Because one serving just wasn't enough!
Sun, 21 August 2005
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After Buttonhole's initial Interview with NZ based director Mark Prebble, plenty of further developments have taken place for him, his film Futile Attraction and more. It seemed like the best thing to do would be for us to run a follow up interview! Mr. Prebble agreed.
So, right here and now, dear readers, you can see for yourselves what came from our conversation and get an inside look at the brilliant mind's of two of Australasia's emerging megastars. This is the interview that could change the course of history and make the world a better place for all of humanity! Okay, obviously that's not true. I was just trying to make myself laugh and hype this thing to an outrageously ridiculous level.
Basically, I just made most of the questions up as I went along and Mark provided some great answers. I really did find the interview interesting and amusing though, so hopefully you will too!
Sammy: How are things going in regards to your conversations with AV Channel and securing DVD distribution/publication for Futile Attraction?
Mark: Exceptional. I can give you the breaking news...not even announced on my website yet...
Sammy: Ooh, juicy.
Mark: Futile Attraction now has commercial distribution! Australia is still to be finalised so is a bit up in the air, but FA will come out on DVD in October here (in New Zealand) and will hopefully have a short theatrical run at the same cinema we premiered at.
Sammy: Wow, that's fantastic news!
Mark: Yeah, it's been a good week...
Sammy: Also, I guess that means we can get a copy of the DVD and review it at Buttonhole!
Mark: Totally. In the meantime a short film of mine, The Adventures of Spectacularman recently went online: www.nzshortfilm.com
Sammy: I was just reading about that, on your website. I'll check that out for sure and give it a 'mini review' for our readers at some stage. Of course they can also click the link and take a look at it for themselves.
Mark: It was made for the 48hour film competition here. You are given a character name, a prop, a line of dialogue and a genre. Then you have 48 hours to do everything else. I did manage to also squeeze in a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds concert, which I was particularly proud of...
Sammy: Nice one. He's a big favourite to many Buttonholers too.
Mark: To further shamelessly plug it...the more people here that watch it and rate it, well, the more others it will be exposed to, etc.
Sammy: It sounds like the kind of film that's ideal for many of our readers (and staff) too, with the superhero theme and all.
Mark: Yeah, it's pretty silly and good fun. I'm hoping to stick it as a bonus feature on the (Futile Attraction) DVD. We shall see.
Sammy: That sounds like a top idea to me. Getting back to Futile Attraction, our last interview was posted in early February. Basically, you'd just raised all the moolah to actually get the film finalised at that stage, I believe. So, please fill us in on some of what's happened since then. In particular the movie's premiere.
Mark: Well, we finished it all obviously, which was a bit of last minute stress. As you can imagine, when you are doing things on the cheap and using favours, they sometimes collapse and you're left in the lurch. But we got there.
Sammy: Sure, I can relate to that somewhat.
Mark: We then started organising our big gala premiere. It took place at the Paramount Cinema in Wellington, on June 28. We had a shit load of media coverage, which was awesome. Four TV shows covered it, three within a twelve hour period! One of those items was broadcast on the net and I think there is still a link to it somewhere on my latest news page if anyone wants to watch it. We had about 400 people in the theatre which blew me away.
Sammy: That's an impressive showing.
Mark: It seemed a particular achievement, given there was a rugby game on (Lions vs. All Blacks, I think) which is virtually impossible to drag kiwis away from...
Sammy: Haha, yep, true!
Mark: The audience really got into it and we got big laughs throughout. That was the biggest thrill for me. It's a comedy, so the only real proof of success or failure is whether or not the audience laughs. There was one heart stopping moment, when the projection equipment crapped out and stopped playing any soundtrack. I'm sure it only took 10 minutes to fix but it felt like 3 hours!
Sammy: I remember reading about that. It must have scared the shit out of you at the time.
Mark: Yeah, but it turned out okay. Me and Peter (lead actor) got up on stage and entertained the crowd with a live audio-commentary of what everyone would be watching if it was still playing. This turned out pretty funny and in line with the way the rest of the film had gone.
Sammy: That's some quick thinking.
Mark: The audience loved it and I think we gave them a pretty unique movie watching experience all in all, which is the ultimate goal of any filmmaker.
Sammy: For sure. That would just make it all the more memorable for them. Did you get any footage of that?
Mark: One of the TV crews did.
Sammy: I'd love to see it!
Mark: Me too, I imagine they'll be all copyright restricted on it though and want $1000's to use the footage in anything else.
Sammy: Well, that's a bummer. I always wonder with movie premieres, where the director/writer is watching the audience's reaction; did they laugh at the jokes you liked most yourself? Or did they like some parts more, or less, than you'd expected?
Mark: It's always different. The audience rarely laughs in the parts that make you laugh, but inevitably laughs the most in parts you didn't even intend to be particularly funny. But hey - I'll take any laugh I can get.
