Interview: Nadine Patterson’s Talks Her Reimagining Of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ Which Screens 4/23 In Harlem

Interview: Nadine Patterson's Talks Her Reimagining Of Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' Which Screens 4/23 In Harlem

Filmmaker
Nadine Patterson’s
provocative and original film version of William Shakespeare’s
Macbeth
will be screened in Harlem in New York City this coming Weds April 23rd,
starting at 6:30PM, and the filmmaker herself will be there in person as
well.

To
reserve a ticket you can go to the film’s website HERE.

The
film is currently in a limited theatrical run through Tugg, a web-based
platform that allows audiences to choose what films play at their local
theaters and will play at the AMC Magic Johnson Harlem 9.  

But
a few days ago I also had the chance to talk to the Philadelphia-based
filmmaker herself for whom Tango Macbeth is her first feature film, after
working for several years in the documentary field and television.  The London Film School Masters graduate spoke
to me about the genesis of her feature and what it takes to be an independent
filmmaker.

SERGIO:
As always the most obvious question first – how did this project come about?

PATTERSON: Well
I developed the idea when I was in London.
I studied at the London Film School
from 2003 to 2005 and I worked with several Black British actors while I was
there and they said that in order to advance in their careers they had to they really
had to do the canon of Shakespeare’s
works. But because they’re black, they’re not really considered for any of the
major roles. 

So I initially started out creating a film version of one of
Shakespeare’s works to provide opportunities for people of color. That was my original
intention, so when I was thinking about which play, I wanted to focus on and
spend the next five or six years (laughing) creating a film of it, I selected Macbeth. That’s how the project
started.

 

SERGIO:
So how long did it take you to see this project through, from inception to the
final finished film?

PATTERSON: So I started work-shopping the film in London
in the summer of 2008, and I completed the script in 2010, had the cast together
and shot the film in 2011, and went into post-production the end of 2011 into
2012, and completed post-production in 2012.

SERGIO:
The reason I asked that is because I wanted any aspiring filmmakers out there
to get some idea of what it takes to make a film, even a small budget
independent one. A lot of people think you can just take a camera and go shoot
something, but, in reality, if you want to do it right, it takes years of dedication
and determination.

PATTERSON: Yes
it is! You’re absolutely right.

SERGIO:
So what kept you going despite all the hardships and setbacks I’m sure you faced
making your film? At any time, you could have said, I give up, this isn’t going
anywhere, but you stuck with it.

PATTERSON:
Well
I love Shakespeare and I’ve always enjoyed his plays. I love the use of language,
I think the lessons that we can learn from his works are endless and I liked
the idea of exploring the relationship between the Macbeths. They are a very passionate
couple, they’re totally in love with each other, but they happen to be evil and
I wanted to explore that dichotomy. Like how can you have a couple that is so in
love, and so caring in terms of each other, and yet, commit such heinous crimes
against others, like friends and family? So it was a puzzle
that I wanted to explore through creating a film adaptation. And that’s what
kept me going – that hunger; that search to figure out why, why, why. Why do
people do bad things? (laughs). Or why do people start off with good intentions, and then just screw everything up?

SERGIO:
And what about the naysayers. Those people who don’t believe in you and always try
to shoot you down? Why are wasting your time with this? Can’t you find
something else better to do?

PATTERSON: You
know because I’ve seen so many bad films, (laughs), really, really crappy films.
And I know I could make a film that was better than those crappy films that I
had seen. I knew I could do that. And because I was working with one of best
writers on the planet, living or dead, Shakespeare, I knew that I could create
at least a compelling story that people could sit and watch and feel that they
weren’t wasting their time viewing. So I knew that. And because of my earlier
training as a documentary filmmaker, and my training at the London
Film School, I learned from some of the best filmmakers on the planet Earth. I
really understood the craft of filmmaking and the language of cinema. I knew I
could do it. I knew I could do it. I believed in myself.

SERGIO:
Is it necessary to go to film school?

PATTERSON: No,
but for me it helped because I was making the transition from documentary and
television work into narrative cinema. And my plan was to make as many short
films as I could. So I made four short films while I was there, in a two and half
year time period, which was important for me. And I wanted to actually touch the
film and I wanted to shoot on film, so I asked myself, where is the place where
I can actually work in film? Not video, not HD, but actually touch the
celluloid; and that was the London Film School, so I went there.

SERGIO:
And the other most obvious question – what’s next?

PATTERSON: Well
my next project is… (takes a breath) Black Paris! I want to do an experimental
documentary about the black presence in the city of Paris, looking at seven
different points in its 2000 year history. It’s big (laughs) and it requires
that I’m going to have to spend a lot of time in Paris…

SERGIO:
Like you’re complaining…

PATTERSON: (laughs)
Like I’m complaining, yeah exactly! For me, part of my ability to persevere as a filmmaker
is that I select subjects or topics for films that I know I will enjoy; that I
know I can spend the next five or six years of my life working on it, obsessing
about it, day in and day out. Because if you don’t love it with a passion, then
you’re not going to be able to get through all the naysayers; you’re not going
to get through all the rejection letters from potential funders; you won’t be
able to get through all the hassles with the cast and crew. You just won’t. So
you have to love it. It’s the love that carries you through.

Check out Ms. Patterson’s website HERE for her production company, to find out about her
projects: 

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