This interview was originally published as part of indieWIRE’s coverage of the 2009 Berlin Film Festival. “Treeless Mountain” opens in New York this Wednesday, April 22, while “The Exploding Girl” will have its U.S. premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival
“Both of our films are slow and quiet,” admitted filmmaker So Yong Kim, almost apologetically, during a conversation with indieWIRE in Berlin. She was referring to feature films by she and her husband, Bradley Rust Gray.
A couple who met at the Chicago Art Institute fifteen years ago, Kim and Gray are in Berlin with two of the four films they’ve made together. Gray’s “The Exploding Girl” had its world premiere here this week, while Kim’s “Treeless Mountain” had its European debut after premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Their previous work, Kim’s “In Between Days” and Gray’s “Salt” also screened here at the Berlin fest.
The duo make movies under their company label: soandbrad, inc.
“I definitely see it as we’ve made four films,” Gray explained, looking at his wife while their young daughter played nearby. “There is a definite continuous arc, our styles are very similar. I wouldn’t work on something if So didn’t like the idea.”
“I get a lot of out his films and ideas,” concurred Kim, referring to her husband’s work. The two reiterated that they are inspired by the work of their spouse. “I think we are learning from each other,” Gray added.
Described by the Toronto International Film Festival as, “An observational portrait of a young girl coming to terms with loss and abandonment,” So Yong Kim’s “Treeless Mountain” was produced by Gray, Ben Howe, Kim, Lars Knudsen, and Jay Van Hoy. Gray’s “Girl,” described by the Berlin fest as “both a love story and a study of friendship,” was produced by Karin Chien, Howe, and Kim.
The financial scope of their projects has been modest thus far, but they’ve appreciated the freedom that gives them. “It’s geat to know that you can make a movie with very little money because that means you can do whatever you want to do,” Gray noted. But, as a result, their biggest challenge has been finding the audience for their work. Yet, they aren’t interested in distributing their work themselves.
“If we put our passion into getting it to the audience it would be different for us,” So Yong Kim reiterated, saying that it would be simply nervewaracking. But she added, optimistically, “[But] there’s some talks among our friends who are directors to come together to share resources.”
“After the film is made, I want to get started on the next one rather than worry about how its going to get distributed,” Kim explained, “It seems so complicated and difficult.”
“I think we’d like to make films that have a wider audience [appeal],” Gray noted, “But, right now [we are] trying to find people that have similar taste.” Namely moviegeors. Bradley Rust Gray emphasized a frustration that there are few venues, outside of festivals, for work like the films he and So Yong Kim are making.
“There is a giant disconnect between people who love movies and the business,” Gray commented, “I cannot choose what comes to the theater…”