in that film seems really sleazy! You watch that film and you think "oh yeah, I saw The Rolling Stones doing a lot of drugs and sex and stuff," but you think back, and you realize it wasn't The Stones, it was the film crew! So we infused some of that unethical documentary filmmaking into our character Eddie Pasqua, who's following the twins into all kinds of odd places where cameramen aren't supposed to go. So it has this sleazy, voyeuristic vibe sometimes.
LP: But all of the rock 'n' roll movies we talked about are documentaries because I think when you look at a lot of fiction films that are about artists or musicians, they always do this kind of formulaic, linear explanation of the creative process. Like, here's the scene from the character's childhood that "explains" their art. Oh, and here's the moment of inspiration where he's trying out different words. Is it "King of Fire?" No, wait, "Ring of Fire!" [Laughs.]
"Light My Fire." [Laughs]
LP: But so many of these fictionalized biopics, they reduce inspiration to, like, one moment. Jackson Pollock gets a paint splotch on his shoe: Bingo, there it is! And the documentaries have more of a sense of the chaos of creativity, the mystery and intangible aspects of it.