My very dear audience, internet surfers, casual passer-bys of the digital arena, please, welcome! Welcome on this very special day, 2nd of March 2016, which should be praised by all cinema lovers and also the ones who love all kinds of hybridations. The live action cinema was given its best 2015 release with Star Wars Epidose VII. The digital Found footage cinema got its very own: Hell’ club, episode II!
It won’t appear on the official box office and I am perhaps the only one to say it. However, you only need to be able to read and count to realize that the first episode has been the most watched french movie all around the world last year! More than 13 millions internet users have watched it all around the world. It was even mentioned on wide audience press release such as Time or USA Today.
And if he flourishes on american POP cinema, he has been able to gather cinephiles of all kinds and of all faiths. This remarkeable achievement was only possible with the talent of the director-mashuper Antonio Maria Da Silva. He works on his own and owes anyone nothing. But for the release of his new film, he holds high the banner of Mashup cinema and give us his first interview. As a result, he undertakes the leadership of the Mashup Nouvelle Vague we are defending against all odds. Before we let ourselves get to the dithyramb and the sycophancy, I let you discover HELL’S CLUB, another night!
You want to know more about the insane brain who made this ?
Hi Antonio. I should say Mr Maria Da Silvia but in the Mashupcinema world, the respect we owe to the work of others does rely more on our accomplishements than on our manners or conventions. And we already know each other just a bit. Therefore I know you spent hundreds of nights working on “Hell’s club, another night.”, my first question would be this one: how do you feel a few moments after your final cut? Coppola used to say: “A film is never over, we abandon it.” Do you confirm?
Antonio Maria Da Silva : Hi Julien, so about how I feel right now: I am exhausted (smiling). More seriously it always does tear me apart to let my baby leave the craddle (even though it is a monstruous baby) as is the part 2 from HELL’S CLUB. It is a real pleasure to create these mashups but also great sacrifices and a great deal of stress, moreover after the first one which was considered as a masterpiece in the mashup world – not my saying though (smiling). By the way, I was petrified for some time because I was afraid not to match the ambition of my previous work. Especially since, in my own case, I don’t show my mashup to anyone before I uplaod it, I only show wome excerpts, so it is like working without any security or so.
It is of course to the audience to decide whether this sequel is better than the first film. But beyond each viewer’s feelings, in your opinion, how is it different from the first one? I have been given the impression we find the same ingredientsin this sequel, you even reused some shots where the character is reflected on many mirrors. And yet, the film seems to be thrown into another dimansion, first of all in terms of duration, since this sequel is twice longer than the first movie.
AMDS: I have not distanced myself enough from my work to tell what is different or not but I just enjoyed myself beyond all limits and I think the audience will feel it. Yes you can find the same ingredients because it is a true sequel, the “setting” is the same. And for this sequel, I applied the “James Cameron” method like he did with Alien 2 or Terminator 2. Concerning the duration, it was not intentional at first, I had planned about 12 minutes, I just went a bit beyond that (smiling). The problem with a sequel is that the audience want it to look lke the first episode but not that much, if you see what I mean. Sequels that look exactly like the first episode scare away the audience. You need to find the right balance and it is what I tried ta achieve with this sequel. I’ve been suffering, believe me! (smiling).
How do you position yourself concerning the borrowed films? Of course, I imagine these films must have inspired you. But how far do you let yourself go into fetichsm? For example, are all the films you mentionned ones that you love or did you just borrow a shot here and there because you found it beautiful or because it was fitting in your narrative frame?
AMDS : My relationship with the borrowed films is very straightforward. There are films I like for many dfferent reasons and also some films I don’t especially like but in which you can find scenes or characters that made an impression on people’s imagination, and so on mine too. For example, THE MASK. The film is not very good but the character is brilliant and iconic so I extract the « essence » of the character so as to integrate it in my universe. The two ALIENS VS PREDATOR films are not very good films (mostly the second one) but the Aliens are « very handsome » and therefore I used them a lot in my film. My aim is to transform the images, kneading them toghever so that thezy become mine. It is not about loving a movie or a character but rather understanding what they represent for the audience and pop culture. By the way, the funny part of this, is that some very famous pop characters are only extras in my film. It is my love letter to the pop culture I love so much (smiling).
Hell’s Club films are creations that directlty interact with our souvenirs as a cinephile. They rely on, first of all, the jubilation of the audience to see all these beloved characters all toghever in the same place. But that wouldn’t work if they were just next to each other. The pleasure we get from the films comes from the dialogs that you make possible between the characters. When do you decide to create an interaction between such or such character? Is it memory or intuition that help you find the right combinations or the manipulation of the shots during the editing? Such a film can not be written on a piece of paper, can it?
AMDS : Being a cinephile myself, I do it for myself above all (smiling). It is my own jubilation that I share with the audience. I use my memory first of all and then I do some research. I think that, at fisrt, you need to understand the meaning of some scenes. Most of the shots that I edit in my films are not there by accident, they are here to help my own thematic logic. Once I have identified this, I can use, for example, images from John Carpenter’s THEY LIVE and from TERMINATOR and create a collision between two universes. Therefore, the character from THEY LIVE wears glasses that allow him to see « intruders » hidden behind their human skin and want to dominate mankind. In TERMINATOR, SkyNet and the terminators also want to enslave mankind. In my universe, the glasses allow him to see then the l’endoskeletton of the TERMINATOR that is hiding behind its hman skin : all at once all the themes from thses two movies are blending in HELL’S CLUB ! The themes are my main guideline. Another example : when I am using images from BEETLEJUICE, it is not without significance. Because in BEETLEJUICE’s story, the door leads to « hell » but the HELL’S CLUB is somehow hell’s lobby. One last example, the scene with Eddie Murphy. He is here because I wanted to make understand to the audience he was the first afro-american actor to have such a success in pop cinema and that he looks unfavorably to the new generations of afro-american actors who took his place in the audience’s heart. At the end of the film, only Denzel Washington remains becuase he is, in my opinion, the most respected actor in Hollywood. His aura is still intact unlike th others. Beyonf the glitter and flash of entertainement, my perspective is actually very conceptual.
