I'm writing this post from the road to San Diego from Los Angeles as we tear down the highway to make it on time to the Opening Night film and after party to the San Diego International Film Festival where our film ROAD TO THE WELL is screening twice as part of the Official Narrative Competition.
By a twist of good fortune I was offered a role in a pilot last week. An A-List actor I'm not at liberty to mention was attached to the part until the week before, he was unable to do it due to filming commitments on a studio film, through a friend of a friend they got a hold of my reel and based on that I was offered the part.
When I got to set I sat down with the shows creator and star Lucy Davis, who was one of the original cast of the British The Office, and currently shooting Wonder Woman for Warner Brothers. I remember the profound affect The Office had on my sense of humor early on, as it managed successfully to pull of that rare beast in comedy a genuine sense of abstraction rooted in a stark emotional reality. In the first episode, Lucy's character Dawn breaks down crying after hearing that she's being laid off only to be told it was a practical joke gone wrong by her socially awkward boss David Brent played by Ricky Gervais.
On the set of KICK last weekend Lucy and I discussed our characters. Director Scott Adsit joined us as we were discussing the nuances of the scenes that ride the line between comedy and drama, and how this piece in particular had both the elements of a dark comedy and a moving dramatic piece. Lucy was saying that she is continually seeking simplicity in her work, to accomplish more with less. Scott recounted Ingmar Bergman’s advice to actors which was essentially when in doubt do nothing and the context of the story will tell your emotional life, the audience will project their own feelings into your face. As we were having this discussion my eye caught a Jackson Pollock reproduction in the background, I responded with Mark Rothko’s search for the existential void in his work, that as he got more and more refined within his paintings until the canvas was completely black and then he killed himself. Scott mentioned the recent production of “Red” he saw in New York with Aaron Paul and Alfred Molina, which I wish I saw, about Rothko not wanting to sell out the constancy of his work by accepting an incredibly large commission from a hotel franchise.. Then I responded that I prefer an artist like Picasso who mastered realism or the classical style in portraiture at a very young age and then sort to continually evolve in his work, but in a way that did not seem to be a complete dismissal of his past accomplishments or the accomplishments of the fine art tradition in oil painting, but a progression to it. Scott responded with a story about Picasso’s early life with his father, as his father was also an artist he had Picasso drawing from toddler age, however when in his teens Picasso produced a picture of a bird so beautiful that his father put down his brushes forever, as his son had surpassed him.
My father also had a difficult relationship with abstract expressionists like Rothko, more about that on the development page for the film I'm working on about my father's life The Peter Fuller Project
I do sometimes wonder, if all this knowledge of other peoples work and the world outside my own head is as valuable as I’d once hoped it would be, as they say in Nuero Luingustic Programming "the map is not the territory". At the end of Alain de Botton's first book "How Proust Can Change Your Life" he observes the last statement Proust seeks to make in his sweeping novel of memories "In Search Of Lost Time" is that even the best books in literature are worthy of being put aside in favor of life itself. In acting all things are only helpful to what is in the end considered to be ‘talent’, or better put an intuition for human behavior. There’s a documentary about intuition playing at San Diego Film Fest screening on October 2nd, that I’m excited to see called INN SAEI: THE POWER OF INTUITION.
I’ve got a packed schedule for the fest, in the mornings we’ll be visiting the leopard sharks in La Jolla cove as it’s their breeding season at the moment, during the days and nights in between glamorous parties including Variety's 'Night Of The Stars', we’ll be attending screenings, including;
TRESPASS AGAINST US intense and brutal thriller set in south west England where I was born, starring Michael Fassbender and Brendon Gleeson. From the trailer the style looks starkly real with a human nakedness which bares a reality for a certain way of life unapologetically.
CROSSING BHUTAN about the plight of the Buddhists in Tibet, a subject that was first brought to my attention around 14 when I watched through all of Scorese’s films and came across Kundun. I'm curious to see what if anything has changed for these people and their way of life since.
TE ATA this one I feel will be really interesting because it stars Q’orianka Kilcher, Hollywood has had a hard time casting her since her incredible debut in Terrence Malick's NEW WORLD, based on the origins of the Pocahontas. Malick's film underperformed in many ways, but it's well worth looking back to as one that went under the radar. Again judging from the trailer, TE ATA has a Terrence Malick like feel to it.
AMERICAN FABLE is one I've had my eye on the Festival circuit for some time. I'm particularly interested to see the dark fantasy elements to this film, as I was obsessed with Jim Henson's 'Labrynth' and 'Dark Crystal' as a boy then of course by Guilermo Del Toro's early films as in my late teens early twenties.
DEAD DRAW is the closest in feeling to Road To The Well a brutal Americana thriller with masculine competition fighting and angeling for the end prize in the game of life.
DENIAL starring Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson and Timothy Spall, in what looks to be a part unlike anything he’s done before, this must have come soon after his incredible performance in MR TURNER (I wrote more about this movie for Modern Painters in this article Radicals On Film: The Intertwining Legacies of Peter Fuller & John Ruskin)
LION was a film that was added to the schedule last minute. This Australian film starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman has been getting a huge amount of traction at the festivals, at its premier at TIFF a couple weeks ago Nicole Kidman said to the press 'I think film festivals are so important right now' and I am inclined to agree with her, I came to America to participate in US independent film, inspired by filmmakers like Scorsese, PT Anderson, the Coen Brothers or their much younger counterpart in Jon Cvack and to participate in film festivals like SDiFF, I could not be more grateful for that desire's manifestation.
We're about to pull up at the beach house we're staying at by La Jolle Cove, be sure to follow my social media for red carpet pictures at the screenings, parties with the Road To The Well crew and Q&As! Between playful sharks along the California coastline and the pulse of independent films in America, adventure awaits!