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|South By Southwest 2014 Interview – THE CASE OF THE THREE SIDED DREAM director Adam Kahan
by Jason Whyte
At SxSW 2014!
“This film is about Rahsaan Roland Kirk. He was a windmill slayer, a fighter who faced many obstacles in his life and overcame each of them. And if there weren’t enough obstacles in front of him, he’d create some just to knock them down. Rahsaan’s main legacy was music, and therefore this is a music documentary. But he also did so much more; he started a political movement, was outspoken on race and living with handicaps, and he was blind; though he wouldn’t call it a handicap, he’d just say “I don’t see too well”. At the height of his career, he suffered a massive stroke which left him half paralyzed. But that didn’t stop him. He got back up on stage, and continued to record and play music, rage and tour (with the use of only one hand until the day he died leaving a gig in Indiana in 1977. He was 42 years old.” Director Adam Kahan on THE CASE OF THE THREE SIDED dream which screens at the South By Southwest Film Festival.
[i[Is this your first SxSW/Austin experience and are you going to attend your screenings?
Yes and yes!
Tell me a bit about your background and how you became a filmmaker. Also what have you worked on in the past?
I guess you’d say I am a true film geek. Seen every Hitchcock, and Truffaut, and of course read that book cover to cover. Do people still do that? Seemed like the thing to do at the time. Orson Welles, John Huston, Cassavetes, Fellini, Kurosawa...the list goes on. But before all this, I was introduced to Super 8 film by sister’s friend Nick, who happened to be a postman. A Super 8 lovin’ postman. This was in San Francisco in 1989. That is where it started for me. We used to go to flea markets and garage sales and buy all sorts of cameras and projectors and films for cheap! I loved the tactile nature of film; the sprocket holes, splicing, finding and losing little bits of film, rickety projectors. The whole thing. Telling a story on that stuff was magic. I seem to have made the transition to video somehow, but I can’t imagine having gotten into this without film, real film.
I have worked on all sorts of things from experimental films, to arts docs, to commercial TV stuff. One of my first films was about a guy who loses one of his eyes in an accident, saves up and buys a new one, only to lose that in another accident. It pops out when he has a bike accident, at which time a dog strolls by and eats it up off the street. The protagonist does get it back in the end. I’ll leave it to your imagination).
How did this whole project come together from your perspective?
It was long! It came together with guts and determination. Like many films.
What was the biggest challenge, or challenges, in making the film?
Archives. Don’t work with them if you can help it! They cost an arm and a leg to license! Damn near killed me. I still owe!
If you had to pick a single favourite moment out of the entire production, what would it be?
I have met so many great people in the making of this film. Not a unique experience I’m sure, though the people sure were and are. Rahsaan’s producer Joel Dorn used to say, when referring to all the people from Rahsaan’s world, who knew him, loved him and spent time with him; “They’re a box of broken cookies.” I think he meant that lovingly. They certainly are that, but that is what makes them such interesting people. Really human, and fragile, and bold and strong and in some cases quite crazy. A loveable box of broken cookies, I’d say. And you’ll never get bored with this group. Both of Rahsaan’s wives were great to work with. Edith Kirk who passed away was a warm person and Dorthaan who will be with us at SXSW is a stellar individual. Then you had people like Rahn Burton, Rahsaan’s pianist, who was just one of the craziest mofos you’d ever meet, but in a good way! I did many interviews with him and after a while I think I was just doing them so I could hang out with him. He told so many stories, many of which I could not get into the film unfortunately; like the time Jimi Hendrix showed up at a gig and jammed with Rahsaan!
What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you? How much coffee?
Oh shit. Well coffee can keep me going non-stop for a week straight, but then I kind of wilt and need bed rest. Something definitely keeps me going that is for sure. You just get the bug. You have to make it. You have to finish. You have to keep going. I am just laying the groundwork for my next project now and its really got my adrenaline pumping. It s doing something beautiful and meaningful. We all need ways to bring beauty and meaning into our lives. Filmmaking is one of those ways.
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.
I had a swell director of photography. We shot on the RED camera. But the film was heavily based on archives and there are some quite spirited animation sequences that you should check out. I like a natural feeling with a DP. A DP needs to make it easy and not get hung up on lighting this and that for a million hours and not get in the way of momentum. My guy did that...Alex Baev. This was the first time we worked together, and in hindsight I’d do some things differently and direct him a little differently. And, because it was our first time working together we also didn’t have that natural instinct between one and other, that natural intuition, him knowing exactly what I want without asking. That kind of thing. Next time we will. He still made some beautiful pictures. But that is why I hired him!
What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie at SxSW?
Audience engagement. We make movies to be seen. Eyeballs looking at the screen. Hearts and minds being won over. Grabbing their attention and not letting go. It would also be swell to find a distributor. And lastly, I’m laying the ground work for a dramatic film on Rahsaan; I would love to find an Executive Producer or some industry fairy godmother or father who could help that become a reality.
After the film screens at South By Southwest, where is the film going to show next? Anywhere you would like it to screen?
Lots of irons in the fire. Nothing I can say right now, but it will screen in several festivals in multiple countries over the next year.
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?
For me it’s not what cinema, but to whom? I’d love to screen it for some great filmmakers, some for my idols who are still around. And some of the great jazz legends who are still around.
What would you say or do to someone who is talking or texting during a screening of your film?
Oh that could go so many ways. Anything from ignoring them to violence.
There are a lot of up and coming filmmakers both at SxSW and reading our site. What would you want to tell them if they are aspiring to become a filmmaker?
Again, stay away from making a film reliant on archives! Beyond that, story story story. And, you have to do it because you love it, and if you love it, all you need to do is make your film, and the next one and the next one. Maybe your film will be the next big thing, or maybe it will only play in your living room. That doesn’t matter as much. Just make your film!
And finally, what is the single, greatest movie that you have seen at a film festival?
Well, a few come to mind. Just swell films that I’ve seen. Wavumba (subtitled “They Who Smell of Fish”) is just a beautiful and sensitive film that makes no compromises. “Marwencol” is a beaut. And “How to Draw a Bunny” is nice one too. As far as a single greatest movie type of movie, for me, we’d have to go back several years, before I ever went to a film festival!
This is one of the many films screening at the 2014 SXSW in Austin, Texas between March 7-15. For more information on the film’s screening, point your browser to www.sxsw.com/film.
Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jasonrcwhyte
link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=3640
originally posted: 03/06/14 09:40:25
last updated: 03/06/14 09:52:19