Beyond the cinephile’s jubilation, I think that the strenght of Hell’s Club relies on its symbols and its ability to work on visual or narrative self-reflections. The character-films meet in a quintessential cinematographic place: the night club. They see each other in mirrors and the beastly aspect of Tony Montana’s personnality does come out throughout the Alien. Is it why you chose the Alien as the main character?
AMDS : Absolutely. The metaphores and the self-reflections between the characters en films are what I am intesrested in above all . I am somehow telling the story of pop culture. For example, in the scene with Patrick Swayze,I wanted to bring back the « real » ghost of the actor watching his character in DIRTY DANCING. At first, he is surprised to see him as he was at the peak of his fame. Then, he is happy to notice that this image of him will remain in the audience’s memories. But Hell’s Club is a pop film above all, so it is suckep up by Ghostbusters (smiling), imprisoned, like frozen in time. The « evil Aliens » are the absolute evil in pop culture. Tony Montana is a man consumed by power. He can’t do anything against absolute evil without emotion, without the awareness of doing something wrong as says so well Marlon Brando at the end of the film.
With the presence of the Daft Punk and a soundtrack hunted by musical remixes, you clearly hightlight the sample culture and the work of DJs which are at the origin of the creation of the mashup culture as it is today. And, at the beginning, you show photos pinned at the wall to the glory of the actors pictured in the film. Do you agree with the fact that your film is first of all an hommage film?
AMDS : It is a complete and unconditional hommage to cinema AND music pop culture. The sample is a constant that will still evolve with time. I have to specify that I was DJ before (smiling) and I love mixing film music and dance music. The Daft Punk being great samplers, it was self-evident they had to be in HELL’S CLUB. About th initial sequence with the puictures pinned on the wall of the night’s club, it was a storyline idea that reminds the audience what happened in the first episode.
Would that be the main difference between the mashup art and the filming art? The editing is a second writing for any movie. But in the mashup art, everything is created with the images. Nothing is preexisting. Some mashup filmmakers love to show the sutures, the shape of the puzzle pieces. But you do use all your technical knowledge for only one aim: erase those sutures. You even mix within the shots themselves. Beyond the color grading retouches that create a real harmony between all the borrowed films, I have the feeling that in your film, the majority of the shots incude several films on screen. Does it?
AMDS : No, it is exactly that : in 70 % of the shots of Hell’s Club, there are several films from which I borrowed images, that goes up to 7 films in a single frame. I look at my initiative as a complete achievement, the technical aspect is just there to help me. And yes I try my best to erase the sutures between the films and I succeed most of the time. I want the audience to foget it is a mashup and feels like watching a fiction film that just got directed.
Borrowing has always existed in Art. But do you think it is even more true nowadays? The mashup art seems to be anchored in our modern society where images are everywhere and need to be digested so as to understand them.
AMDS : I that mashup is becoming an « honorable » art. I am well-placed to say that because I have experience the time when mashupers were treated as thiefs and were told they had no talent because you did not need any talent to take pictures from others so as to create another film. The sample and mashup cultures are very common nowadays . And its cinema equivalent is gaining recognition with good artists who come out of the shadows like you or Fabrice Mathieu for example.The next step would be a mashup feature film and, as you are pushing us into that, we (the Frenchs) need to be the first to do it ! Like the Daft Punk for music in their days.
Capitalism is dying but still tries to hold (even more?) onto its goods and properties. How do you think the Hollywood studios to which you borrowed your images will react? Did they ever contact you concerning the first episode of Hell’s Club? Did their opinion on Mashupers change recentlty?
AMDS : As a matter of fact, Hollywood studios have always lookd at my work with a kindly eye, at least the ones I met. Can’t say the same with the jurists. But as of now, they are think on new solutions because they see here an opportunity to make low cost films, seems legit (smiling). All this is developing et it is not impossible to see mashup feature films that would be official blockbusters just show up. We can almost do everything we want but there are still technical limits and the lack of time, above all time.
You said Hell’s Club was meant to be a trilogy. Will we have the opportunity to watch a thrid episode or are you just too exhausted?
AMDS : I am exhausted but I will make a trid one. T tell you the truth I have actually already started (smiling). I already have some crazy ideas that scramble in my head. It will be quite different. I will be an hommage to an actor, « a bad guy » to be more specific. If evrything works as planned John Travolta will be the new boss of Hell’s Club, and th title will be « HELL’S CLUB, ODE TO JOY » (« Hymne à la joie » in french) … but I will first work on my feature film VITAE UMBRA for a little while.
You really do honor in a marvelllous way the american pop culture. Don’t you think, however, that you could apply your concept to other cinematoghaphic cultures?
AMDS : No, because it an enthusiast’s work and I do love american pop culture but maybe I could someday switch to another genre. My current niche is the blockbuster mashup. Yet, my hommage mashup project to ROCKY BALBOA will not be a blockbuster. I just try to create a tangible world like for hell’s club to improve Rocky, and I have a lot of hassle with all that. As of now, I am tryong to work on a spin off from Hell’s Club that will take place in night club’s toilets ! To tell you the truth, I had planned at first to include thses scenes in HELL’S CLUB ANOTHER NIGHT but we were losing the tension. As a result, I have removed them and got the idea to create a spin off out of them that would last about 5 to 6 minutes. Even though there still will be action, it will be lighter and, I do hope so, much funnier. And here I give you the three first screenshots that I made just today: