Baris Azman / Filmmaker

7th Heaven

Posted in Interview, News by barisazman on April 3, 2009

nmo

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I was a guest on the radio at a program called ‘7th Heaven’ (De 7e Hemel) of the NMO (Nederlandse Moslim Omroep/ Dutch Muslim Broadcast) in Amsterdam, where I was one of four guests of emerging filmmakers. We were chosen because of our films that dealt with ‘social issues and topical matters’. Alongside me where filmmakers Beri Shalmashi, Bram Vergeer and Camiel Zwart. The host was Abdellah Dami, who asked us questions ranging from why we make films, to what our creative process is. All in all we talked for an hour, which seemed to fly by really fast.

You can listen to it here (program starts after the 02:42 min mark and is in Dutch).
More on 7th Heaven on their website.

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Archive: THE BEAUTIFUL WASHING MACHINE: James Lee interview

Posted in Interview by barisazman on March 21, 2009
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In 2005 I had the opportunity to conduct a few interviews with filmmakers who were presenting their first, second or third feature film at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. These were done for a magazine called YDN (Young Designers Network). This is the first of those I will reprint here.

MEI LI DE XI YI JI / THE BEAUTIFUL WASHING MACHINE (2005)

A film by James Lee

What happens when your washing machine breaks down? You get a new one. Only the lead character of THE BEAUTIFUL WASHING MACHINE, Teoh, a young guy with a simple job, after looking off into the distance for a long while, decides he’s gonna get that used one on discount, yeah that in the corner over there. After installing it at home he cleans his clothes and just goes about his regular business. But when the washing machine starts going off in the middle of the night by it’s own accord you know something’s up.
Only nothing can prepare you with what that is. One morning, there is a young woman next to the washing machine and Teoh just kind of goes with it and asks his mysterious new friend to do the washing of the clothes. When she doesn’t complain, Teoh decides he’s gonna let her do other choirs too. It isn’t before long that Teoh even starts pimping out his new friend. The mysterious woman never speaks and silently goes along with everything.

beaut-wash-machine1People have mentioned that the film has a certain Buster Keaton comedy vibe to it, while Bunuel wouldn’t be misplaced either. Scenes tend to last several minutes and sometimes even in the same shot. You try and predict how a certain scene will end, but more often you’re just flabbergasted and in stitches at what Lee just comes up with for his characters to do. Teoh is the ultimate slacker and the ultimate asshole to boot. He misuses his new friend to the extreme and rarely regrets anything. When a pimpdeal goes wrong he loses his mysterious friend and she ends up in someone else’s car. This ends up being a rather caring father who takes her in and in no time gets used to the fact that she does all the cleaning. The man’s daughter has of course her doubts about what this new ladyfriend of his father’s motives actually are.

James Lee’s ultra low budget digital film is something of a gem. With so many digital films playing at festivals, it’s hard coming across one that actually makes you forget you’re watching a ‘videofilm’. The attention to the framing is something that most digital filmmakers can learn from. It’s beautiful use of space and mise-en-scene is something that elevates the whole look of the film. Usually digital filmmakers just run around with the camera and point it in eachother’s face. Hoping to get some sense of direct contact with the viewer. While in some cases this might work, the audience is usually just left numb and overdosed on immeadiacy. THE BEAUTIFUL WASHING MACHINE is the perfect example of good films that are shot on no budgets with (partially) unprofessional actors. You just need the creativity (and digital video creates that independent freedom) and some friends and time, maybe even spruce up some money and you could make a quality film.

Interview with James Lee

Baris Azman: Being a starting filmmaker myself, I was wondering about the more productional side of the film. What was the budget and how long was the shooting schedule of the film?

James Lee: It was close to 50,000 US dollars and a ten day shoot. Pre-production was about two months and the post was the longest.

(more…)

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