Sammy: That's exactly what I was wondering. Really, as long as they enjoy it, that's the main thing I suppose. But it is interesting, how the audience finds things of their own about a movie to enjoy, that you might not have even intended. Comedy, and art in general, is interesting that way.
Mark: Totally, comedy can be like a Rorschach test (the psycho-therapy inkblot things). Everyone sees totally different things as funny. You can never predict what someone else will find funny and basically have to make something that makes you laugh. One of the interesting things about shooting the film was seeing other parts become funny.
Sammy: It might evolve in ways you'd not anticipated I guess, but you need to allow it to do that and not force it too much. Forced comedy is awful, like many of those US sitcoms which are all exactly the same.
Mark: I think an important part of directing is letting everyone else do their job and not be precious about where the good stuff comes from. All the actors brought their own humour to the roles and they all changed and evolved as characters, from the ones me and Ben wrote. If we had been militant about keeping them exactly the way we wrote them, then it would have killed the spontaneity (and just plain weird shit) that happens moment to moment. It basically wouldn't have been as funny. I'm really proud of the final product and that I let it evolve into its own thing
Sammy: What are some of your favourite comedies? Did any of them in particular provide inspiration for futile attraction?
Mark: Well...Monty Python obviously, I think that goes without saying. I really dig Christopher Guests movies and they were an inspiration.
Sammy: Well, that's good news for me. I'm a fan too.
Mark: I grew up watching old black and white comedies like Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy and Harold Lloyd. I should also recognise the immense talents of the "ZAZ" team â€" David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker (at least their '70's and '80's work), Ben Elton, Peter Sellers and Woody Allen. I'm a big fan of absurdity. I guess the people I rate the highest are the writers of great comedy, more than the performers (although they are obviously a massive part of realising the written stuff)
Sammy: Yep. Also those who can do both. And those who can improvise, as you had to do at the Futile Attraction premiere!
Mark: Yeah, spontaneous comedy, (when it works) is beautiful to watch. Speaking of good writers, I totally dig Charlie Kaufman.
Sammy: He is probably my favourite film writer at the moment, so I can see we have some similar tastes.
Mark: (returning to the subject of comedy) There was a wicked comedy festival in Auckland earlier this year. It featured some great acts - a silent Japanese duo called Gamarjubat. I liked Charlie Pickering, an Australian comedian. And some of my favourite kiwi comics like Taika Cohen and Flight of the Conchords (who are all in Futile Attraction)
Sammy: As you told me, Taika was up for the short fim oscar for his movie Two Cars One Night. I laughed when I saw him on TV at the most recent Academy Awards, pretending to be asleep as they announced his name as one of the nominations.
Mark: Comedy is criminally underrated as an art form. I think it is much harder to pull off than people give it credit for.
Sammy: I agree. I was curious, when your movie was still getting made and with the pressure and stress involved, how did your relationships with the cast and crew hold up? Some people seem to bond during things like that, while others seem to spit the dummy and crack the shits with everyone.
Mark: When you are doing no budget stuff, you usually attract actors and crew who are willing to go that extra mile as they know it's on the cards.
Sammy: And they are more in it for the art, rather than ego?
Mark: Yeah, they do it because they love it. I became good mates with lots of the people involved and have worked with them again (like in Spectacularman). There were definitely some stressful moments, but I think I only raised my voice once and didn't fall out with anyone.
Sammy: If you truly love what you are doing, I reckon that's half way to making anything succeed. It also hopefully comes across to the audience. Sounds to me like Futile Attraction has done that with those who have seen it.
Mark: Yep. With comedy it's pretty obvious if the people doing it aren't having fun.
Sammy: Good point! One last thing I wanted to ask you about. I was impressed by Enric Giro and his publicity work for you. He seems like a top bloke. How did he get involved?
Mark: Yeah he's pretty amazing. I've never met him, spoken to him, or even seen a photo! He e-mailed me one day, after finding his way to the site from England and asked how he could help. I asked him to try and raise publicity in UK any way he could. Before I know it he's organised articles with websites in Malaysia, USA, Europe, UK and Australia. I promoted him to UK publicist, a title he has more than earned. The other important thing to mention is that he doesn't even have a computer...
Mark: He's been spending up to 2 hours a day in his local library surfing the net finding all these websites and getting them interested. He's even got Ifilm keen and hopefully they'll have the trailer up in a couple of weeks. You should ask him more about it too, I think he deserves a lot of credit.
Sammy: I agree. That's an amazing effort and a fantastic story. Well done Enric! Okay, I'd say we've about covered everything. Thanks for your time Mark and congratulations on all the big news!
Mark: Sweet as. Thanks for the publicity. I'll send you a DVD to review when they are ready.
Sammy: Looking forward to it. See ya later.
That's all (for now) folks! Be sure to check out Mark's Adventures of Spectacularman online. I will let you know more about the Futile Attraction DVD, as soon as I know more about it myself! Rock on.
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