We’ve taken a few minutes out to speak with director Grant Gee about his ‘cine-essay’ Innocence of Memories as it hits UK DVD shelves today. Read on to find out what inspired the film, the thought which went into its product and much more….
Would you like to give our readers some background on the film’s genesis?
I was in Istanbul a few years ago, and really feel in love with the place. I ended up reading Orhan Pamuk’s novel, The Museum of Innocence, while I was there, and it sort of became my guide to the city.
When did you hit on the idea of making the film as a mockumentary?
I wouldn’t call it a mockumentary, though, as I don’t think it’s mocking anything. I would think of a documentary as something like This Is Spın̈al Tap, something with satirical purpose. I thought of this film as more of a straightforward documentary.
Was there a concern that audiences might have trouble separating what’s factual in the film from what’s fictional?
No, I think that, in the same way that the novel tells a story that nonetheless takes place in the real Istanbul, and talks about real streets and real places in Istanbul, the film also does the same thing. The actual, real-life Museum of Innocence is a real museum, with real objects in it, and it’s using those objects to tell a story. The film does the same thing.
What differences did you notice making this film, compared to the work you’ve done in the past, such as music documentaries?
I don’t think there was much of a fundamental difference making it. Obviously it’s different, because the subject is different, but the process is much the same.
Was it difficult transferring the story from novel to film?
It wasn’t too difficult. We already had the topic for our film, which is the real-life Museum of Innocence, and everything came from there really.
Was there anything that you had to lose in making that transition?
Yes, about 360 pages. We focused only on the main plot from the novel, so there are all sorts of subplots that didn’t end up in the film.
What does the film gain, that the novel hasn’t got?
I think the film is more of a dream-like experience, whereas the novel is more of an epic.
In terms of cinematography, what were your reference points for the film?
It was all photography actually, I was looking at things like photographs of Paris, of deserted Paris, of Istanbul in the 70s…there weren’t any films that I was trying to emulate, only photographs.
How much did the film come together in the editing suite?
I think any film comes together in editing, especially with a documentary, where you haven’t got a script to follow. But there wasn’t anything particularly that we had to lose – we didn’t shoot very much, I’m not sure how many hours we shot, but it wasn’t a lot – it just becomes a question of creating the mood of the film.
What projects do you see in your future?
I’ve got another project that’s an adaptation of a novel – I’ve just heard some good news about that – which should come out next year, and I’ve got another project which is sort of psychogeographic, and that should come out this year.
Innocence of Memories arrives today (25th April) on DVD, will you be checking it out? Let us know in the comment box below!