Can you talk about the influence film has had on your writing?
A lot of my writing is me trying to translate aspects of film to my work. Various shots, sounds, atmosphere. Using film as a basis, rather than say using reality as a basis, or other books as a basis, means starting with another artist’s aestheticized version of the world. What I see in my mind when writing then is framed, lighted, shot, so on, like certain scenes or moments from films I admire. Then I try to translate it. The silences, black and white faces, gusting wind of Antonioni or Kurosawa, for instance.
The impossibility of it is sometimes frustrating, almost painfully so. But the impossibility of it is also why I allow myself to do it—the failed translation allows it become something closer to my own.
What directors, film movements, or particular actors have been an influence?
Filmmakers who are particularly good at sliding between reality and dream have shaped my writing: Wong Kar-wai, Carl TH Dreyer, Ingmar Bergman, David Lynch, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Andrei Tarkovsky, Werner Herzog, Paul Thomas Anderson. There are others I’m leaving out, but those have been the big ones over the years.
Are there films that are reliable for inspiring your creativity?
I don’t think so. I wish I could count on tapping into something whenever I need a burst. But I need things to happen more organically, more surprisingly. I can’t impose upon a film in that way or impose upon my process in that way. It has to emerge.
Have you ever made a film? If so, has the process of doing that had an influence on your writing?
I have not. For a long while I wanted to, really wanted to, because film seemed to embody more closely what I wanted to achieve in writing. At one time I think I could have done it. My brain now works so differently than it used to. I’m not sure if it’s aging or what. It takes me so long to muddle through. Things don’t occur to me like they used to. I can’t see them as clearly. It takes me so long to get anywhere. I have to fail, fail, fail, fail before something takes hold. There’s no vision, no certainty, no direction.
Can you give some film recommendations for those who have liked your writing?
I’ll give a list of some films that I admire that I haven’t mentioned. Mostly recent favorites. Most anything else by these directors would work as well.
Zama (Martel), High Life (Denis), Personal Shopper (Assayas), Decasia (Morrison), The Wolf House (Leon and Cocina), Horse Money (Costa), The White Ribbon (Haneke), The Favourite (Lanthimos), The Lighthouse (Eggers)