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Notes on the trilogy of the interspatiality of love

About this film

“Abandonment”, Davide Crivelli’s director says late into the film. Abandoned, left alone. This is him, a director left alone with his film. Attempting to write a trilogy, detachment takes over attachment and links. The trilogy falls apart. Abandonment. Crivelli’s film is not only about his fictive director. Notes is a self-reflexive experimental piece that speaks straight out of the heart of many artists, not only filmmakers. Do you believe in yourself, your work? Can you continue, will you continue, despite a lack of acknowledgement, despite discouragement? Crivelli’s film poses these questions in an unusual way and invites not only filmmakers but, most of all, the viewer to reflect about the nature of art itself and the nature of creating it.

Nadin Mai (tao films)

Interview with the Director
Davide, your film tells the story of a director being left alone with his film. Where does the idea for this film come from?

I used to hang out with a friend of mine (Jonathan, in the film credited as “philosopher”) as he was living in Berlin (gossip time: at the time we conceived “Trilogy of the interspatiality of love”, Jonathan's girlfriend was the protagonist of “Bare Romance” by Karel Tuytschaever, also on tao-films.). We had a lot of free time, met a lot of “unconventional” people and watched questionable movies. At the end of summer of 2012, we were sitting in a park trying to be productive and write something good. I don't remember why, but we started collecting headlines for an hypothetical “Trilogy of the interspatiality of love”. Some of them “survived” and are featured in the movie!

Then Jonathan challenged me: I should make a movie out of it. I started writing and the story evolved into “A movie about a director trying to shoot The trilogy of the interspatiality of love” and at the end became a film about a director (quite passively) confronting his art.

You sometimes use overlapping images. One scene that demonstrates this best is almost right at the beginning. We seem to see (and hear) an underwater bomb explosion, a statue, then the face of a woman. Would it be apt to describe those images as “mind images”?

Yes. It is definitely something that goes on in the director's head. The overlapping images are also part of one of the three layers of the story - the present (the most linear and visually static), the notes (with the overlapping images) and “the film in film”.

The explosions with the overlaid statue were also written in the screenplay. The other overlapping images came in the post-production (they were also supposed to be there - just after the explosions - but on their own). I guess I started playing a bit and that was the result. I have to admit that probably JLG enabled all of this. I wrote a version of the screenplay quite similar to the final draft a couple of days after watching “Adieu au langage 3D”.

I love the infinite possibilities and the results of overlapping images one with another. It's like playing with sound: you reach another level, you see new things and it's also fun! With digital postproduction is also technically easy (apart from the computer frying with more than video tracks). The trailer of the film uses the same principle. 10 layers at the beginning, then 9, 8, 7, ... ORG of Fernando Birri (Arsenal Berlin recently re-released a restored version) is a crazy example of overlapping images and sounds ... in the analogical era! This year, at the Berlinale Forum during the almost one-hour Q&A after the screening the editor told us about all the technical “secrets” behind this project (3 hours - over 26.000 cuts and 700 audio tracks) and why the post-production took 12 years!

Sound plays a major role in your film. It has little to do with the images as such. It’s not supportive, bur rather acts as a counterpoint, I find, which creates a powerful effect. Can you tell me a little bit about how you approached the sound design for the film?

Already during the final phases of the screenwriting process I knew where I wanted music and where I wanted diegetic sound. After attending a screening of “Menschen am Sonntag” (Robert Siodmak, 1930, silent film) with live electronic music I developed a very rough concept for the music.

In “Menschen am Sonntag” there are scenes playing near the station of “Zoologischer Garten” in Berlin, which seemed already chaotic at the time. The contrast of the ”chaos of the beginning of the century” and electronic music was really interesting. After seeing this film, I made the decision not to record any live sound of the streets surrounding the exteriors of the two cinemas and, like I said, developed a rough sound-concept for “Notes on”.

