5 Questions with “Maladies” Director Carter
We had the opportunity to reach out to Carter, the director of the SXSW Visions feature “Maladies“, and interview him regarding his work and the film:
1. Where did the idea for the voice over (voice in James’ head) come from?
It came from my head. I’m very interested in performance. Early on in my career I made a series of videos over a number of years that utilized a dummy. A life-size figure that I would use as an ‘actor’ in small videos and super8 films. I used various types of dialogue and recordings to illustrate the speaking or thoughts of the dummy in the films. The multiple voice overs – and use of the ear-piece with James and I in the film came from that work I did years ago with the dummy as opposed to real people.
2. The piece is obviously set in the winter of 1978, any particular reason, other than the ubiquity of pay phones for James to use for comfort?
It’s actually set in 1963 or somewhere thereabouts. However there are references to other time-frames in the film, for instance; when Catherine and Patricia are watching the coverage of the Jim Jones / People’s Temple massacre unfold on television, that occurred in 1978. I enjoyed having the film have these ‘time shifts’ and not be committed to a certain decade, even though the ‘look’ of the film is the early 60′s. Catherine’s life as a closeted cross-dresser needed to be set in that time frame as well for it to work. The homosexual closet in the 50′s, 60′s, 70′s is of interest to me as illustrated via Catherine, and in particular – her encounter with Alan Cumming in the diner scene. David Strathairn’s character as well faces some of the same struggles as Catherine.
3. What, if any, unique challenges did you face during filming?
We had a very tight schedule in which to shoot a lot of scenes. We also had a blizzard with a few days left of shooting.
4. Did you produce any of the art seen in the film?
I produced most of it, paintings and sculptures. I also hired two other artists, Nancy Ford and Dan Spencer, who’s work I like – to create pieces for the sets. It was important for me to have actual art in the sets with the actual performers.
5. What message do you want people to take away from the film?
There’s no message. However the film illustrates the lives of a few forward thinking characters in a less open time.
In “Maladies”, an idiosyncratic drama from the internationally acclaimed painter, sculptor and filmmaker, Carter, Academy Award®-nominee James Franco stars as James, a former actor who along with his sister Patricia (Fallon Goodson) retreats to the home of his best friend, the artist Catherine (Catherine Keener). Here, James’s grasp on reality remains tenuous at best as he attempts to redefine himself creatively through his new passion, writing. Through Catherine’s care, kindred eccentricities and friendship – along with the creative sanctuary her seaside home provides – we chart the fragments of James’s struggle with reality and the everyday conflicts with those who matter to him most.
Wednesday, March 13 @ 4:15PM at the Stateside Theatre
Friday, March 15 @ 11:30AM at the Alamo Ritz 2