Kitty Arends is interviewing me for the Rotterdam Film Festival 2008 New Arrivals…
( SHMETAMORPHOSIS will screen there in 2008…and in the past years THE ECSTASY OF GARY GREEN and A WONDROUS FILM ABOUT EMMA BROOKS have screened in Rotterdam….)
I’m posting the answers to some of the questions…she’s asked me to consider….
You may…(or you may not)…be curious…
For KITTY ARENDS…AMSTERDAM
( By Jack Feldstein, Sydney, Australia )
Thank you for the opportunity to answer your insightful questions.
Writing is at the basis of all my work. A person must have something they are compelled to say…about people, the world, psychology, literature, relationships, love, sex, gender etc….and then say it.
And writing is my key to that.
I started my professional career as a playwright. I wrote a play…it won a young playwrights’ prize and I was hooked.
My university eductation was, however, in Science. (Pharmacology and Pharmacy)….And writing a play burst out of me…like in the movie “Alien”. I then went and studied scriptwriting at Theatre School and then at Film School here.
When I was young, I didn’t know I was a writer. That’s because I excelled in mathematics and science. And so I thought I was a science type person. With glasses and the ability to love calculus. The play, in my 20’s… was more or less the first thing I ever wrote, besides say…a grocery list. Or a set of equations. So it came as a shock to me that I was secretly a writer.
And because I had the astonishing experience that inside me, lived, hidden to the outside world, a writer…I figured maybe other abilities existed inside me too. This has proved right. And a whole crowd ( animator/filmmaker/director/producer) has emerged.
I’ve also discovered that many abilities don’t live inside me. Like playing football.
The common drive of all my work is to express what’s inside my head. Otherwise, if I didn’t do that, I have a feeling my head might explode.
In scriptwriting I think it’s very important to know the rules thoroughly, first. And then I think…these days…it’s important to break them. We live in a post traditional filmic world where most things have already been done. So repeating past narratives in the same way…can become, perhaps, boring….or predictable.
You mention I treat things in a certain ironic way. Hah! Most of what I do…is ironic. I can’t help it. It’s my curse.
Reincarnated Modernism ( metempsychotic modernism)…is my aesthetic. I utilise visual references and re-incarnate them and infuse them with new meaning. The narrative is clear and quite modernist…but the style is post-post modern. Reincarnated modernism. But reincarnated in my own idiosyncratic way, of course. Because that’s the only way…I’ve got.
The Australian Woody Allen. Hah! The fact is that I embrace my neuroses…just like he does…so I see the similarities…but the bigger irony is…that Australia is the least neurotic place in the world. Things are quite uncomplicated here….and so me being neurotic…is completely out of place. And very strange here. However, the beauty of being Australian and neurotic…is that I am an optimistic, hopeful neurotic!
Which is quite different from the other neurotics all over the world.
Woody Allen is a marvellous writer. That’s the strength of all his work. I respect him very much. Spalding Gray was a monologuist of the 80’s and 90’s in the USA. He suicided a few years ago.
I was influenced by him …because he was a man who I also felt was compelled to tell you what was in his head….or he would explode. The trouble is…obviously, he imploded. So I’m trying not to do that. Again…it’s a fact that…being in sunny Sydney…makes a person less prone to jumping in the river and drowning oneself.
I am a big fan of Don Hertzfeldt ( Bitter Films) animation.
“I woke up one morning and began making neon films.”
Is actually quite true. I had worked for quite a while as a scriptwriter in TV and interactive scriptwriting…and then the industry here went through a rough patch…and there was little work as a scriptwriter. So something compelled me to go study modern art and post modern art theory…at art school here…
And in my head…an explosion occurred…like a chemical reaction….and I began making neon films. It didn’t surprise me that much because I’d already in my life…had writing explode out of me…so I was quite used to things exploding out of me…seemingly from nowhere.
Neonism…describes the look of my style…but it also means newness. Newness is the future. In other words, art will always re-invent itself…with the help of technology….and that’s so exciting…and infinitely unpredictable…and interesting.
Who knows what people will create? Maybe a new Mozart will be born. A new Sophocles!
And they’ll be utilising new technology that is yet to be invented. Or being invented now.
After all papyrus had to be invented for Sophocles to write…
The thought is thrilling to me…
Recycling public domain material…and giving it new meaning…is so exciting a concept…I can hardly breathe while I’m writing this sentence. Reincarnating and reinterpreting the past
to create something for now…is something I believe strongly in. I love that idea and it drives me.
The great modernist writers like Kafka, Proust, Joyce, Kerouac etc…are writers I admire very much. The films I make about them are homages. Though because I can’t help being ironic,
the purists…are often offended.
I try to explain that irony is my curse…but that doesn’t seem to appease them.
I’m not really a post modern artist. Because at the core of my films is hope and a certain optimism. And that’s not post modern. But it is Australian.
If I have an idea or moral to convey…it is that there is always a solution to anything…( It’s like Maths. Find “x”! )
You have to find that solution. And work pro-actively to do that.
Overcoming obstacles…be they inner psychological demons….or external problems…is the narrative.
Of course, my ironic self says…once you find that solution…it’s often not what you thought it’d be. But never mind.
Metempsychotic Modernists is a blog of certain like-minded individuals…they’re mostly at the moment in New York and Sydney……it’s associated with Bad Boy Bedlam…a New York based…art magazine…where my work has been presented.
I believe in encouraging others to post their work…or discuss my work…I post my neon animations on that blog….but mostly my philosophy is…
“Make something….and the world will tell you, what you’ve made. ”
Whether you like what the world tells you…now that’s another story…