The annual Film
Independent Forum was held this weekend in Los Angeles. The goal of the 3 day
event, filled with panels, lectures, Q & A sessions, screenings, and
networking lunches, is to empower filmmakers "to take control of their
"Like Crazy," best
picture pic at Sundance opened the event Friday night, one week before it opens
limited release. A Q & A with the creative team followed the screening.
A beautiful film about
love, Film Independent introduced Like Crazy as an "artist driven" film. I had
never thought of a film in those specific terms, but I see Film Independent likes
to support films that are artist driven.
I loved it. It's funny because when I think about it I feel like it's
not really about anything. You know how that is? It's the same with "Drive," (which
I also loved). You go to say what it's about and your description falls short.
"It's about a guy that drives...." Or "It's about first love..." It's the same
feeling when you have a great connection with someone new you're dating. A friend
asks, "What did you talk about?" And you say, "nothing really" or "everything"
because you just talked a lot and it was about nothing in particular? ... Maybe
that's how it is with great art and love too...indescribable in words; it's more about
a feeling, fresh. Not to mention "Drive" and "Like Crazy" both have especially
Like Crazy creative team
The fresh feeling "Like
Crazy" brings is a result of a few nontraditional filmmaking methods, the most
significant being what director Drake Doremus describes as "Hybrid/Improv." The
actors came into a script and outline heavy on exposition, back-story, and
subtext, but lacking in dialog compared to most films. Much of the dialog was
improvised. Doremus and crew couldn't emphasize enough how extensive their
outlining process is. He and co-writer Ben York Jones start with exposition
then strip it down and down, taking out as much dialog as possible. By the time
the actors come in they just bring characters. With a structure and outline so
heavy on detail there's room to "breathe within the structure." Many
traditional filmmakers may see this approach as risky. But as was said on stage
during the Q&A: "If you don't push yourself to fail, you stagnate."
The idea of creating as real of a situation as possible also went into the cinematography and camera choice. An unobtrusive, low profile 7D disappeared into the scene. "It's a process of trying to get the actors to forget about the camer and forget they're acting." DP John Gulesarian said Doremus' process means the whole thing is approached a bit like a documentary. Since the actors are improvising, he shoots everything. He
doesn't know where they will go next. There were 70 hours of footage in the
end, which was "a really fun process because you're constantly rewriting the
Doremus also employs
method acting. The lovers in "Like Crazy" shared a living situation for a
month. This whole filmmaking technique in my mind is brilliant. The actors are
thrilled because they are empowered: they don't get this experience anywhere
else. They get to push themselves. Simple enough: great work and brilliant
performances come from happy, passionate, empowered team members.
It's interesting to
think that this improv approach, which if I'm not mistaken was first
popularized by Mike Leigh (though Leigh uses improv even more extensively), may
be gaining more and more power. Two weeks ago the first director I met at
Shriekfest, Micah Levin, used the same approach for his first feature "Opus." Since
a digital culture and the internet means that everyone is a filmmaker, and since
we watch them all in the same place, our personal computer, the lines between
what is fancy theatre film and home movies are blurred. Reality and documentary
have a larger influence on "film" than right now than ever before.
Like Crazy is not dialog
heavy, it's more emotional, and very visual (same with Drive...) When Doremus and
Jones decided to write a movie together they agreed first on tone, and the kind of movie more than anything. During
the film's conception they traded music, music videos, and other visuals back
and forth. Okay, I'll stop comparing it to "Drive", in just a minute, but I
watched an interview with Ryan Gosling about his first meeting with Director
Nicolas Winding Refn. Gosling picked up Refn from the airport one night in LA
and put on music in the car. As they cruised the freeways listening to music Refn
started crying because he realized the movie at that time.
At the end of the panel,
the Like Crazy creative team said what theme they most take away from the film,
in 140 characters or less (Oh, Twitter). "Love matters," said Doremus. "Love is
important and love matters and it's worth loving all your life."
"The first love is the
most real in a lot of ways," said producer Andrea Sperling.
Jones agreed with
everything that was said prior, then took a different stance. "The wonder that
is nostalgia- how memories are precious things..."