July is the 2nd month of The 5 Obstructions blogathon series :) This month challenge is to write a review of a film along with an interview. The interview itself can be to any other person, but i figure i should try interviewing someone who actually is involved in a film industry. A daunting task, really. Not only because I never interview anyone before, but I wonder if I can found anyone who’ll be willing to accept the interview from an obscure blog such as mine :). After a frustrating month of empty searches and failed attempts, from the aide of a personal friend, i manage to secure an interview with one of my personal favorite Indonesia’s up-and-coming filmmaker, the director behind Nyanyian Para Pejuang Sunyi (Song of The Silent Heroes, 2010) and Menunggu Warna (Waiting for Colors, 2012), which i have reviewed earlier.
Without further ado, let me introduce you to man!
Okay let’s start it off with a generic question, I’m sure that every director get asked this all the time. Do you have any directors (international or local) who inspire and aspire you as well as becoming an influence your works?
Jim Jarmusch, Takeshi Kitano, and Nan Triveni Achnas.
Do you think your personal style is heavily influenced by your favorite directors?
Every filmmakers must’ve had influence from the movies they have seen, especially the one they like. But when talking about personal style, i’d like to think it’s similar to how one choose what they wear. With so many variety of clothing reference out there, there’s bound to be one you like and dislike. The one you ended up wearing would be the one that you feel most comfortable with. I’m not really sure whether the choices can be explained, i think that’s just something instinctive.
A lot of international filmmakers are sharing their works YouTube and Vimeo. Either to share their works and short films or as a way to built their portfolios and putting it out there for the global filming industry to see. Whether it is done on their own or submitted it to a curated websites. What do you think about sharing your work through such media?
As a filmmaker it’s delightful to see our works reached broader audience, the more the merrier. Filmmakers always looking for ways to reach out to the audience so they have access to our works, video-sharing media enable us to do just that.
Okay, that being said, do you prefer your film to be seen by more people (as a high-concept, commercial feature) or do you prefer to kept your aesthetic and create pieces that only appeal for limited audience?
I think there’s a commercial aspect in every film, the difference is in the proportion itself. The challenge is to maintain our own vision when creating a film and simultaneously making it accessible and appealing for the mass audience to see.
In Song of the Silent Heroes, there were were 3-seconds blank screen within the film, and i noticed the blank screen occurs when Titi Sjuman character choosing the cups (in some gambling mode). I wonder what was the reason to do it like that?
The 3-seconds blanks were marking the transition between two non-linear alternate in the storyline.
I love the part when at the beginning of the film the music of Bengawan Solo fades out as the character took out the earphones from her ear. But what interest me the most is the choice of the music itself, why did you choose Bengawan Solo as the prominently featured music in Song of Silent Heroes?
The story behind Bengawan Solo music is quite lengthy. The film was made when I worked as a crew for Minggu Pagi di Victoria Park. So the deal is if there’s a break during the shooting and a idle camera, I could use it and some of the film stock to make a short film. On the days leading to the shooting break, I heard a Hong Kong version of Bengawan Solo (which was also used in one of Wong Kar Wai’s film In the Mood For Love ). When I heard the song I felt so nostalgic thinking of home. So I originally wanted to use the Hong Kong version but securing the rights was difficult. Instead, Aksan Sjuman rearranged the song and and Titi Sjuman sung the lyrics. Funny thing is, when I was in Tokyo last year I came across the Japanese version of the song when I was passing this small restaurant in the edge of the town. I stopped in front of the restaurant and waited until the song finish playing, it was beautiful.
Waiting for Colors (2012) the piece you made for Sanubari Jakarta anthology is filmed in Black and White. Is there any specific reason for that artistic choice?
When I wrote the story for the film I already visualized it to be in black and white. So you can say that I had the black and white image first and the story took shapes according to that.
I read from another interview that when Lola Amaria decided to made Sanubari Jakarta as an anthology, she was looking for several directors, but you actually volunteer yourself, is that true? If yes, what made you very passionate about the project?
That’s correct. Before giving the idea for Lola, I pitched it for Belkibolang (another Anthology film) but it didn’t follow through. So, when Lola was putting together Sanubari Jakarta project I pitched an idea for a segment, but the initial idea evolved later on and become Waiting for Colors. Sanubari Jakarta try to deliver an important theme through films, that’s why I feel compelled to the project.
I’ve only seen a couple of your short films, but Song of the Silent Heroes (2010) and Waiting For Colors (2012) really stood out for me. I see that both shared similar issue, which is an LGBT love story. Both are different, but very well made and strong pieces respectively. Is there any reason why you choose to made films with the issue and why you probably connect with the issue?
I’m always interested in with emotion that human feels. Initial thoughts to create a movie started from those feelings. For example in Waiting for Colors, I try to capture the feeling of the character, how he dream to be happy with his loved one, but it was hard to attain and can only be imagined. Those feelings are the manifestation of problems currently facing our local LGBT community, waiting to be accepted and finally be happy, yet. I think the sabotage to Q!FilmFest really broke my heart, so the idea for Waiting for Colours came from from those.
Other than the prominent LGBT Theme, both Waiting for Colors and Song of The Silent Heroes, have no dialogues. While it isn’t a silent movie, you definitely rely on gestures than spoken words as a way of story telling. Why do you choose not to have dialogue at all?
Dialogue is a personal issue for me. Even in real life i had problems with this. It’s harder for me to deliver message in a form of dialogue, even more so in writing (as in scripts or screenplays). Initially, there were dialogues in the screenplay of both short films. In the final drafts of Menunggu Warna, there’s a dialogue in the last scene. But when i shot the film, i feel it was not necessary, so i did not use it at the very end.
I think that proves the creative thoughts and instinct that Adriyanto Dewo uses when making his films are proven to be a sound decision, as proven by the accolades and recognition he gained from both national and international film festival. Thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview and i’m excited for your upcoming projects! (And still waiting for the home media release of Sanubari Jakarta!)
ADRIYANTO WASKITO DEWO. aka Adriyanto Dewo aka Adri Dewo. Born in Jakarta, 1983. Graduated from Jakarta Institute of Arts with Bachelor of Art Degree in Film Directing. Other than creating his own short films he also directs for television and music video. He also co-directed an upcoming Rockumentary of Pee Wee Gaskins: Road to Japan “Be Seen and Be Scene” with fellow director of Sanubari Jakarta Tika Pramesti. He has a couple of feature film projects in the future, including his own dream film Footprints in the Sand.
2012 Sanubari Jakarta (Jakarta Deep Down) segment: Menunggu Warna (Waiting for Colors)
2012 Hi5teria segment: Pasar Setan (Ghost Market)