Interview with Grant Gee

Director of Patience: After Sebald, at The White Review. This is so much better than any coverage of this film that I’ve read in mass media outlets.

A: Grant Gee — If you’re making a documentary and you’ve got talking heads and archive footage, your raw materials are poor and so the setting of the story, the scenography, really makes a difference in making something richer, more cinematic. And it’s cheap. In Joy Division, for instance, we’ve got people in a room talking against a black backdrop and archive footage that people have seen on telly – it’s easier for the viewer to dismiss that. But what else I can do for next to no money is shoot some buildings. Undiscovered archive film often doesn’t have a lot of drama in it, but what you do find is very interesting location information: councils shoot training films in Salford about vandalism, and the most dramatic part of that film is a wasteland, and so the wasteland goes in the documentary. Nothing else about the training film is remarkable, only the shot of the tower block with the policeman on a horse in the foreground in the rubble, like in Tarkovsky perhaps. That is a strand that’s important in my films, but in Patience landscape is important because it’s not a narratively driven film, so the more ambient the cinematography, the better. In that film the landscape and wild track audio is important because it’s static. There’s a lot of information going on in the audio track, so the landscape is a way of entering into the cinematic space.

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Great interview. Interesting to see the Pynchon-Sebald comparison. Too bad Sebald never wrote about Peenemuende; it would have been great to see his description and Pynchon’s set side by side.


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