I partly disagree with the affirmation that the sound is not supportive. In a way it is supportive. Meaning, during the “film in film” parts we have a recurring sound-path ... so conceptually is supportive. Otherwise you are right. I guess I took the fact that the title is “NOTES ON...” as an “excuse” and I not only used the images as fragments but also the sound(s).

The work with Stefano (sound designer and composer) was quite easy. We already worked together in the past. I told him about the concept (the whole thing, not only the sound-concept) behind every scene/shot, and about how and why I put them together in that way. We talked a lot about music, noises, sounds ... and he came up with this. I love to follow the whole sound design process: I was always in the studio with him. It's an extremely funny thing to do, particularly when there's so much freedom. We can try things, experiment, put sounds together, effects, etc. I put a few obscure references in the soundscapes too!

As I have mentioned before, the first sentence of your film’s synopsis is “A director is left alone with his film.” Is this director Davide Crivelli? I believe what you say here has a broader meaning, given the landscape of film where directors whose films don’t fit the standard aesthetics and narrative structure are literally left alone by the market, by distributors and viewers, and struggle to get their work out there.

The director is not me, in an autobiographical meaning, but there is a part in the film which represents THE nightmare of every artist, performer, or person on a stage quite in a theatrical way. I agree with the “broader meaning”. I didn't shot the movie with this intention, but in a way it's there.

I really like to show my films and in the meanwhile I lost count of how many festival rejections I got. At the beginning this is hard to cope with, then slowly it gets better. I have to admit that sometimes I got a bit frustrated when I stumble upon deplorable films during festival which I love and respect (ahem!). I guess I'm one of the director who's gonna be acknowledged after his/her death (better late than never!).

I also don't have (and don't feel) the necessity or interest to follow a known (to other) “pattern“ simply to gain acceptance from the audience etc. Or to tell stories that have already been told 392948 times by other people in the same way. I find this quite boring. In Berlin there are still possibilities to show your work to an audience (even to a small one and mostly in an “underground“ context). But Berlin is (always) an exception! I'm also based in the south of Switzerland (Ticino): there the situation is a catastrophe. Even the mainstream and independent scenes are struggling. This, however, could be an advantage. The freshness of the new things, I don't know. Sometimes I have the remote desire to start something there (or to shoot something there). I feel, despite everything, there's still is a lot of potential.

I couldn’t put my finger on which influences I saw in your film, but I couldn’t help thinking that your piece was inspired by some large arthouse films. Can you help me illuminating this?

In my (pre)production map and in the production notes I wrote a couple of names, which could be perceived as obscure references. But I like that you actually used “influences“ instead of “references“. All the films that I watched in my life are influencing every film I have shot (thank you!). Sometimes while watching a film I find interesting moments, pictures, sounds or combinations of all of these ... and I make a “mental“ note. I also used to write notes on small cards with a pencil in the obscurity of a movie theatre, but I quit, I already have problem reading what I wrote per hand in daylight. Things then stayed in my “Hinterkopf“ (in the back of my head) and come up from time to time.

For example, I never mentioned nor thought about David Lynch while producing, shooting, post-producing “Notes on“ but when I (re)watch his works I feel he was somehow also there. Some films that have had an influence are Când se lasa seara peste Bucuresti sau metabolism (Corneliu Porumboiu), Ida (Pawel Pawlikowski) and Adieu au Langage 3D (Jean-Luc Godard). All those influences slowly faded during the whole process, letting the film be “itself“.

But most important of all: even if I took care of a good percentage of the creative part of the film we never have to forget that it was a team work. The sound designer, the DOP, the actors, etc. also brought their own influences to the film.

What will we see next from you?

A couple of months ago, I finished the postproduction of “Olympia Dackel“, a film we shot as “Dackel Kollektiv“. It's a slo-mo documentary about Woody, a wiener dog competing in a dachshund race not only for the glory but also for love.

Thank you for this interview.

Thank you!