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Director, Vincenzo Natali - Cube
by Dov Kornits

30 year old Canadian filmmaker Vincenzo Natali gives us the lowdown on making his first feature Cube, a micro budget, yet slick sci-fi nightmare about being stuck in a maze with only prime numbers pointing the way out. Or are they?


1. The budget I'm going to give you is kind of deceptive because we received so much support, deferrals and donations, and it cost $350 thousand. Plus all the special effects were donated. The local film industry in Toronto is a very nurturing environment for emerging filmmakers and we certainly benefited.

2. In Canada people tend to look down on genre. But you know, I've always been a huge fan of science fiction films. I think it can make for a very sophisticated film. There is a prejudice because the Canadian film industry is largely Government subsidised and the idea of spending taxpayers money on a sci-fi movie makes you feel frivolous. But certainly Mr Cronenberg has made it easier.

3. Physically and technically it was very demanding because we didn't have much money or time. Every day there was some monumental catastrophe that had to be solved. It's ironic because you think that making a movie in one room with six people would be relatively simple. But it really was like a Chinese puzzle and once you scratched the surface you realised there were a million tiny details that had to be addressed. And being a science fiction film, we couldn't make it like Clerks. It had to have a level of technical proficiency and the environment had to have a level of believability, otherwise the whole conceit of this thing would have failed.

4. If you think about it, the basic idea is that these people are supposed to be trapped in a maze with thousands of rooms. But the whole movie was shot on one set. Every day we went back to the same place and yet the actors had to make us believe that they were in this vast structure. And they had to act on what was the equivalent of a bare stage. There were no props or nothing to hide behind. Their performances are really naked. I have the highest respect for actors after this film.

5. I really admire the way David Lynch uses sound. The way he uses sound in a very expressionistic and sometimes subtle way. Really one of the great pleasures of making Cube was inventing the aural part of the world. It's great today, because you used to have to cut sound on magnetic film which is very unwieldy and painful. Now you can do it digitally which makes it quick and you can experiment and try to mix different sounds. We put all sorts of bizarre sounds into this Cube world. Frequently they would be hybrid sounds, like Tibetan monks chanting, mixed with birds, mixed with elephants. When you marry them together it makes interesting sounds.

6. I come from that generation which was blown away by Star Wars. I was eight years old when it came out and I was primed for it. It was that pure cinematic experience. I'm looking forward to The Phantom Menace. I don't think you can replicate the original Star Wars experience because it was unexpected. It kind of came out of nowhere. Whereas The Phantom Menace is probably the most anticipated film of the last decade. Actually, Lucas' THX 1138 was a huge influence on Cube. What I love about THX is that it's so abstract. Where Cube is different to THX is that I followed a very linear and fairly traditional story of survival. ---Dov Kornits

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originally posted: 05/08/99 22:45:46
last updated: 05/19/99 15:31:23
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