The Interview with Marc Forster (Director)
Our Man in Hollwood is back! Marc Forster the Swiss director who's previous work featured stars like Halle Berry and Johnny Depp. Also his newest Film Stay has people from the A-Lists attached to it. Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts star in and David Benioff (25th hour) wrote the trippy and mind-bending Stay, a thriller set in New York about a psyichatrist who treats an suicidal student. The film failed to excite critics and is said to be very difficult to understand.
In the OutNow.CH-Interview, Forster, who's brother was schizophrenic and killed himself, tries to explain the very personal film and tells us why he wanted the film to be like this exactly.
OutNow.CH (ON): Stay seems to be set in a different reality.
Marc Forster (MF): Sometimes it is hard for me to say that where we live in today is a reality. In my own life I often have an issue with what reality I am in, because dreaming is such a big part of my life. But this film obviously doesn't play in the reality we know. You could call it someone's dream or subconscious. I leave that open to the interpretation of the audience.
ON: What does a director inspire to make a movie, where the audience never really knows what's going on?
MF: I like it like this, when I see a movie. So many Hollywood movies are explained from start to finish. I think it's important to ask questions and to be left in the unknown, because I think you get more out of it. People ask to little nowadays, therefore I think it is important that movies like Stay are made. It is a film for a different kind of public. I believe they want to see films like this but very often don't have an opportunity to see something like it. If people just want to be entertained it might not be the right film for them. Stay should be taken as a visual experience.
ON: Did the actors know what was going on at all times?
MF: I wouldn't say so. The actors and I tried to discuss it in the beginning, but we soon noticed that everybody needs to come up with his own logic. As a director I then had to direct them intuitively. Someone might think now that if a movie is not set in the real world, you can do whatever you want. But it's not like this. It's much more difficult. It was one of the most difficult films to shot for me in that sense. But like this you start feeling a little like Ewan McGregor's character, who tries to analyze the situation rationally but the situation then gets more and more out of hand. Bob Hoskins told me that he didn't understand the story even after reading the script twice or three times. When I asked him why he still wanted to make the movie with me, he said, that's exactly want interests him: to find the character while making the film.
ON: Have you been influenced by any other works in literature or film for Stay?
MF: Not really. It's a part of my dreams and my world. Certain things are very personal to me. On the other hand all artists are influenced by someone. Certain movies like Alphaville by Godard or Petulia by Richard Lester, the Nicolas Roeg-Films or even Parallax View by Alan Pakula are influences. A lot of people also compare it to modern time directors like David Lynch, even though I didn't consciously think of his work, when I did my film. I was orientating myself more towards the sixties. I also see the movie very much like a painting. Some part are like M.C. Escher for instance, since there is no beginning and no end. I also personally think that in our lifes there is no beginning and end. I do believe in reincarnation.
ON: Do you know Ambrose Bierces Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge? It uses the same twist like your film.
MF: Of course. The script writer based some of his work on this short story. I knew about it. But I didn't want to focus on the end of the story but more on the content. I tried to adapt the story visually and use a lot of metaphors. The end was supposed to be something floating, not a tricky end which we already saw a hundred times. I wanted it to be open so there would be more than one interpretation.
ON: Stay is set in New York City, where you also lived as a film student. Did personal experiences you had in this city end up in the film?
MF: When lived in New York I had these dreams at night. I wasn't sure if it was a dream or if it was reality. I lived for like three months in that sort of schizophrenic stage in which I was not sure what was real and what was not. It was very irritating because I had no logic anymore in my life. I couldn't hold myself anymore. This is sort of a reflection of the film. Also, coming back this time around was very different. I used to life in a bunker in the basement, now I had an apartment and could eat where ever I wanted. I experienced New York very differently. This duality of New York - the rich and the poor - is also very dreamlike. But I never wanted to do aerial shots of the skyline. That is what everybody always does when filming there. The only iconic location you can recognize in my film is the Brooklyn Bridge.
Marc Forster in Berlin
ON: How did you manage the transitions in the film?
MF: They were all planned prior, when I started thinking about the film. This was always one of the key elements in the story telling. I orchestrated all of it through story boards.
ON: Who made the music for the film?
MF: The score was done by Asche & Spencer. I worked with them on Monster's Ball already. I sent them the script and said just write me the music for it. I knew that I would need eight hours of music for it. When I got it back I was inspired by some of it and followed that direction when I started shooting. We also played some of the music, when the editor was cutting. We checked what worked and what didn't. Like this it improved and grew. The Massive Attack song in the strip club came about when we did photographs prior to the shooting. We played "Angel" against it and it fit.
MF: I knew that when I'm going to do a movie like this I am not going to make a financial blockbuster. It's a very personal movie that I am not making for the entire world. It's not that I am trying to do a King Kong here. I knew from the beginning that people would either love it or hate it. This was obvious to me so I wasn't really paying attention to the press.
ON: Your next film will be Stranger than Fiction, a comedy with Will Ferell. Would you agree, that they are the hardest thing to make?
MF: Yes. Comedy is the hardest because if nobody laughes the film doesn't work. That's why i was waiting for a while to make one. But the script was very special to me. It has an incredible humanity and it's a very life affirming film. After Stay I really needed a film which is uplifting.
ON: Have there been test screenings already? Do you know if it is working?
MF: I finished the first rough cut and I had a little research screening and it was working. So I am very happy with it.