A: But you’re now an internationalist, not just playing a Russian in America, but you also just co-produced a movie in India, so I’ve heard.
R: Let me elaborate. Two years ago these guys came to me and said, “Would you like to be in this film? We haven’t written the script yet, but we have written the treatment.” It’s based on a section of a novel that was written in the nineties. And the section of the novel is mainly set in India, with a little bit in the U.K. It’s about these two boys who have to run from their homes because they’ve gotten themselves in all sorts of trouble.
Before I met them, I thought that the producers were going to be like eighteen or nineteen-year-old fledglings just trying to get something off the ground. And I thought, yeah, I’ll go along to the meeting and I might learn something about producing, though I’m not going to hold out much hope. And then I got there, and they were quite well-seasoned producers who had thought that they would get an actor who they wanted to help birth the script and have him help to cast and help to come up with the film from grassroots level. So me and the director and a couple of writers, we all kind of co-wrote this script together.
So it’s been quite a gratifying experience, because it actually came off. We got to go and make the film in India for four weeks. Now it’s in the edit. Now it’s the producer bit for me where the first cut is kind of ready or nearing readiness. I have to go in, and watch it as objectively as possible. But that’s impossible. Especially if you’re an actor and a show off and somewhat self-obsessed. You can’t watch a film objectively that you’re in, because you’re just watching yourself and constantly thinking, “Is that alright?”
A: Yes, there was a scene when we were doing our film and it was one of the few times you kind of snapped at me on set. It was when I had set up the camera in such a way that it wasn’t focused on you, it was on the back of your head.
R: Oh, anyway… So tell us this Ari Gold, tell us this. Two-pronged question. First of all, why do you make films? Why is this the thing that you’ve decided to dedicate yourself to? And secondly, why this film? The subject matter is incredibly niche and specific.
“There was one morning I woke up on the dock spooning someone…I woke up just half-naked…Not sure how we got there.”
— Robert Sheehan
A: I make films because, for me, it’s the closest form of storytelling that allows you to go into a dream space. I’ve been trying to figure out why I haven’t tried to get into television. I don’t know, but it’s something about the lights going down. In the traditional way of watching movies, the lights go down, and you go into this dream space.
The stories that I want to tell, although on the surface they’re not necessarily advertizing their spirituality, I do think that there’s an opportunity there, with movies, to go into the way storytelling, going back all the way through human history, back to when tribal gatherings were around the firelight, where someone is telling a story that is healing in some way. I think when a movie is done right it can, in unconscious ways, provide some kind of healing to the people who watch it.
And this story is very specific, but any good story, I think, is very specific to what it is and yet it touches on something universal. The movie is about three characters on the lake going through this strange dance with each other. But on a deeper level, all of them are connecting with the water. The water represents life, and sex, and fun, and summer. And in the winter it represents death. And when I say represents, the movie starts with someone committing suicide on the ice. By engaging with the water, these people are trying to reengage with life itself.
So I can’t say that there’s a message exactly to the film, except I don’t think it’s worth telling a story unless it provides something healing for people watching it. And maybe I’m traditionalist in that sense, but I do think there’s a responsibility as a storyteller to imagine that you’re with your tribe and you have their attention for an hour and a half and the fire is glowing and you want to give them the right kind of dream so that the next day they feel better and they’re better people.
Each of the three main characters has a language of dreams. Your character has dreams. Charlie, the grandmother has dreams. And Oli, your friend and the grandson, has dreams. And they all have the different flavor, but each is based on their relationship to the water.
You’re above the water dreaming of the past, dreaming of the beauty that might have floated on the water – the beautiful young Charlie floating on the water. Charlie is in the water, dreaming of her skinny dipping with her husband when she was eighteen. And Oli’s dreaming of the ice because that’s where her father’s died. All three of you are processing your struggle to feel in the present, through the way you relate to the water.
Directed by Kelly Reichardt and written by Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond, Night Moves (2013) stars Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Sarsgaard as three activists who scheme to blow up a hydroelectric dam.
Reichardt is an American screenwriter and director from Florida who studied film at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She debuted her first film River of Grass in 1994 and is known for her films Old Joy (2006) and Wendy and Lucy (2008). Her film Night Moves debuted at the 70th Venice International Film Festival in 2013. Currently, Reichardt is the Artist-in-Residence at Bard College’s Film and Electronics program.
So maybe “On Sway Lake” is how you see the title because your character is on the surface of the lake, “In Sway Lake” would be Charlie, and “Under Sway Lake” would be Oli.
R: “Under Sway Lake”? “Under Sway Lake” is good.
A: But it starts with a U. Really we want something that starts with an A, because when movie listings come up, they’re alphabetical. So I was thinking we should call it “Aardvark Lake.” It would be first on the list.
R: Call it “Abacus, Advantageous Lake.”
Well this is profundity that I wasn’t aware of.
A: Subconsciously, you will be aware. It’s all about how you feel the day after you see a movie. For me, my favorite movie experience is when I go to a movie by myself. I don’t have to engage with anybody, except with other people in the audience… and then you check in with yourself the next day and see what shifted.
R: Yes, I saw a movie recently in Belgium. I went on my own. I enjoyed some of it, didn’t enjoy part of it. And then spent the next couple of days thinking about it. It was called “Night Moves,” from Kelly Reichardt.