Monday, March 4, 2013

An Interview With David Mamet

I'm happy to see that everyone is excited about David Mamet joining our roster. Many have wanted to know the back story, so we sat down for a quick interview so you can hear more from the man himself...

Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Aero Film: The story of how you hooked up with Aéro Film is a funny one. Can you tell your side of it?

DAVID MAMET: I was bumming coffee off some fellows in an office at the airport. They were lovely guys, and I greatly enjoyed their hospitality. After a year or so I asked them what they did with all the planes and equipment out there, and they explained to me. One thing led to another, and a year or so later they asked me what I did, and I told them, and Lance said, perhaps we should do something together, and there you have it.

AF: Indeed! So now that you're at Aéro , what are your plans?

DM: Aero will represent me for commercial work, and I hope that we may, additionally, make some movies or otherwise get into some kind of trouble.

AF: Thankfully, we like trouble, so you're in the right place. I know you get asked about your movies all the time, can you tell our us about your philosophy on commercials?

DM: Commercials are particularly intriguing. Whether or not they are art I can’t say; but they certainly are drama. One remembers commercials seen once fifty years ago, as the canny directors and writers figured out, both independently and to greater effect, the essence of the theories of Eisenstein. He, and his contemporaries, understood that the power of film lies in the cut: that if one can take two simple images and arrange them so that the audience itself makes the connection, the idea which they have arrived at, will stay in their head. This was, again, independently, the theory of Bernays, the inventor of Public Relations, who wrote that the only truly effective ideas were those which broke the thought process. Thus he, Eisenstein, and Bernbach came to the same conclusion. Nobody remembers the first two, but everyone in advertising knows that the photo of the Beetle with the one-word “Lemon”, launched Volkswagen in the U.S.

AF: Why is the theory important to a filmmaker? 

DM: Here’s why. One group of Bedouins is in the desert, they see a Coke sign; they are joined by a group of Cowboys, by some motorcycle toughs, and by a busload of PRISCILLA drag queens, all of whom are racing to the sign. So far so good. They race each other to the sign. Now we see disappointment on their faces. We cut back to the sign, to see that, in its entirety it reads “Coke, Fifty Miles.” They set off again.

The supposed end of the quest disappoints them, we wonder why and, in the cut are given the answer. The synthesis, thirst/struggle, ends in the idea of REDOUBLED DEDICATION. And that’s not all you get, as, when the groups set off to the next stop, we, the audience wonder what happens next. We, in the words of Aristotle, have discovered something both surprising and inevitable. We haven’t been told, we have discovered it, and so, have a stake in the struggle. Now, I yield to no man in my love of Coca Cola. I well remember the six-ounce green glass bottles in the cooler (one dime, a nickel in the South), and I, as an adolescent, loved Coca Cola above all things previous to the discovery of sex. Am I a big enough whore, however, to put a Coke commercial on a par with BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN? Probably. My point here, however, is not that the Coke commercial is “A great film,” but that it is the paradigm or model for a great film. George Stevens wrote that film is nothing but one scene effectively superseded by another. And so it is; and if one can craft a great scene (e.g. the Coke ad), one can, theoretically, craft a perfect sequence of them, and have a great film.

AF: What are you looking forward to most by becoming a part of the Aéro family?

DM: I like to work. I like to fly around and hang out with the lads, and my wife has expensive taste in shoes.

AF: Noted! Anything you'd like to add?

DM: Since my last commercial I have directed a play on Broadway, and a film for HBO, PHIL SPECTOR. This is a rather mythological view, and my attempt to pay back Jean Cocteau for the stupid torchieres on the staircase which were really human arms. That scene makes me throw up. I don’t know about style. I don’t know if form follows function. I do know that beautiful form follows function. I know this not only from hanging around airplanes, but from dating. Filmmaking is The Big Doll House. It is the world’s best fun, the unwritten proviso regarding repayment for the fun is: do the best you can.


Stay tuned for more info on David's HBO movie, premiering March 24th!

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