Here is my interview with Jeffrey Goodman, the director of The Last Lullaby, a modern Pulp/Noir movie which captured my attention recently. I could tell from the first ten minutes that I was watching the work of a smart director with a fresh approach to the genre. I recommend the movie, available to stream on Netflix. I also advise anyone who loves movies to check out Goodman’s blog.
Thanks to Jeffrey for taking to the time to answer these questions. I will continue this series of interviews with directors.
1. Did you draw upon books and movies in the Noir/Pulp genre during the writing and making of The Last Lullaby? What were your inspirations beyond Collins’ original work?
I probably drew most from other movies, noir films, as well as some other stuff. I’m a pretty big cinephile, and noir is one of my favorite of all the genres. Major cinematic influences for LULLABY were The French Connection, Heat, All the Real Girls, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, Hana-bi, Mulholland Dr, and Straight Time.
2. Are you interested in working more in the Noir/Pulp genre? Which other genres would you most like to explore?
I’d definitely like to make more films in the genre. I think it’s a fairly loosely defined genre, and one that has really seen extraordinary stylistic work, things like Shoot the Piano Player, The Conformist, Army of Shadows, Touch of Evil. Shoot, you could probably even make an argument for Bresson’s Pickpocket as a noir.
Other things I’d like to do are a road movie, a heist film, a sports film, and just a straight character piece, in the style of some of my favorite American and European films.
3. Tom Sizemore’s performance is very quiet, subtle and in tone with the pulp material. How did you collaborate as actor and director to achieve this?
Thank you so much. I have to give most, if not all, of the credit to Tom. He truly is an extraordinary actor. We talked a great deal, and I attempted to articulate that I wanted to make a fairly contemplative and quiet noir. He then knew how to jump into that register and explore it in rich, subtle ways.
4. Can you describe how you work with actors?
I try to work differently with each actor, depending on our rapport and his or her personality. On LULLABY, I tried a couple of things. I tried to give the actors a lot of space and freedom. I really only adjusted, rather than directed. I also tried to pull in some of each actor’s real life quirks and personality traits. If possible, I thought it would add well to all the “natural” stuff we were already doing with the wardrobe, make-up, locations, and lighting.
5. As an independent director, how do you work around and/or with your limitations?
Probably the way I attempt to combat it the most is simply through preparation. Good preparation obviously allows for faster filmmaking, and faster filmmaking is where you can probably save the most money. And with limitations, I also try and allow them to force me to focus, rather than look at them as some burden that I have to suffer.
6. How do you use the internet to your advantage? What possibilities do you think the web provides for current filmmakers?
I’ve really tried to embrace the internet. I blog regularly (http://cahierspositif.blogspot.com/). I also am on Facebook and Twitter a great deal. The internet really allows filmmakers to build an audience and connect with people in a way that was impossible beforehand. I think it is vital for anyone today starting a career as a independent filmmaker to have a real, active internet presence.
7. What do you feel is the current state and future of American cinema?
I’m a little concerned, to be honest. Hollywood is moving more and more into catering for an extremely young audience. Meanwhile, the independent sector is being squeezed financially in a way that I don’t feel is terribly encouraging. Unfortunately, in America, we have don’t have government financing really for filmmakers. So many of the major, young artists in American cinema right now are being forced into micro-budget filmmaking. I’d love to see them working with the type of budgets ($1-3M) that many of the great, young European or Asian filmmakers are able to cobble together through government funds, etc. Without either Hollywood changing in the future to accommodate a more sophisticated audience or independent filmmakers being able to put together larger budgets, I fear a real decline in the future of intelligent, American cinema.