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Whistler Film Festival Interview – “Everything Louder Than Everything Else” director Rob Leichtner

Everything Louder Than Everything Else - At Whistler Film Festival
by Jason Whyte

“Everything Louder Than Everything Else is a movie about the daily challenges that people who work in recording studios encounter. When a musician tries to describe what they want their music to sound like they often struggle to find the right words. The title of the movie is a statement often heard by recording engineers which is impossible to implement. Still, they spend their lives trying. I also feel many people try to live their lives like that. So it’s not just about the recording world.” Director Rob Leichtner on the film “Everything Louder Than Everything Else” which screens at this year’s Whistler Film Festival. (December 1-5th)

Is this your first film in the Whistler Film Festival? (Or the first film you have) Do you have any other festival experience? Do you plan to attend the Whistler for the screening?

This is my first film at Whistler or any festival for that matter. I made a documentary about the band Ladyhawk with Mona Mok (Cinematographer, Producer and co-editor of the film) a few years ago but it didn’t screen at any festivals. I attended Whistler a few years ago when I was pitching a documentary which was a great experience and I always wanted to go back. I will be attending this year’s festival along with most of the cast and crew.

Could you give me a little look into your background (your own personal biography, if you will), and what led you to the desire to want to make film?

I grew up in Alberta (Edmonton and Lethbridge). At a young age I was always trying to create things. I would act out Star Trek episodes with my friends and record them on cassette and my sister and I would perform magic shows for the neighbourhood. I hated school and I spent most of my time socializing and being the class clown. When I was 21, I went to recording school in LA and when I came back I decided I could no longer live in Edmonton. Not being able to get a Visa to live in the US, I had to find some place in Canada that was right for me: both climate and culture wise. I had some friends who moved to Vancouver earlier that year so I moved there sight unseen and I’ve been here ever since. I started running marathons soon after I moved to Vancouver. That taught me a lot about perseverance and gave me a lot of confidence in my abilities. It showed me I could do anything if I just took it a little bit at a time. I started in the entertainment business as the co-founder of the Hive Recording Studios. We started it back in 1996 as a basement studio and now it’s grown into a 3000 square foot complex that records world class bands on a daily basis. As much as I love music I didn’t really like recording other people’s music. In 2003, I started taking a night course in film studies and soon after made my first short film. For my first narrative feature I took a page from the Robert Rodriguez handbook. I decided to make a film about something I had access to… and that was the studio. I was just bought out by my studio partner in April as I wanted to pursue filmmaking full time. When DVDs came out I would devour the commentary tracks. I never thought I could make a film but I loved them so much that eventually I had to try. I could not sit by and be just a fan. I think that happens with a lot of people. They become so hugely obsessed with some art form that they have to dive in and at least give it a try. After making a lot of short films I realized my medium was feature length films.

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

I refuse to grow up.

How did this project come to fruition?

I was at the TIFF 2008 as an actor in the film When Life Was Good. Seeing my good friend, Terry Miles (“When Life Was Good”), have one of the best experiences of his life was so inspiring. I thought “I can do this”. So in my post-festival buzz, I thought what type of story can I tell? I have always been into depressing ambiguous Bergmanesque dramas but at the same time my friends always told me comedy is what I’m best at. That’s when the idea came to me. Why don’t I take all those crazy experiences working at the Hive recording studio and turn them into a feature length film? Originally, I wanted to do it as a web series but the level of talent I was working with demanded an upgrade to a feature length film. Also, I wanted to use a guided improvisation technique for this film. I felt that if I’m working with mostly non-actors, that would be the best way to get natural performances out of them. Of course I had no money so everyone volunteered their time and the crew was just Mona Mok and I. The first day of shooting, actor Steve Hubert showed up and just nailed the part. Later, I learned he was going to tell me that day he couldn’t be a part of the production. He had such a good time that he kept coming back, eventually postponing his move to Kelowna to film some pick-ups. The whole production took about 14 months to complete.

