Mike Figgis - director
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by Federico Greco
Cineuropa met up with English director Mike Figgis, whose comedy Hotel was nominated for the 2002 MTV Movie Awards. Figgis explains the meaning of the story and why he finally decided to focus on the production of more experimental films.
"The story is a story within a story so there is a Dogma film crew, there’s a producer, a director, the actors.... they’re making a Dogma version of The Duchess of Malfi in Venice.... and then you discover, in a kind of day for night, Truffaut sort of scenario, that the producer is hiring an assassin to kill the director so he can take over as the director. So there’s a sequence where Rhys Ifans, who plays the director, gets shot by an assassin, Andrea Di Stefano, and then he’s in a coma and the producer, played by David Schwimmer, has then taken over the film and carries on filming.
Then you also discover that the hotel in which they are filming the dogma film is run by Julian Sands, Chiara Mastroianni and Danny Huston and so on, and that all the staff in the hotel are cannibals. In fact they’re killing the guests and serving the meat of the guests to the film crew, so in the sense the film crew is eating itself, a kind of a sick metaphor for cinema.
I thought it would be funny to have the film crew be a Dogma film crew because the more I heard about Dogma, which I admire, but at the same time something that becomes so serious so quickly, is also very funny. I though it would be a kind of interesting discussion within the film about Dogma also.
I’ve got to the point where I think cinema is so boring, that the standard 35mm product is so deeply boring because it’s just the same thing over and over and over again, in perfect focus, with perfect sound, and in fact the sound gets more and more boring as they get more desperate and they put more score and John Williams gets louder and louder and louder.
To me the idea of hell would be sitting in a room with George Lucas, John Williams and having to watch all their films over and over again, because it’s like “Where is this going? It’s like hell”. Nothing personal against those people, I’m sure they’re fine human beings, it’s not my idea of cinema.
The film Hotel that we’re presenting this evening is an entirely digital film, very experimental. Please be tolerant be kind,. There was no script for the film. I wrote a treatment, a story outline, and I emailed that to all of the actors before we went to Italy.
The way we made the film was each day we would start by showing all of the film we had done the day before. Because it’s digital you could immediately put it into some form, make a quick mix, add some music, and show the actors a kind of close to a finished film as possible from what we did the day before.
Then we would have a big discussion about what we felt about the scene, and also what the scene suggested we should do next. So, in that sense we had complete freedom, the opposite of a studio film where you have to have a script and you must stick to that script. I encouraged all of the actors, and everybody, to be as free as possible in terms of being open to the idea."