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Vancouver International Film Festival 2010 Interview – “Littlerock” director Mike Ott

Littlerock - At VIFF 2010
by Jason Whyte

“When her car breaks down on a site-seeing tour of California, a Japanese student winds up stranded in a small desert town. Exhilarated by a sudden sense of freedom, she extends her stay and finds friendship, romance, and what promises to be a new home. But as she pulls back the layers on this unlikely paradise, she discovers a different America than the one in her dreams.” Director Mike Ott on the film “Littlerock” which screens at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival.

Is this your first film in the VIFF? Do you have any other festival experience? Do you plan to attend Vancouver for the screenings?

Yes, first time having a film at VIFF. My thesis film played around at festivals in the US and abroad. I do plan to attend Vancouver for the screenings.

Could you give me a little look into your background and what led you to the desire to want to make film?

I studied at Cal Arts under Thom Andersen where I received my masters in Film/Video. Directing was the only thing I ever tried that seemed to come naturally.

Growing up, you were no doubt asked the eternal question “When I grow up I want to be a …”

“….person who doesn’t work a nine to five.”

How did this project come to fruition? If you could, please provide me with a rundown, start to finish, from your involvement.

Went out a few years ago and made a test short of the film, experimenting with style and performance. Then, got a small crew together and we went and lived out in the desert for about a month and made the feature.

What was the biggest challenge in the production of the movie, be it principal photography or post-production? What was your favourite moment of the process?

Biggest challenge was the day we did a party scene and I got all the extras drunk so they were relaxed for the scene. But they all got completely trashed and it was utter chaos to try and maintain. My favourite moment was watching Atsuko’s performance live when we shot the last scene of the film.

Tell me about the technical side of the film; your relation to the film’s cinematographer, what the film was shot on and why it was decided to be photographed this way.

We shot on HD, the EX3. The cinematographer and I had worked together before so we had a very fluid relationship on how things were to be shot and captured. We have a similar aesthetic.

Talk a bit about the experiences that you have had with the film. Have you had any interesting audience stories or questions that have arisen at screenings?

Most audiences are obsessed with Cory and the blurred parts of his character that straddle the line between fiction and non-fiction.

Who would you say your biggest inspirations are in the film world? Did you have inspirations from filmmakers for this film in particular?

Werner Herzog’s “Stroszek” was the main inspiration. We based a lot of ideas from that film as well as Herzog’s approach to making it.

If you weren’t in this profession, what other career do you think you would be interested in?

A graphic designer

Please tell me some filmmakers or talent that you would love to work with, even if money was no object.

Michael Pitt, Jean-Pierre Leaud, Thomas Turgoose and any of the cast members from the film “This is England.”

How important do you think the critical/media response is to film these days, be it a large production, independent film or festival title?

I think it’s extremely important, especially for an independent film.

If your film could play in any movie theatre in the world, which one would you choose?

The theatre in France where they shot “Antoine and Colette.”

No doubt there are a lot of aspiring filmmakers at film festivals who are out there curious about making a film of their own. Do you have any advice that you could provide for those looking to get a start, and especially for those with films in the festival circuit?

The world is not conducive to making art. So don’t wait around, if you want to make a film you just have to go out and do it.

And finally…what is your all time favourite motion picture, and why?

That’s too tough. But I’ll say lately my favourite film is “American Movie” by Chris Smith. It has all the qualities I think a great film should have: humour, heartbreak, inspiration, quotable lines, earnestness… and an ending that always makes me cry.

This is one of the official selections in this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival lineup. For more information on films screening at this year’s fest, showtimes, updates and other general info, point your browser to

Be sure to follow instant happenings of VIFF ’10 on my Twitter account @jasonwhyte, including mini-reviews of films, comments on festival action and even a Tweetphoto or two. #viff10 is the official hashtag.

Jason Whyte,

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originally posted: 10/08/10 11:18:55
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