Peter Strickland, director of THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY and BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO, talks about being a filmmaker:
At the start of my career my work was met with complete indifference. When I worked in WH Smiths in Reading I remember one of the managers asking me what I wanted to do for my career and I told him I wanted to make movies and he burst out laughing. That’s a better form of motivation than film school. But it was great to have that positive response to Berberian especially when I thought no one would like the film. I wouldn’t say they’re autobiographical films but they are very personal. That’s the thing, as long as you make personal films, even if no one else likes them, I like them. I think filmmaking has to be a selfish act otherwise you’d go nuts. There’d be nothing worse than making a film for other people and finding out even they don’t like it. I’m fully aware this is a niche film and not for everyone but in my mind it’s a love
“I decided that the camera should never stop moving. It was arbitrary. We would just put the camera on a dolly and everything would move or pan, but it didn’t match the action; usually it was counter to it. It gave me that feeling that when the audience see the film, they’re kind of a voyeur. You’re looking at something you shouldn’t be looking at. Not that what you’re seeing is off limits; just that you’re not supposed to be there. You had to see over someone’s shoulder or peer round someone’s back. I just think that in so many films everything’s so beautiful, the lighting is gorgeous and with each shot everything is relit. My method also means you don’t have to light for close-ups; you only have to accommodate what may happen, so you just light the scene and it saves a lot of time. The rougher it looked, the better it served my purpose.
I was worried about the harsh light of southern California and I wanted to give the film the soft, pastel look you see on old postcards from the 1940s. So we post-flashed the film even further than we did on McCabe & Mrs Miller, almost 100 percent.”