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 wouldnt 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 isnt 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,
The film addresses a part of the psyche that everyone has. Its 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
youd 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.
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
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
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, youre 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 its important
that your own experience is transmitted through the instrument youre
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.