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

The biggest challenge was getting into our main set: The Hive Recording Studio. The reason it took 14 months to film the movie was that we could only get in there from 8am till Noon on most days. Scheduling was difficult as well. When you can’t pay people they have to be committed to the idea. Thankfully, the actors really liked what they were doing and made a lot of sacrifices to make this happen.

Please 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 the film using 2 Canon HV20s (90% of the film) and near the end of production I bought a Panasonic GH1 DSLR and shot a few scenes with that. We wanted to shoot in a documentary style. Mona was the cinematographer, she would set up the shots and I would sometimes operate second camera. We shot with these cameras because they were the cheapest HD cameras that could shoot in 24p mode. The HV20 only cost about $800 and the GH1 around $1500. I really like the look of the film, it has a rough immediacy. The form definitely matches the content and that is what’s most important.

Who would you say your biggest inspirations are in the film world (directors, actors, cinematographers, etc)? Did you have any direct inspirations from filmmakers for this film in particular?

My main inspirations for this movie were Richard Linklater’s Slacker and Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan. I wanted to make a film that captured a subculture like those two films did. They are both very talky movies that have a particular rhythm. Of course Slacker is more experimental than my film but the tone is what I was going for. As far as more general influences: Robert Altman, David Lynch, Gus Van Sant, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Tsai Min- Liang, Andrea Arnold, Lynne Ramsay, Louis Malle, Woody Allen, Sophia Coppola, Yasujiro Ozu, Ingmar Bergman, Lukas Moodysson, Michael Hanke. Most of my influences are foreign and it has always been my goal to make films like that and get away from the Hollywood model.

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

Actors I would love to work with: Ryan Gosling, Samantha Morton, Asano Tadanobu, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Isabelle Huppert, Charlotte Gainsbourg. Cinematographers: Ellen Kuras, Benoit Debie, Lance Acord

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’ve always wanted to be appreciated by my peers. I consider critics and film fanatics and festival programmers as my peers, so if those people like my films, I am content. I only make films for myself and my small circle of friends, if the rest of the world responds then so be it. I will be making films until I’m 100 so public opinion really doesn’t matter. Making films is the only reason I was put on this earth.

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

I haven’t travelled enough to answer this question sufficiently. I’d have to say the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas. A place where you can drink beer and watch a movie, sign me up.

What would you say or do to someone who talks or uses their cell phone during a movie?

Something I can’t write here. That really makes me angry.

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?

The hardest thing I've found is not the small details but being able to hold all the parts of the film in your mind and being content that you've satisfactorily assembled them. ONLY you as the director are required to be emotionally content with the entity you've created. Make it for yourself and forget what the focus groups/well wishers/friends of the family/film school acquaintances think. It's always someone's insignificant other who has a problem with some innocuous pan or wardrobe choice.

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

This answer is always changing but right now it is Mystery Train by Jim Jarmusch. The first time I saw this movie was on VHS back in 1990. I rented it and watched it 3 times in a 24 hour period. I recently bought the new Criterion Blu ray and after seeing it, I was transformed again. I love that the story was informed by music and geography not just a series of clever plot developments. It showed me there are other ways to make films. It was inspiring yet attainable. At that moment, an emptiness developed in me, that could only be filled by creativity. For that I love and loathe Jim Jamusch.

”Everything Louder Than Everything Else” screens on Thursday, December 2nd, 9:15 at Whistler Village Cinemas.

This is one of the many films playing at this year’s Whistler Film Festival. For show information, tickets and for other general information on films and events, point your browser to the official website HERE

Be sure to follow instant happenings of Whistler Film Festival on my Twitter account @jasonwhyte, including mini-reviews of films, comments on festival action and even a Tweetphoto or two. #whisfilmfest or @whisfilmfest are the official hashtags.

Jason Whyte,

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originally posted: 12/03/10 04:05:02
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