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South By Southwest Film Interview – MALADIES director Carter

by Jason Whyte

“Maladies is a film about James and Catherine, two artists trying to maintain creative and productive lives as they are distracted by forces both real and self-imposed. James, a retired actor deals with the shift from being a public figure to private citizen and now, writer. Catherine, his close friend and ally protects and guides him as she navigates her own issues; the closet and sexual identity in the early 60's. Patricia, his sister acts as a satellite floating around the two amplifying the Maladies that hover betwixt them.” Director Carter on MALADIES which screens at this year's South By Southwest Film.

Is this your first SxSW/Austin experience?


Tell me a bit about your background and how you became a filmmaker. Also would love to hear about anything else you have made in the past!

I'm a visual artist...painting, sculpture, photography...who has always created moving images as part of my work; video, Super-8 films. I became a 'filmmaker' primarily through the connection to my visual art, the only difference is paintings are static images and film are moving image, and then from there the audience is different; a gallery audience versus a movie theater audience.

What was the biggest challenge, or challenges, in making the film?

There were many challenges, most of which were met and conquered. The first challenge was the actual writing of the film; starting with poetry, stacks of images, lists of influences and thoughts and building those up and sculpting them into a feature film is a long, and intense process. It takes a lot of simple discipline, which at times can be hard to come by.

What was your single favorite moment out of the entire production?

Moment? Many come to mind but one in particular was when I wrote lines for James' character and fed them to him using a hidden ear-piece, lines he was unfamiliar with until the scenes were actually shot. Via hidden microphone, he was given lines by me into his ear. It was a shared experience that was both very private and ultimately hyper-public at the same time. It was a way to get a performance that was by it's very nature, fresh and ultra-real.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?

The schedule! What drives me is knowing that the finished product will exist in the world and once that happens, it can never be erased.

I would love to know about the technical side of the film, your relationship to the director of photography, what the movie was shot on and why it was decided to be filmed this way.

My DP was Douglas Chamberlain. Doug is super talented and a good friend. What I remember most about the production of the film on the set was that he never, ever said 'no' to me. If I suggested a particular shot that may have been difficult to pull off, or to set up and get finished in our very tight schedule, Doug's reply was always 'yes'. After he said yes, he would then figure out a way to get the shot done. He also got shots I wouldn't have thought of and that I appreciated once I started editing. I learned a lot from him.

How has the film been received at other screenings? Any fun stories or comments from Q&A sessions?

The film premiered at the Berlinale a couple weeks ago. It screened five times to sold out audiences. 

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

If a review is thoughtful and/or at lest descriptive, it is useful in that it encourages others to go and see the film. When I go and see films, I often remember parts and pieces - bits of dialogue or situations that remain with me. If a film can do that, it is successful and memorable. I used many bits and pieces that have stayed with me from other films when I was thinking about and writing Maladies; other films influencing and building new films is a great space to be working within.

Alamo Drafthouse and Paramount theaters in Austin aside, if you could show this movie in any cinema in the world, which one would you choose and why?

The Castro theater in San Francisco, because of the history of the Castro theater and for it's location in a gay neighborhood. It also has an organ player that performs before each film screening. Either the Castro theater or some old movie house in the middle of the US, on some desperate, lonely, forgotten Main Street in a tiny town that still possesses it's original, dusty red or blue velvet curtain hanging on it's tiny stage. At the screening I imagine five or ten locals showing up and seeing the film and having a scene or two make an impression on them. Or better still, having the film screen at that same movie house, with no audience, just an empty theater with these wonderful sets and performances rolling across the screen, but with no one watching it.

What would you say or do to someone who is talking or texting during a screening of your film?

It depends on what they were talking or texting about. 

There are a lot of up and coming filmmakers both at SxSW and reading our site. I was curious if you had any advice to aspiring filmmakers?

Well I would say to anyone that is working on anything creative, wether it's film or writing or painting or anything where you have to rely on yourself to produce something from scratch; keep doing it, it's valid and important. 

This is one of the many films screening at the 2013 SXSW in Austin, Texas between March 8-16. For more information on the film’s screening, point your browser to

Jason Whyte,
Twitter: @jasonwhyte Facebook: jasonwhyte

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originally posted: 03/06/13 05:53:08
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