First and foremost, Adam Christian Clark wants you to forget you’re actually watching a movie when you see his family drama “Caroline and Jackie.” Clark’s mission with his film was to make it as naturalistic as possible (key influences on the film were Cassavetes and Altman) after feeling like he began his film career with too much emphasis on style over substance.
In Clark’s words he is “reinventing” his method of filmmaking with the hope that Tribeca audiences “for even just a brief moment, forgot they were watching a movie and just thought they were watching their own family interact.”
What’s it about?: “”Caroline and Jackie” for me was an exploration of the strength and brevity of the bond between sisters. I wanted to further understand why we feel the freedom and compulsion to abuse, and to love our birth family with the same level of hatred and charity with which we judge ourselves. I wanted to know why we run away from our family when they love us, and why we stay close when they abuse us.
“Genre-wise the film is an American Independent drama with a twist. It’s a character-based story that focuses on the extreme love and hate that exists within family bonds. Specifically I explore that between two sisters.”
Director Clark says: “Stylistically my number one goal at all stages of production was for the narrative to always maintain the highest level of reality possible. My hope would be that the camera, the lighting, the sound, the performances, and my own ego will go as unnoticed as possible, and that you may feel, if just for a moment, that you are watching your own family interact. That view may come as a surprise, as the film’s characters are highly vapid and their world greatly stylized. My answer would be that in being truly honest, we have to admit that we are all vapid, and our own little world is forever increasing in style and conformity.”
On learning from past mistakes: “As I attempted to make my first short film, I really fought against the experience I had, and I went about filmmaking in a more formal or tradition sense; like I was trying to copy a Stanley Kubrick film or something. I was doing everything I thought I needed to do to make movies like the ones I liked: using very formalistic dolly shots, very controlled acting, my main focus was more mise en scene than anything else. In doing this, I often fell flat on my face. Ultimately, I wasn’t utilizing a lot of the skills I already had, and in doing so I wasn’t really able to focus on the quality of the acting as much as I would have wanted.
“With “Caroline and Jackie,” I really tried to learn from my mistakes. In a lot of ways I reinvented my approach, and went back to what I knew but had been choosing not to use. I really put all focus on the acting, to the extent that I rehearsed for over a month before shooting. I think I was more effective in this structure, and I enjoyed this process more so than anything in the past.”
On challenges: “The hardest thing for me in growing as a filmmaker has been learning restrain. It’s taken me a lot of work to even begin to learn how to look at the big picture and have the control and confidence to throw away the best shots, the best performances, the most vibrant moments, when they take notice of themselves and fight the wholeness of the organism. My biggest challenge with “Caroline and Jackie” was making sure that no single element, including myself, was ever allowed to take notice outside the group.”
Future projects?: “I just developed a TV series with the producers of “Blue Valentine.” It’s an episodic period drama centered in America’s first country club. I’ve really enjoyed working on something with so much real history to pull from. Going back and reading the NY Times from that period for instance has been so captivating, creating historical fiction around such wonderfully rich characters, J.P. Morgan, Augustus Juilliard, Emily Post, George F. Baker, they were all there. It’s rich in scandal and has been a joyous world to get lost in. I would describe it as the true-to-life American version of Downton Abbey or Upstairs Downstairs.”
“I’m also just a few weeks away from finishing the screenplay I’d like to shoot next. Like “Caroline and Jackie,” it’s very grounded, but it’s much larger, and I’m excited because I feel it has the potential to reach a bigger audience. At its story core, it’s a coming of age tragedy set in the world of 1990’s boy bands. That too has a lot of great real history to pull from.”
Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2012 festival.
Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch for the latest profiles.