Gus Van Sant: interview

0

Comments

Add +

Ben Walters talks to Gus Van Sant about shooting, casting and soundtracking his new film 'Paranoid Park'.

You chose non-professional actors from an open casting call for ‘Paranoid Park’, as you did with ‘Elephant’.
It’s because they’re set in high schools. I always thought teenagers are youthful enough that they’ve pretended recently; it wasn’t so long ago that they were playing war or trying to be Rambo. It’s play-acting. We tried it for ‘Last Days’ but those characters were rock ’n’ rollers in their mid-twenties, and none of those people would come to our casting calls, so we ended up casting our friends. If you put up posters around town for high-school kids, high-school kids will come. If you’re casting politicians, you can’t put up posters and have politicians come down. Also, with reality shows and ‘American Idol’, non-professionals don’t feel they’re excluded like they might have 20 years ago.

Most of your films are about lost boys of one kind or another.

They usually have male characters, lost boys, but often it’s ad hoc families that are interesting to me. Because I didn’t have brothers, I was always interested in the kids down the street that had four brothers in their family, so I became one of them – but it was not my family.
I’ve always been attracted to temporary families. They tend to be lost characters.

How did you and Chris Doyle develop the look of the film?

I’d worked together with Chris before on ‘Psycho’, but we didn’t get very crazy there – we pretty much tried to copy [Hitchcock’s movie]. So this was our opportunity to do something else. One of Chris’s films that I liked was ‘Fallen Angels’ [directed by Wong Kar-Wai], which used a wide lens. I knew that skateboarders often use a really wide lens [for skate movies] ’cos that way you won’t miss the action, so I tried talking him into shooting like that. But he had an aversion to directly quoting one of his films, so we kept going into what the story was asking us to do, what I wanted to do and what his choices were. He made a detailed breakdown of the script, about four notebooks long. Most of the time we’re just shooting a human being doing something; we’re very fascinated as audience members with ourselves. So it comes down to environments: coffee shops, country roads, fields.

The music and sound design are also important in giving us access to Alex’s headspace. Did you put much planning into that?

No, that came later. We were thinking about location sound during shooting, but not the music or sound design at all.

The music does a lot of work, though – sometimes it even replaces the dialogue. It feels like Alex is listening to his iPod.

Actually, a lot of the music came from listening to iTunes while we were editing. My assistant editor is sort of a musicologist so we would listen to different things from this massive inventory of his music. Shuffle was usually on and I would say, ‘What is this song? That works really good right here’, and we’d drag it over into Final Cut Pro [the film editing application].

There’s a moment of violence in the film that is very disturbing, to us as well as to Alex.

It was different in the book; I had the idea this would be an interesting graphic. The accident is the thing he’s keeping secret, but what you’re thinking about maybe as you watch it is your secret, or the thing you couldn’t tell anyone when you were that age. You’re forced to become an adult by keeping things in your own mind.

‘Paranoid Park’ is out on December 26.

Author: Ben Walters



Users say

0 comments


Top Stories

Meet the dream team: a preview of ‘Les Misérables’

Meet the dream team: a preview of ‘Les Misérables’

Director Tom Hooper and his cast tell us how they turned the super-musical into movie blockbuster.

Oscar predictions

Oscar predictions

The Time Out film team weighs in on the nominees for the 2013 Academy Awards

January film highlights 2013

January film highlights 2013

Get ready for the big guns… Spielberg, Tarantino and Bigelow

October film highlights

October film highlights

Daniel Craig’s 007 comeback, a genius indie romcom and all the mysteries behind ‘The Shining’ unravelled.

The Time Out film debate 2012 highlights

The Time Out film debate 2012 highlights

The results of our study on the state of films and filmgoing in 2012.

Read 'Time Out film debate 2012 highlights'

Martin Freeman interview

Martin Freeman interview

'The Hobbit' actor tells us why he wouldn't have a pint with Bilbo Baggins.

Sam Mendes interview

Sam Mendes interview

Dave Calhoun speaks to the director of 'Skyfall' about the latest film in the Bond franchise.

Ang Lee interview

Ang Lee interview

The genre-hopping director tells us how he invented a new genre with 'Life of Pi'

Michael Haneke interview

Michael Haneke interview

The twice Palme d'Or-winning director discusses 'Amour'.

Read our interview with Michael Haneke

Thomas Vinterberg interview

Thomas Vinterberg interview

The Danish director talks about his powerful new drama 'The Hunt'.

Read our interview with Thomas Vinterberg'

Ten things the 'Twilight' movies did for us

Ten things the 'Twilight' movies did for us

Time Out looks back at the impact of the 'Twilight' saga.

Discover what 'Twilight' has done for us

On the set of 'Sightseers'

On the set of 'Sightseers'

Time Out heads to the Lake District to visit director Ben Wheatley on set.

Read about our visit to the 'Sightseers' set

Tim Burton interview

Tim Burton interview

The director talks about 'Frankenweenie', which he describes as 'the ultimate memory piece'.

Read our interview with Tim burton

The top ten Christmas films of 2012

The top ten Christmas films of 2012

Our pick of the best films showing over the festive period.

Read 'The top ten Christmas films of 2012'

What's your film guilty pleasure?

What's your film guilty pleasure?

Mean Girls? Dirty Dancing? Tell us your favourite film guilty pleasure.

Read 'Film guilty pleasures'

When teen stars turn serious

When teen stars turn serious

Ten young actors come of age on the silver screen.

Read 'When teen stars turn serious'

50 years of James Bond

50 years of James Bond

From Connery to Craig, we revisit all 22 Bond films.

Read '50 years of James Bond'

Paul Thomas Anderson interview

Paul Thomas Anderson interview

The director talks Scientology and working with Joaquin Phoenix.

Read the interview

Hilarious horror films

Hilarious horror films


Ten funny horror movies which went spectacularly off the rails.

Read 'Hilarious horror films'

Martin McDonagh interview

Martin McDonagh interview

The director talks psychopaths and theatre – 'my least favourite artform'.

Read the interview

Autumn horror films

Autumn horror films

We round-up the five best horror movies of Autumn 2012.

Read about this Autumn's best horror movies

On the set of Skyfall

On the set of Skyfall

Time Out visits Istanbul to see the latest Bond movie being made.

Read 'On the set of Skyfall'

Bond: then and now

Bond: then and now

Does Skyfall refresh or rehash the James Bond franchise?

Sally Potter interview

Sally Potter interview

The British director explains why 'Ginger and Rosa' is her most mainstream film yet.

Daniel Craig interview

Daniel Craig interview

'I’m almost as in demand as Brad Pitt’