After the Telluride Film Festival premiere of his latest film, I had the opportunity to sit down and interview director Mark Romanek for a long-form interview. It was a collaboration between Alex from FirstShowing and myself, which explains how we were able to get so much time with the filmmaker.
Mark Romanek is one of the best music video directors to come out of the 1990’s. His videos have included Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer”, “Scream” – Michael Jackson’s grammy award winning collaboration with sister Janet Jackson (at $7 million, one of the most expensive music video ever made), Janet Jackson’s “Got ‘Til It’s Gone”, Johnny Cash’s gut-wrenching cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”, En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind”, Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way”, Beck’s “Devil’s Haircut”, Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” and Fiona Apple’s “Criminal”. His 2002 feature film One Hour Photo is probably best known for Robin Williams’ dramatic turn. While the film is beloved by cinephiles, it pretty much went under the radar of mainstream audiences. It did however gain Romanek a lot of the respect in the movie industry. His follow-up, a big screen adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro‘s novel Never Let Me Go, premiered at the 37th Telluride Film Festival. The book was named one of TIME’s 100 Best Novels (from 1923 to the Present), featured on many top ten books of 2005 lists, and a finalist in the National Book Critic Circle Award.
After the jump is part one of the chat, where we talk about the director’s influences, how he became a music video director, his long journey back to feature filmmaking, and what it took to create his latest movie, Never Let Me Go.
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Briefly: The BFI London Film Festival is getting a little bigger every year. Last year it was given a push when Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox debuted at the fest. This year, the festival will open on October 13 with the European premiere of Mark Romanek‘s new film Never Let Me Go, which adapts the novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro.
That isn’t the film’s world premiere, as it will first bow at the Toronto International Film Festival, but it’s a good booking for the London fest regardless. Doesn’t hurt that there’s a lot of British talent on board, among them screenwriter Alex Garland and cast Andrew Garfield, Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley. (The film will already be open in the US by the time of this showing; it hits Stateside screens on September 15, right after the TIFF premiere.)
There’s a solid if low-key buzz on the film, which looks like a lush, smart take on Ishiguro’s novel, even if some of the marketing might be trying to trick us into thinking it’s a bit more overtly sci-fi than the film likely is. Regardless, can’t wait to see this one; check out the trailer if you haven’t already.
I hadn’t seen a proper projection of the trailer for Mark Romanek‘s new film, Never Let Me Go, until I sat through the Trailer Park exhibition in Hall H at the San Diego Comic Con. Talk about weird — Romanek’s very quiet movie was sandwiched in between a lot of big-ticket films, and the contrast was pretty striking. (Plus, it was amusing to hear nearly the entire hall whisper ‘that’s the new Spider-Man,’ not when Andrew Garfield‘s face was shown, but when his credit was written on screen.)
Now there’s a new poster for the film, and the image captures some of the idea of hope and escape that permeates the latter half of the trailer. Read More »
Mark Romanek is currently on location in the UK town of Clevedon, North Somerset, filming his melancholy sci-fi mystery Never Let Me Go with Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and just about every other great British actor currently in their 20s. In case you do not yet know, it was adapted by Alex Garland – who previously scripted 28 Days Later and a draft of the proposed Halo film – from a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.
As well as a video clip snooping on a scene being shot (which you can see hosted on a BBC website but was not designed so that it might be embedded elsewhere) several paparazzi-style pictures have appeared here and there, showing the filming taking place and, as ever, the actors standing about between takes. I’ve put some after the break as well as some every basic, and not very spoilery, information to help you contextualise them.
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Mark Romanek has signed on to direct a big screen adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro‘s novel Never Let Me Go. According to Production Weekly, Beach author and 28 Days Later/Sunshine screenwriter Alex Garland penned the adaptation.
Romanek is probably best known for his music video work. He directed the video for Michael and Janet Jackson’s “Scream” in 1995, a sci-fi themed video which won the 1996 Grammy for Best Music Video, and to date, is still the most expensive music video ever produced ($7 million). His other videos include Closer for Nine Inch Nails, Criminal for Fiona Apple, Devil’s Haircut for Beck, and Johnny Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”.
In 2002, he made a wonderful indie thriller called One Hour Photo, which starred Robin Williams as an photo lab employee who becomes obsessed with a young suburban family (if you haven’t seen it, netflix it!). Romanek was originally attached to dieect The Wolf Man for Universal but dropped out for undisclosed reasons. The official book description follows:
“From the acclaimed author of The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, a moving new novel that subtly reimagines our world and time in a haunting story of friendship and love. As a child, Kathy–now thirty-one years old–lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory. And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fueled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed–even comforted–by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham’s nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood–and about their lives now. A tale of deceptive simplicity, Never Let Me Go slowly reveals an extraordinary emotional depth and resonance–and takes its place among Kazuo Ishiguro’s finest work.”
The book was named one of TIME’s 100 Best Novels (from 1923 to the Present), featured on many top ten books of 2005 lists, and a finalist in the National Book Critic Circle Award. For those interested, you can buy the softcover for only $11.20 on Amazon.