How did this project came about ?
At first, I just wanted a regular setting like a cafe?. I wanted it to be a normal place where normal people are confronted with something strange. The idea that I had in mind for this story was based on two characters: "Stacy", the waitress of the cafe? and the "man from nowhere. " These two can change the future and influence the past. I was influenced by Tim Burton's drawings, which led me to integrate "The Boy" into the story as a sort of "stain boy," taking the blame for all the traumas of childhood. I wanted the story to take place in the middle of nowhere, The California desert seemed appropriate. We added a techie Sci-Fi element to the plotline to incorporate a bit of today's world into the story and came up with " The Application Cafe?."
How did you approach such a different topic as this one?
Once we know that "The Man" can change people's lives, we begin to look at everyone who sets foot in this cafe? differently. This knowledge creates as sense of impending danger as well as discomfort heightened by the characters' unawareness of the fate awating them. A brave woman who takes charge, a man with powers we cannot see, and an "autistic" boy who has mysterious panic attacks are the heart of the story. These people are immersed in this bizarre environment, a sort of "Cafe? Nowhere".
How did you create the character of «The Man»?
He probably comes from the future. He has a mission that consists of preparing people for the future by either changing their path or helping them die. There is a totalitarian side to him and he is a manipulator as well. There are contradictory and .... even pathological aspects to his personality. His attraction to Stacy, the owner of the cafe?, tears him apart. There is something very disturbing between those two and it throws them off track.
How did you prepare for this film?
I visited several places and I found this unique spot that had already been used by Denis Hopper. I also went to visit the old Bagdad Cafe? (famous Percy Adlon's location) but Hopper's set was closer to what I was looking for. It was several months of preparation while I was composing music scores for film too. How did you choose what actors to cast? The advantage of living in Los Angeles is that practically everyone is an actor. However, you can lose yourself because of it. I did the regular casting following recommendations of friends and directors. I even recast two characters one week before the shoot.
How do you work with your actors?
I started by having them do cold readings and then rehearsals. For me, rehearsals are the key to making a movie. You have to breathe in the character's essence before the chaos of filming begins. Just like in music, actors are instruments too. You just have to find the right approach and your actors will respond and make your story organic.
How do you work with your technicians?
There was mutual trust between the team and myself. I had storyboards and a shot list prepared long before we started shooting. After that, it was simply a matter of following the tide. I was always well-prepared, though. I never made any leaps of fate. In music, it is a matter of answering the musician's questions and it is the same on a film set. You have to know where you're going and make quick decisions. I had no problems in that regard.
The cafe?'s decoration was borrowed from the mythology found in American cinema? Was that important for you?
I grew up in Europe with that image of America. It's a dream but inaccurate as well since we only saw images. America changes once you live there but that vision you once had still stays with you, propelling you to create. Wim Wenders and Antonioni made the same trip, in the same desert. I'm not implying that I'm at their level but they started the same way and their approach to filmmaking has influenced me. I like this European view of America because I recognize myself in it. Sharing a set with Dennis Hopper is only part of the mythology as well as working with good American actors like Eric Von Stroheim's granddaughter (Alena Von Stroheim/Mary).
What defines your visual style?
I like to frame and organize what is going on within the image. I am a fan of contemporary and pop art. That is how I was influenced visually and musically. That is why I look for those lines; those colors like a painter would do even if I dislike the way a painting is represented on the big screen. I am more interested in the ambiance or the atmosphere. I love the great "picture framers" like Kurosawa, David Lean. Sergio Leone or even Pan Nalin, with whom I?ve worked with several times.
As a composer, what is your relationship to the music in this film?
I learned while making this film that composer and film director use completely different parts of their brain. We are on two different planets. It is interesting to experience both sides this time. It was a challenge to go from one to the other but I think it would be the same for various other kinds of discipline, like painting for example.