Interview for the movie Backroom
Backroom intertwines more than 150 films, and continues, after La Banlieue du Skeud (presented at FID in 2018), to explore the mash-up technique. Where does your interest in this practice come from?
The first is that I am not an image maker, but I really enjoy discovering the ability of sound to distort this image. The mash-up gives me immediate access to this relationship. The second is from an economic point of view because it is an ideal cinematographic practice for the poor. The slowness to release funds and make a film kills my creative energy too much, so I started to manipulate the film material itself to make cinema. There are also political reasons. The filmmaker just chews and chews up parts of his life that he has absorbed, including watching other films, to create a distorting mirror of our world. It continues the extension of films made from others. For every film there is not ‘one’ but ‘authors. To mash-up is to accept that the cinema can overflow with uncontrolled manipulations, scattered consultations, vulgar deformations, it is to undermine a certain anti-film concept that only a law of the market could put in place. Cinema lags far behind this idea of recovery compared to other mediums, particularly in music with sampling, poetry for cut-up ...
Salle Obscure is an investigative film that progresses without really revealing its plot. How did you envision the scenario at the start?
I never leave with a script to make a film, but with aesthetic proposals. For Salle Obscure, I wanted to make a film echoing Barthes' writings around the author’s death, supporting the desire to make a "scriptable" film through stolen films. I also wanted to counterbalance my previous very talkative film by working in an almost silent way, allowing me to elaborate the sound under its gestural and sensitive component. Scabrous and very funny sound shoots took place. For example the rain was made thanks to a concerto of packets of chips, the telephone rings are melodies on the accelerated saxophone, the repeated honking of the horns was recorded in the middle of the night in the city center, the microphones placed at a distance on a balcony of an apartment where sounding actors were barking who thought they were dogs! The choice of the thriller seemed judicious to me to justify this research ...
The soundtrack and sound effects are not part of the movie clips used, but everything was built by you and takes on a humorous feel. Can you explain this choice?
I always try to destroy the universe in which I immerse myself. My favorite magic tricks are the ones I know the inner workings of, but the illusion of which works. In Salle Obscure, I like to play around knowing that it is made up of odds and ends, poor sounds sometimes recorded under borderline conditions. I like to feel the cog and that creates contrast to those perfect images. This sensation, well balanced, produces something funny. Back in the days when I was throwing the Missed Film Festival, I liked to feel that little money was trying to make a dream machine work. I play it back with the sound that derails the fourth wall to remind you that there is something happening behind it.
Can you tell us more about the invented language present in the film?
This invented language refers as much to Lettrist poems, to the zaoum of Russian futurist poets, but also and above all to a unique group in Moselle (where I live) where the singer sings in the Platt dialect. At every concert, no one understands what he is saying, but he screams so loudly that you know it's all rage coming out of his mouth. You can put whatever words you want to this rage, above all you have to bring it to life. And at each end of the concert, the catharsis has stunned everyone now shirtless and without even having understood a word. In fact, one evening I went to see the singer, who, often being far too turned on to remember words to desecrate, told me he was singing in yogurt. I told myself that this was what I wanted to reproduce in a film: yoghurt that we don't understand anything about, but that we live intensely ... So I invented this language that I call Zcwil, and which is a gloubi bulga of tongues, like a baby rattling with its vocal cords.
How long did it take to make the film?
The film took 2 years to create. The first year was a grueling year where I organized the images, put them together to make a film (it had to be a feature film at the base, more than 350 films selected) and create sound shoots, in particular within the radio de Bourges entitled Radio Radio. This first year was supported within the framework of the post diploma Arts and sound creations in Bourges. The second year was completed with help from Wrong Films production and adorable technicians. I found it a very pleasant requirement. The film would be nothing without this support. As we did not have the means, this allowed the film to be decanted several times, and to take it from another angle with more conviction. Salle Obscure closes a trilogy of mash-ups carried out since 2014, after The truth about the year 2000 and La banlieue du Skeud.
Critic for the movie Backroom
From Amityville to the Final Destination franchise, from Z movies to Tokyo Sonata, Maxime le Moing has patiently summoned no less than 150 films to make Salle obscure. A mere exercise in erudition from a film-lover? This “dark room” houses much more. At the beginning, like bait, a revised and truncated version of that iconic scene in Psycho. The cruelty of an inaugural gesture that calls for many other crimes, and first of all, that of the dismembered films themselves, reassembled for a paradoxically fetishist journey. Its apparent movement: a wild race through the dark, striped with windstorms, thunderstorms, floods. In this film, sewn in strips but faceless, like a monstrous body, we become detectives in search of the liquid matter of our own memory. This erotic game of images opens onto an underworld following a disrupted, shaken-up narrative logic. Mechanics of fantasy at work, like the shots of cinema machinery (tribute to Coppola and De Palma) that punctuate the film, the room is haunted with remote whispers, as if a secrete conversation were happening off-screen. Maxime Le Moing slides along and plunges us into this deceptive and fun game, as if lost in the ambivalent pleasure of images that cinema fixes to our souls, that fertile ground where our desire grows out of the corpse of our imagined memories. A projection in this Salle obscure, evocative of Freud’s dark room of course, the little inner theatre of our unconscious, this factory of dreams and ghosts, creates here an ode to the exquisite shadows of cinema, to better let ourselves be submerged in it. (N.F.)