Interview with Matthew Gordon, director of ‘The Dynamiter’, FEST’s explosive opener
FEST 2012’s opening film is the perfect starter for a summer movie festival. First off, it’s set in a sunny summer in Mississipi and is a story about youth. Secondly, it is american independent cinema at its best. ‘The Dynamiter’ premiered in Berlin and has been praised worldwide – it was even nominated for the John Cassavettes Award at the 2012’s Independent Spirit Award.
Just a couple of days before the film’s portuguese premiere at FEST, José Pedro Lopes from c7nema.net interview Matthew and picked up some thoughts on Dynamiter’s low-cost production and its sucess.
How did the project for THE DYNAMITER came up?
It was my dream to film in Mississippi with a story about a young boy and his brother that would inspire the audience to believe in hope no matter the difficult circumstances that confrontthem. I hope that Robbie Hendrick is the character that achieves that- with his courage, strength and true nature.
This is a very personal story with a very close language. Is this based on experience?
It is a very personal story but it is not autobiographical. It has elements of my life for sure in many of the character ‘s actions and words but it is a creation for the cinema. It was my decision to allow the voice of the characters to be that true voice of the people of this region in the south region of the USA. They give the story its heart and soul – I was there to guide the story through to its completion to attempt to give it its subtle emotional power.
What filmmakers influenced you the most?
Casavettes, Malick , Antonioni, and documentary makers the Maysles brothers have been strong influences. I also very much love the films VIVRE SA VIE of Godard , LE FEU FOLLET of Malle, and STAND BY ME from Reiner.
Do you have any new projects?
Right now I am writing three different projects with three different collaborators- we will see what happens first! I am just trying to see what is best right now before diving in totally. The themes of hope and the strength of love’s bonds are still the main themes for me.
How was the casting process for THE DYNAMITER?
The casting process was very crazy! We used all non-actors so we met with 800 different people for all 35 roles for the film. The casting was totally open to all people who ever wanted to act so it took a long time . What it did allow for was the film to become a part of the true community from where it was born. Having non-actors from the region play all the roles is something that we very much knew was crucial to the emotional truth and power of the film. These people have great talent and do not even know it in many instances.
This movie was shot with only 250.000 dollars. How did you manage to make such a high-impact film with so little money?
Thank you for the comment- the key i think is having a very committed and talented crew and cast and team to work with. We are very lucky for this. We all worked together and really respected each other and allowed for an environment where it was OK to make mistakes as long as we were all trying our hardest to make the best work we could. I am most proud of this aspect of our teamwork and commitment.
Your film was a big sucess in festivals and in the indie film circuit. Do you expect this reaction? How was it to be nominated for the John Cassavetes Award at the Independent Spirit Awards?
The success we have had on the festival circuit and our Indy Spirit nominations have came as a total shock to me and the whole team I think! We just wanted to make a movie that was true to our vision and as emotionally honest as possible. We are so lucky and thankful for the experience. It is the dream to share our work with audiences like your selves in Portugal- that is why we do it!
What do you know of FEST and expect of THE DYNAMITER’s portuguese premiere?
I am so sad not to be able to attend the festival and visit Espinho with its beautiful seaside and open air markets. I know my wife , Marianne(who is also our producer) and I would love it there- and I feel the film will connect very well with the audience there , even more that it does in bigger , more urban cities. It is a dream for us to share the film with the hundreds of students that gather there from all over Europe- the world gets closer from these experiences. I cant wait to hear about how it goes!
THE DYNAMITER by Matthew Gordon is opening FEST INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL this Monday, July 2nd.