Paranoid Park Gus Van Sant

Cannes Film Fest 2007–Gus Van Sant's new film, “Paranoid Park,” world-premieres in competition at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, where his previous two films, Elephant (2003) and “Last Days” (2005) bowed as well. “Elephant” won two major awards in Cannes: the top prize Palme d'Or and Best Director.

“Paranoid Park,” which is nominated for the 2007 Spirit Award, will be released by IFC in March 2008.

First Movie produced by MK2

It was really great experience working on the film with the French company MK2 as the producer partner.

Adapting a Novel

Blake Nelson's novel is set in Portland, which I always like. It was about amateur skateboarders, which was also interesting. The story was also about a particularly stifling predicament, which I found interesting.

Skateboarder Culture

The movie is not about that subculture. It's
about a kid's life and it shows how teens interact, or don't. But it doesn't take place in the skateboard world; it uses it as a backdrop.

Narrative Structure

I played with the story structure a lot. There are not many parts of the movie that are not from the book, but structurally, it is quite manipulated.

Casting

I recruited my actors via a MySpace.Com page. I think this is how all casting agencies would go about casting high-schoolers, especially now when My Space is so prevalent. We were like the others, just trying to figure out ways to get the word out to non-professional people to play in the film.

Quick Filmmaking

The last three films were similar in that their shooting schedules were all very short. Each of these films had about 18 days and cost about $3 million.

Shooting in Super 8 and 35mm

I decided to shoot both in Super 8 and 35mm, because the medium of skate film is super 8, and also video tape, and since we were using a little of this in our film, we shot some additional skate footage with super 8.

It is a lot harder to hold a larger camera while you are riding a skateboard. Also 35 is a medium that is too expensive for skate shooters to be using. Then the rest of our film is made in 35mm, the medium of choice for me.

Editing While Shooting

We tried not to overshoot so much. We were trying to narrow it down in both the screenplay area and also the plan. The idea was to make a movie right on the set, rather than waiting until you're in the editing room, where you shoot a whole bunch of angles and figure out later what's going to happen.

Cinematographer Chris Doyle

Chris Doyle is known for a very fast flying and free cinematography. He is not known for what would be called stable frame. Maybe that is because if the Wong Kar Wai period of the 1990s. When he first started shooting for Wong, they were quite stable, when they composed the framing, but got really loose as the films became less conservative.

I did try and push Chris into non-stable territory and wide-angle territory, also because of these later Wong films, particularly Fallen Angels. But Chris was a bit wary, saying, “Well, we don't want to repeat ourselves.” So what we have here is a new piece created by us that at times is unstable, as concerns the tripoid, its handheld, but only sometimes.

Many Styles

The movie has a lot of different styles in it. There's slow-motion, which I also encouraged, and came from my knowledge of later Wong films. But Chris Doyle also made “Lady in the Water,” which has a very stable framing. The skate world, however, is not known for stable framing, because that world is on wheels.

Sound System

The score, detailed as it may be, is mostly soundscapes by South/Music composers. The stuff that we have done as sound manipulators is pretty simple, but the soundscapes, largely by Ethan Rose, are quite complicated. It is sometimes the equivalent of us playing records along with the movie, but the music is made of less traditional music. The sound designer is Leslie Shatz.

Post-production

The post-production was not that intensive, and occurred over a couple of weeks.