1. What was the budget?
Callback is a no-budget feature. Our goal was to get through production for under 5,000 euros. And we almost did. Had it not been for crashing the car, we would have stayed in that budget range. We took a setback on that one. But all told, even with post-production and marketing, we are still at about 10,000 euros or $13,000.
2. It says France-USA. Are you American or French?
This is an English language movie. I am American, but I have been based in Paris for 15 years. I arrived in France for film school and have been here ever since. But I am interested in reaching an American audience, hence the film shot in France, but in English.
3. So I won’t have to read subtitles in this movie?
I should warn you, there is one short scene in French, but it only lasts a couple of minutes. And it is subtitled.
4. You crashed a car?
Yes. And we were filming when the accident happened! No, the accident was not at all part of the story. And fortunately no one was hurt. You can read all about it in “No animals were harmed in the making of this movie, but a priceless German sportscar was”. The book details the making of Callback. The moral of the story for young filmmakers is this: get insurance and read the fine print to see what exactly gets covered. If you know you need something special or extra, negotiate to get it.
5. Is this a mumblecore movie?
No. Despite the low-budget of Callback, I just wanted to make a drama, not connected with the recent movement known as mumblecore. If people want to call it that, feel free. It was not my intention.
6. What were your influences?
John Cassavetes’ A Woman Under the Influence. And the Dogma films from Denmark, especially Open Hearts by Susanne Bier.
7. Was Callback a Dogma movie?
Not quite. We do use music. And we also had artificial light sources in the movie. And we picked costumes for the lead actors. If you removed these three points, we would qualify for Dogma status.
8. Is Enrico Felucci a reference to Fellini? To Bernardo Bertolucci?
Neither actually. It references one of my all time favorite films, Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life. In it, the Lana Turner plays an actress who lands a big role in the Enrico Felucci picture. She then has to decide if she is willing to give up everything to be in the movie. Not unlike what happens to Grace in Callback.
9. Why another movie about Hollywood?
There have been a lot of great films done about the movie business. Some of my favorites are The Player, Living in Oblivion, Swimming With Sharks, Bowfinger and True Romance. But when it came to Callback, I was not interested in dissecting or poking fun at Hollywood. What mattered most to me was to show what Hollywood represents for actors. It’s the ultimate stage. If you make a big splash there, you could have an amazing career. People know that, and not surprisingly, many are prepared to do any and everything necessary to land that role in a big Hollywood movie. All actors are not like Grace, but that type of actor is out there. I wanted to make a movie that honors the struggle, not just of those actors, but all actors.
10. Was there much improvisation?
I love the freedom that can come with improvisation, and I try to use it whenever I can. Though most of what you see is scripted, within that frame, there are times when the actors used their own words and it was exciting. When an actor is relaxed and really believes what is going on around him, the words that spontaneously come to him bring a truth that goes far beyong anything I could write. I am grateful to my actors for taking that journey and trusting me.
11. Any future projects?
I am in development on my second feature. And I recently received a public grant in France to make a short film dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. Beyond that, I continue acting when parts come my way, and I do a lot of script doctoring. And this fall will be my fourth year of mentoring high schoolers making their first short films.