Nathan Silver SOFT IN THE HEAD Director Interview
WORLD PREMIERE AT SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL! Thrown out of her New York City apartment, Natalia (Sheila Etxeberria) relies on the kindness of friends and strangers. Seemingly unaware of the havoc she wreaks, she skips from one place to another, including her best friend's, where she drunkenly crashes a holiday meal. Natalia ends up staying at a shelter run by genuinely good Maury, who takes an interest in making her life better -- but life is not that simple. Set on the cacophonous streets of New York, SOFT IN THE HEAD is a look at how easy it is to lose one’s head in the big city.
Independent Visions Competition Presented by Factory 25
Included Short: LYDIA HOFFMAN LYDIA HOFFMAN (15min)
Wed, 4/10 5:15 PM
Thu, 4/11 3:15 PM
SFF 2013: Tell us about the genesis of the story for SOFT IN THE HEAD. You are credited along with Kia Davis and Cody Stokes (who is also your cinematographer).
NATHAN SILVER: Two things shaped SOFT IN THE HEAD: my previous movie, EXIT ELENA, and my favorite book, THE IDIOT by Dostoevsky. With EXIT ELENA, I was able to work off an outline and develop the characters during rehearsals. As for THE IDIOT, I’d always wanted to adapt it but everything I put down on paper just didn’t do it for me. One day, I met this guy who resembled the main character in the book (Ed Ryan who plays Maury). That’s when it gelled. I didn’t care about the plot of the book; the characters are what got me. So I went about it in a similar fashion to EXIT ELENA: I cast the actors and rehearsed with them for months, then Kia and I sat down to write. Out of this, an outline emerged that had little-to-no resemblance to THE IDIOT, but it had life to it. Cody and I then rewrote scenes and restructured the movie during the shoot…we basically let the chaos of the shoot take over the story.
SFF 2013: What drew you, as a director, to THE IDIOT?
NATHAN SILVER: When you pick up the book, you want to believe you're like Prince Myshkin -- the main character who's a holy fool too kind for his own good. I hoped that by adapting the book, I'd become more Myshkin-like. For some reason, the fact that things go terribly wrong for him throughout never sunk in. In any case, there's really no resemblance between SOFT IN THE HEAD and THE IDIOT -- the book was just a jumping off point.
SFF 2013: What do you feel was the finest moment during the shooting? Be it a performance beat, or when it all came together visually for you as a director?
NATHAN SILVER: Going off the outline three days into shooting. It went down like this: one of the actors impulsively got up, walked out the door and brought an actor back into the scene, who was supposed to have left. Instead of cutting, we let it play out, and everyone miraculously went along with it. Suddenly the buzzer rang, and it was another actor who wasn’t even supposed to be in the scene. Upon entering the apartment, she realized that we were shooting and fell right into character. The scene lasted until the memory card filled up. With this completely unexpected revision, we were able to cut out a huge chunk of the story and figure out what SOFT IN THE HEAD was really about.
SFF 2013: Did you set out to treat New York as a character in the film?
NATHAN SILVER: Any story set in New York has to contend with the fact that it’s set in New York. What I like about this movie is that there are no establishing shots and much of it is in close-up, so anything that’s New York about it comes from the confined spaces, the characters themselves, and the cacophony on the soundtrack.
SFF 2013: What would be your dream project as a director?
NATHAN SILVER: If I were to make movies the way I see fit, no one would watch them; they'd be in them. I'd just put cameras everywhere and on everyone and have years of footage to edit.