pains of blog reviewing is that, once word gets out about your site, you begin receiving out-of-the-blue invitations to "watch my movie, please!" And if you really love movies, it's difficult to automatically say no. Who knows if you'll be passing up the next big thing or simply an enjoyable film whose maker deserves to be encouraged to keep filming. Sure, you can get a lemon or two not worth five minutes of your time. But, hey, you can get the same after plunking down 13 bucks to see the latest mainstream movie, too. So it was that TrustMovies came upon OPEN FIVE, the most recent (though it's the first he's seen) from Memphis-based filmmaker Kentucker Audley (a great name: like Maxine Audley, were her family from Kentucky instead of London).
web site. Lasting just over an hour, Open Five is about love and music and is, I say this with as much trepidation as excitement, pretty much mumble-core. In my definition, anyway. Not only did m'core master Joe Swanberg shoot the film (more on this in the short interview with the filmmaker, further below) but the movie has, to my mind, one of the hallmarks of this johnny-come-lately genre: its characters appear to be drifting rather aimlessly toward... whatever. No one exhibits much energy toward any objective.
Bette Davis, Susan Hayward or Joan Crawford making a mumblecore movie? (Now there's a skit that might bring back Mad-TV.) In fact, in Swanberg's most recent film, Alexander the Last, his use of the vital, high-energy performer Jess Weixler helped lift his movie from the some-times-morass that mumblecore can become. That's sounds like a slur, I know, but part of the problem with the m'core genre is that, without some variation in the pacing, events, dialog, action and energy-level, it can too easily put an audience to sleep. (There are wonderful exceptions: Aaron Katz's Quiet City is one such.)
Jake Rabinbach (shown two photos above) tell the story of two guys, musicians named Jake and Kentucker (yes, this is "sort of/sort of not" autobiography) and the two young women from New York City who visit the guys in Memphis. The movie begins with a nice NYC-based necking-on-the-fire-escape scene (just above) between Jake and Lucy (the lovely Shannon Esper), after which Lucy and her friend Rose (the equally enchanting Genevieve Angelson, below) pay a visit down south. The women here are more open and immediate than the guys -- whether this is due to the filmmakers telling their own story and so keeping closer to the vest regarding the males, or to the women being the more gracious and appealing characters, I'm not sure. We also see and hear a lot more from Jake than we do Kentucker, perhaps because the director wanted to be more generous to his co-star/co-writer, who really is the main focus of the film.
OK: Here we go…Your film was shot by Joe Swanberg! How’d he get involved in this?
Joe and I have been friends for a couple years. We hooked up after my first film Team Picture and he shot that film's epilogue, Ginger Sand. The collaboration went great, so I enlisted him again.
What’s the meaning of the film’s title? (A music industry term, maybe?)
Would you call your film mumblecore? If so, why; if not, why not?
Why not? I've always been on the mumblecore fringe. There's no deciding committee for it, so history will have to work that out. But I certainly am proud to be associated with the bulk of what's considered mumblecore. For me, it's an exciting set of films, of course not exciting in the way you normally use exciting.
Very funny (and true). M’core or not, it’s definitely DIY. What did it cost to reach the level it has.
Very little. Our entire budget was raised through an online fundraiser, around $15,000.
website) On my laptop, it looked very good, even when blown up to full screen.
Our marketing budget was $100. $60 for the Plus Vimeo account and $40 for posters and flyers for the Memphis screening. (That put us in the hole $100 bucks because we had no money left from production.) And, yeah, I think it looks absolutely fine on Vimeo. The point for me has never been the picture quality or production value. And I think there's almost an expectation that watching content online will be low-quality. In that way, by focusing on the online release we even the playing field a little because we could never compete with the industry standard of the way a film looks and sounds in a theatre. And if we have a decent image quality online, most everyone will think that's great compared to the quality of most YouTube videos.
Your characters all seem to be drifting rather aimlessly (I find this a hallmark of mumblecore, actually, which is why I would peg OPEN FIVE as an example of m’core). Is this how you see these characters?
Was your script written -- or just outlined and then mostly improvised?
We wrote a full script, well, recited it into our MacBooks. Then I listened back to it, and transcibed it and showed it the actors and crew once then forgot about it. Nothing from the final film was scripted.
I pegged the movie as running 64 minutes. Is this the right length? If so, it’s sort of hits somewhere between a long short and a very short full-length. Was this intentional, or did you simply say everything you felt the movie needed to say by the end of those 64 minutes?
So far as themes are concerned, the movie seems to me to be about commitment -- or the lack of it. The girls want t it, the guys don’t. This is rather typical of the characters’ ages (and genders), I think – and also maybe because those involved in the music industry. But there also seems to be a lack of commitment to music, too – at least on the past of Jake. Care to comment on this?
These are deep issues. I don't think I could answer for Jake or the women as far as if they desire commitment. I don't think commitment even comes up for my character because I just met this women and she's only in town for the weekend. That's a ready-made situation where commitment doesn't need to enter the frame. But I know Jake is completely committed to his music. Maybe you'd have to see more to fully trust that, but there's a larger technique at work in these films -- which is to not show enough.
And finally, was that his/your own music that was used in the film, and was that’s Jake’s voice? If so, he has a good one!