IT WAS TRUE PUNKROCK!
Alec Empire interviews London filmmaker and musician Zan Lyons
Alec: „I think most of our readers might only be aware of your music, but you
have been almost more active in making films in the last years. Could you
please give them a brief introduction to your work…“
„When I started making music the thing that excited me most was that I could do it all at home with just a sampler and computer. It was true punk rock. I’d have an idea turn on my machines and Jam.
I wanted to bring the same energy to films and then combine it with my sound!
All my films are shot, lit and edited by my me on my laptop. I also do all of the visual effects and post production. This means I can take my camera, shoot something and start trying ideas immediately.
It’s a powerful and liberating experience!“
Alec:“ Many people say that video games will replace film one day. Do you agree?
Can video games ever achieve the same effect that films can?
Does it even make sense to put both in relation to each other?“
„From an industry standpoint video games have already replaced film. Even in our current economic climate video game sales keep growing while film sales are shrinking. I think the reason is a simple one. Value.
Even though games are significantly more expensive than films the experience is much more involved. What happens on the screen is happening to you, not a character you passively empathize with. Film distributors need to start giving audiences more with their DVDs. The same lack of value destroyed music – even though the industry blames downloads. When you buy a game you are buying something that will absorb you for days – even months.
From a personal perspective, nothing will ever replace the magic of cinema and although Games offer a truly interactive form of entertainment, they are not yet able to compete with film in terms of story. Games like Metal Gear Solid and the Final Fantasy series have scratched the surface. I think we’ll start to see the two worlds collaborating in the near future. Brilliant storytelling not better graphics will really take gaming to the next level.“
Alec: „How influential is Asian film right now? It seems that Hollywood steals
more ideas from there than from anywhere else…“
„Asia is without a doubt leading the world of cinema. Films like ‚The Ring‘ and ‚Oldboy‘ have completely changed films and have left Hollywood playing catchup. South East Asia always gets mentioned but India is also producing thought-provoking dramas as well as the colorful entertainment of Bollywood. Also a lot of people don’t realize that Bollywood is the biggest film industry in the world with Hollywood coming second place.
People working in Asia really know their craft and as a result, they make better films for much, much less money than Hollywood. Australian cinematographer Christopher Doyle has worked most of his life in South East Asia. He’s easily the greatest cinematographer working today but I doubt he would have reached this point if been swallowed up by Hollywood or even Europe.
Asian cinema keeps getting better and better and I think it will play a much greater role in years to come.“
Alec: „How important is authenticity or realism for you as a director ? Do they
both even matter?“
„My films have lot’s of small details so realism is very important. I always use lighting to create a film’s atmosphere because it’s means the image comes to life in front of me and I can react to it. All of my effects are very simple and usually involve more camera work than computer effects. I want people to believe what’s on the screen.“
Alec: „Can you recommend 3 films to our readers? And explain why they should
„The first is ‚In the Mood for Love‚. The way color and music are used to create atmosphere is amazing. It manages to feel like a classic 1960’s film and a modern one at the same time.
The second is ‚THX1138‚. I think this is one of the greatest science fiction films ever made. It has a sense of claustrophobia that I don’t think I’ve experienced since. There’s an impending doom from start to finish and it’s themes of government control feel more relevant today than ever before.
The final film is ‚Who Framed Roger Rabbit‚. It’s a perfect example brilliant family cinema. Children will love the cute charater animation and adults will enjoy all of the film noir references. Most importantly though, it’s 90 minutes of pure mind-bending fun!“
Alec: „Has technology left human imagination behind? Anything can be created
with the help of computers these days, but still most films out there lack
ideas? Why do you think that is?“
„Technology can be great when used well but too many people seem to use it to make short cuts and cover over weak ideas. Films like Star Wars and 2001 were at the cutting edge when they were released but the initial ideas were good in the first place so the effects were just enhancements. I think we need to return to this way of thinking and use new technology as a creative tool.“
Alec: „Or is the problem rooted in our society, in which everything , even art
itself, has to serve only one goal: profit making?“
„When Hollywood gets it right the results can be amazing. but unfortunately money often gets in the way. There are too many people who see film making purely in financial terms and they are usually the reason for bad films.
I think this will change though. Audiences aren’t stupid, if a film isn’t good people can just download it!“
Alec: „Are you thinking of doing a full length film one day?“
„My new album will be a collection of 9 songs with a short film for each one. It will flow together running at about 45 minutes so it’s actually a full-length film.
You’ll be able to either watch it as a complete film or select individual chapters – or just listen to the music. Each viewer will experience it differently.
The music is all instrumental and the films have no dialogue. The sounds and images are heavily synchronized – I wanted to create a world that people get can lost in.
I also have two story-based feature films that I plan on making at some point. I can’t say too much at the moment but they’ll be made in a similar way to my shorts.“
Alec: „You did visual remixes of some scenes of Blade Runner. How did the
audience react to that? This film is often seen as the masterpiece that
nobody is allowed to touch…“
„There was a strong reaction to it here in the UK for that exact reason. Audiences loved it though! When it began they thought it was just a live soundtrack but quickly discovered I’d re-edited the film as well. I used heavy synchronization between my own music and various scenes. I remember BBC Radio interviewing me asking if I was trying to make Blade Runner better! I was never trying to improve the film – that would be impossible. It was more like my own version. I had some clips on youtube but was asked to take them down by Warner Brothers:)“
Alec: „Do you think that most film scores push the audience far enough?„
„Not at all. The last good film score I heard was ‚There Will be Blood‘ It created an almost unbearable tension throughout the whole film.
Otherwise Most film scores sound either made-to-order or like a cynical way to promote a bands music.
Film scores are in real need of a a change!“
Alec: „Where do you think films will be at in 10 years? The same stories told with
„I think a revolution is coming! There will, of course be the same old money-making films but I think Digital Technology has put film making in the hands of everyone so I hope we’ll start to see new visions and different methods of storytelling.
There will definitely be less money to make films so people will have rely on ideas instead of funding to make good work. We’re already seeing this with people like Warp Films and Philip Virus.
I think we’ll also start seeing more films that take advantage of the internet rather than treating it as an enemy. Maybe interactive films where the viewer has a say in what happens next.
Like I said, tools that used to be exclusive to Hollywood are now in the hands of everybody. In ten years we’re going to see more films made faster, cheaper and for the RIGHT reasons!“
check out Zan’s films and infos here: