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‘Quiet City’ Q&A, Part I

'Quiet City' Q&A, Part I

Aaron Katz’s SXSW 2007 premiere, Quiet City, opens in New York on Wednesday at the IFC Center. Only one year after bringing his debut feature (the powerful Dance Party, USA) to SXSW, Katz returned to Austin for the debut of his very different, but no less impressive, Quiet City. During SXSW, The Austin Chronicle called it “A Terrence Malick film for the new Lost Generation.” It’s a beautifully rendered look at the nuances of infatuation and communication. I asked Katz and two of his collaborators, producer Brendan McFadden and cinematographer Andrew Reed, to answer a few questions on the eve of its release. The second part of this Q&A can be found on the SXSW MySpace blog. Here’s the first part:

Me: The film feels like a love letter to Brooklyn. What was your favorite location of the film?

Reed: I liked Alex Bickel’s apartment… He had sandwiches.
McFadden: I would say the scene at the Smith and 9th stop.
Reed: That was going to be my serious answer.
Katz: Me too.
McFadden: The scene at Prospect Park is beautiful too, but it’s a park that’s naturally that way. I think the scene at the Smith and 9th is more interesting. I find it to be beautiful in my day to day life, but I don’t think it’s perceived by most people as such.
Katz: I love waiting at that stop because it’s so high up and you can see so much.
McFadden: Another reason I like that location is because it’s a place that feels like it’s kind of a secret. I think it works well with the theme of the film. Like the two characters being able to find a different side of New York.
Reed: I also like the spot where they hop the wall.
Katz: We shot that outside my apartment building.
Reed: That’s another place you wouldn’t think of as naturally beautiful.
Katz: Definitely not, but I think it looks great in the film. The film actually makes me have more affection for that spot when I leave my building.

Me: Some have noted that Quiet City recalls Malick, Linklater, Godard, or Truffaut. Do you agree with any of these? And do you feel there are some other influences people don’t quite notice?

McFadden: I like all those people.
Reed: Those are all people that we admire, but I don’t think that any of them had a specific influence on Quiet City. We didn’t set out with a blueprint of influences. We all know what we like and that has to come out in little pieces, but that’s not what we were trying to do.
McFadden: I think we were mostly responding to what we were seeing in front of us.
Katz:The locations were a big influence. I agree with Brendan about responding to what was in front of us. A lot of my favorite things in the movie came from decisions that were made a minute before we were shooting.

Me: Naysayers could argue that this is a talk-heavy film without much action, but I think it’s definitely packed with developments, conflicts, and tension. Without spoiling too much, how would you describe the changing dynamic between Jamie and Charlie over the course of the film?

Katz: It changes in a lot of small ways.
Reed: They’re large changes that happen on a small canvas. It starts out hopeful, but a little cautious.
Katz: I think that it has to do with the situation. Because Jamie can’t find her friend and she’s in a city that she doesn’t know she’s getting all this borrowed time. The relationship between Jamie and Charlie is insulated from the world in a way. The outside world comes in at the end, but before that it’s just the two of them.
McFadden: There’s a notion in films that there has to be a big arc, but it’s different here. It’s more like a lot of little things that add up.

Get the rest of this Q&A, at the SXSW MySpace blog.

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