From the onset, Ben and I wanted to make a film that was both classic and modern – one that looked toward the future while honoring the past. Our initial references were the nostalgic images of Woody Allen’s Manhattan, the deep focus compositions and immaculate lighting of Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, and the constantly evolving panning shots and mis en scene of Antonioni’s La Note. Because this film is set in the near future, we juxtaposed our influence from these timeless films with an innovative approach that suggested a more contemporary consciousness of current culture and the rapid progress of technology. We chose to shoot the film digitally to give the picture a clean, glossy, and sharp texture. To balance this, we used anamorphic lenses to give the picture a softer, more enveloping texture and feel. By using a combination of a dynamic camera mixed with static wide compositions, we aimed to shift between a more immersive and objectifying experience.
The goal was to confine the main character, David, within the seductive yet often overwhelming constructs of modern New York – a sophisticated world his generation created, but one it now must seek to navigate. By using deep focus, graphic compositions and wider, dynamic frames, we strove to use David’s environment to subjugate him. As the film progresses and David spirals into a manic state, we employed progressively longer lenses, more suffocating frames and shallower focus to express his drug-and-tech induced hysteria.
Ben had always wanted to shoot the film in black and white, and I supported the choice fully. In doing so, we sought to create a world that felt timeless and familiar, while simultaneously trapped in a surreal, consciously objective space. By setting these hyper-modern, ultra-serious conceits, we were able to find the humor in David’s egotistical, digitized vision quest.
There are so many incredible filmmakers pushing the boundaries of independent cinema, and I’m grateful to watch the community grow and honored to take part in it. Creative Control is just like all of these films – an original, honest idea turned into something real through the collaboration of a ton of wildly devoted, talented, and hard working friends. What may set us apart is our desire to embrace and even exaggerate a polished and almost commercial aesthetic, in hopes of finding the humor in our rapidly evolving digital culture. This film is a satire, and while the approach is rigorous and often very self-aware, we wanted people to find it funny.
Ben and I are very good friends and long time collaborators. We have collaborated on small films as well as larger commercials, and those experiences shaped us. We wanted to embrace and honor these weird, beautiful, and often hilarious moments of our careers. We trust one another and that empowered us to take risks and make strong choices for the film, which we hope ultimately pay off for the audience!