INTERVIEW BY MARCY GOLDBERG

You have worked in all genres, from fiction to documentary and experimental and essay film. How would you define this new film?

I wouldn’t call it any of those things. Those labels suggest certain pre-formed expectations that this film does not adhere to. We need better names for things. Names which relate the nuances of a thing. A tree is not just a tree. I like the idea of ‘white’ films - like the white light you get when combining the colors of the spectrum.

This film is, in part, about the breaking down of categories, or prejudices. GGLSD invites the viewer to go on a journey, to actively participate in the making of meaning and the opening of the senses. It isn’t aimed at a specific category of viewer. It will appeal to anyone who can find something of their own sensibility in it, whether they relate to the journey itself, the characters encountered along the way, the notions of belief and spirituality, or simply the aesthetic potential of image and sound.

Is Gambling, Gods and LSD intended to work on the intellect, or the senses, or both?


The film addresses a part of the psyche that everyone has. It’s the musical, painterly, you could even say hallucinogenic sensibility. It relates to the realm of the unconscious and of dreams: a kind of state that involves the intellect but also bypasses the intellect. The film is a transmission of experience, at times beyond language and concepts, letting the situations speak for themselves. This has very much to do with how we use our senses, how we experience a piece of music, a situation, or an image - the combination of different sense perceptions.

In the film Albert Hofman, the inventor of LSD, talks about the kind of perception we have as children, and later lose. Is the film an attempt to try to restore that sense of wonder, as Hofman describes it?

Yes, to an extent, I did try to invoke the non-judgmental openness of the way a child sometimes sees. I try to invite the viewers to approach the film with this openness and let them feel free to interpret for themselves.

The meaning of the film is ultimately generated by the individual viewer?

Ultimately, the film is about the people who watch it. Again, the experience of watching the film reflects the central idea of what the film is ‘about’: the way in which we make things meaningful. Watching the film is an active experience in the quest for meaning, in acknowledging the fragility of our belief systems, in our ongoing pursuits of happiness – or whatever you’d like to call it. Within this context, the film comes across a wide range of situations such as addiction, the manifestation of God, the departure of loved ones, the attempt to perfect our environment through technological or scientific intervention, mass ecstatic gatherings in churches, raves, implosions, poodle races or guru visitations etc.

Poodle Races?


Yes, the film addresses not only spectacular situations, but also the banality of the everyday. I think what I learned most in making this film was how to see the potential, or similar themes, in anything I would look at. And how anything I could look at, somehow contains the strains of everything seen
before.

And the experience of making the film?

My experience of shooting the film was a mix of observation and participation, of research and openness, of following encounters while developing an instinct of when to run the camera. During editing the experience of going on that journey was repeated. Just as events unfolded with their own particular chaotic logic while I was travelling, the film also had to grow out of this same inner logic. I could say that in a sense the film made itself, and I acted only as a medium. This was one of my strictest guidelines. Another was that the film could only be edited in chronological order. The editing responds to what happens, instead of trying to impose a structure on the material from the outside. You could say: the flow dictates the form.

Gambling, Gods and LSD has been called an "audio-visual composition”. What role did music or musical structures play in the making of the film?

Picture and sound were edited simultaneously, and they fed off and stimulated one another. The music in the film is a mix of real environmental sounds, pre-recorded music, and original compositions that were developed specifically for the film. While you are watching the film, you’re not always sure what is what. This heightens the perception of sound and the image to which it is linked, which generally stimulates the senses to go deeper. The musical structures complement the other modes within the film: storytelling, documentation and fantasy.

Filmmaking as a kind of composing?

I definitely think the camera is like a musical instrument: you tune yourself according to the subjects you want to capture. But it’s important that your own experience is transmitted through the instrument you’re recording with. I think that allowing yourself to perceive and experience the world on the musical instrument level – meaning not just sound and image but also thematically – takes you into another dimension of the language of cinema.

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