I'm just looking / Just looking for a way around

'L'Amour fou was just a phrase and became thirty pages.'
(Pics: Miami Vice, Heat, Out of Sight)



It was always very important to me to be able to get involved in diverse situations. The biggest challenge for an arranger is to be able to deal with different styles and personalities. But it is even more important to make sure that the artist achieves its goals either musically or even commercially. It´s also essential to work with the record company to make sure that they are happy enough to spend good money in promotion for that particular project. It would be a very serious mistake to go against the record company or trying to impose your musical "views" into a project that needs your help and specific work done.
Q: Breathless put you at the center of the French New Wave. Were you surprised?

A: I was out of work and needed the money. The producer asked Columbia, which then owned my old Preminger contract, if I was available. He gave Columbia a choice of $12,000 or 50% of the world profits. With great foresight, Columbia took the $12,000. It was shot for $76,000 in five weeks. Most of the time we worked half days. We'd break and sit around in cafes. One day the producer saw us, it was his last card, and he got into a fistfight with Godard because we weren't working.
Q: When will your next solo release come out and what can we expect from it?

A: I don't know and I don't know.


Who's gonna pay attention to your dreams?

Ungraded set pic: Nathan Meister in the passenger seat c/- director Jonathan King.


St Valentine's Day massacres

The victim who has been hacked to death and left in the Bayou is an analogue for the movie itself of In the Electric Mist, based on the James Lee Burke novel. Directed by Betrand Tavernier, Tommy Lee Jones's Dave Robicheaux remains too faithful to the character, which has panicked the studio to cut the narrative in an effort to get things moving -- a mistake, because detective novels are all about sitting around. But the movie still works. It has Burke's voice, and his atmosphere and his landscape, with its sudden, emotional bursts of colour. In The Electric Mist could have been Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans or No Country For Old Men but in its bones it's Chinatown, i.e. a movie that wants to be a crime novel: complicated and puzzling for most of its length until the resolution appears right where it started. Also: Kelly Macdonald. All movies with Kelly Macdonald in them are good movies.

It's taken me this long to see Before The Devil Knows You're Dead and if I had to draw up a list of the ten best noir movies I've seen it would come in at around number four. Sidney Lumet directed it and it's a fucking gem: modern, shabby, direct and as black as night. Shot in digital, interestingly, a long time before people were talking about that. If you like Black Widow, Against All Odds (one of the best remakes of Out Of The Past) or The Morning After you should really tuck into this. Lumet calls it a melodrama but it's realistic and dirty and moving. The DVD includes a good making of documentary featuring interviews with the cast, producers and director, but not author Kelly Masterson.


Shadows and fog

Some more thumbnails from the set of Realiti, the micro-budget SF movie that director Jonathan King is shooting around Wellington and parts of Auckland. Top to bottom: Miranda Manasiadis and Nathan Meister lurking in the shadows; Graham McTavish giving the news; Nathan Meister hearing it; and Michelle Langstone on her way to something that may or may not happen. Jonathan has been shooting in digital in real locations with found light and a crew so small I'm not sure whether to call it a guerilla or a skeleton.

Realiti is pared-back science fiction: my idea, when I wrote it, was that the characters would come into a room and just talk. I keep referring to it as a science fiction film with no special effects, although when Jonathan is through with it there will be some opticals: removal of objects, fiddling with backgrounds, that kinda thing. Much of our discussion about the movie is what it won't be, and what won't be in it. In many ways it's a noir... but more colourful than that: stranger.

I wrote the script for Jonathan a long time ago. We revived the project after putting our toes back in the water by making on a comic strip, City Lights, which I wrote and he drew. One of the many things I love about these images as they trickle through is the way they evoke the director's drawing style. It's a good sign, I think: evidence that the movie's visual style is evolving naturally.

These preview pics are very small and have not been graded. And the shoot is just coming up to halfway: there's a long way to go yet. But the actors are looking way cool and the footage is looking great. Build it simple, fly it slow...