Monday, September 14, 2015

LACE CRATER: Director Profile + 5 Questions With Harrison Atkins

Lace Crater is director Harrison Atkins's feature film debut, and it's playing as part of this year's Vanguard programme.
An awkward twentysomething begins to undergo some strange physical changes after a weekend tryst - with a ghost - in this charmingly lo-fi, supernaturally-tinged comedy-drama.
Not content to do just one thing, Atkins is a director, producer, writer, cinematographer, editor, and musician. Whew! That's a lot of talent for one guy.

We've already discussed a few of his short films on the blog, and if you haven't already, you should definitely check them out. They are weird, witty, and wonderful.

After watching the short films and the Lace Crater teaser trailer, our curiosity was piqued so we chatted with Atkins about his influences and his obsession with cats. There may have been some mention of the Official Vanguard Mascot Competition, too. Hrmmm...

"Hello, this is the Committee To Re-Elect Joe Swanberg as Official Vanguard Mascot calling..."
 You've got Bandcamp pages for three different bands (all of which you are involved with) listed on your website. In "Blissful Banquet" you actually have music performed live. Would you ever be interested in scoring films?

I'd love to score films. I was able to compose for films a little bit in college and found it very stimulating. In the past few years, I've toyed with the possibility of scoring a film of my own, but have always ended up collaborating with other artists. Maybe some day!

Please expand upon your fascination with cats. They feature prominently in two of your short films. Do you have cats of your own?

No, I'm actually allergic to cats so in my real life I have to keep them at a distance. I think cinema is the only lens through which I can explore my desire to pet them and hold them. Honestly, I'm not sure why they keep popping up. I guess I just think they're funny? But I'm not ruling out the possibility of some subconscious or repressed trauma.

Last year, It Follows, a movie about a girl who contracts a ghost from sex, played at the Festival. In Lace Crater, your character has sex with a ghost. Do you think that sex and ghosts are part of the current cultural zeitgeist and if so, why?

It's pretty strange! I mean, I think technology has the capability to fracture identity in a way is sort of unprecedented. There's definitely something kind of spectral to me about the personas people adopt online. Not to mention this whole uniquely modern experience of having a friend or acquaintance who tragically dies, but then you can still visit all of their social media accounts? That's a very ghostly thing, really, this Internet proxy self that haunts cyberspace after death. So I suppose this all could be a corollary of culture's increasingly immediate and intimate relationship with technology.

Your short films have playful, sarcastic, almost surreal qualities. Are there any filmmakers who have inspired you to strive for those qualities because of their own films?

So many. But Stephen Chow instantly springs to mind; he's one of my favorites. And along the same lines, Katsuhito Ishii - especially Funky Forest, which was huge for me. And I'm a pretty big Apichatpong Weerasethakul guy; a lot of his films have a kind of goofy formal language that really resonates with me. Andrzej Zulawski is in there somewhere, too. And David Lynch, when he's being funny.

Did you know that Joe Swanberg was the Official Vanguard Mascot of 2013? Now that you have this information, do you feel compelled to toss your hat into the ring for Official Vanguard Mascot of 2015? (Also, how is Mr. Swanberg handling things post-Vanguard Mascot? He never returns our texts.)

I'm tempted to gun for the crown this year, but what's the point of replacing one giant novelty pencil with another? What I mean to say is, I have a lot of respect for the current Mascot. It seems like a really tough job. And I know Joe just hasn't been the same since he lost the title last year. I think the transition from Mascot back to civilian can be really rough. (It's a complex social issue that I don't think gets enough publicity.)

LACE CRATER Screening Times:
Tue. Sept 15, 9:30PM SCOTIABANK 10
Thu. Sept 17, 9:30PM SCOTIABANK 14
Sun. Sept 20, 3:15PM SCOTIABANK 9

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