With their shared backgrounds in documentary and photography, Shatzky and Cassidy’s sometimes unbearably intimate storytelling is heightened by a strong visual sensibility and a keen eye for the haunting close-up. The pair spoke with BAMcinématek about their search for emotional authenticity in cinema, their artistic inspirations, and their collaborative relationship.
Francine screens at BAMcinemaFest on Friday, June 22 at 7pm. The Patron Saints screens on Monday, June 25 at 7pm. Melanie Shatzky and Brian M. Cassidy will be in attendance for Q&As at both films.
What drives you to make films?
|Photograph by Robin Holland|
What films have served as inspiration in your work?
Melanie: I'm particularly interested in films that seem to get at something real. Films that are intimate and bring me closer to a person’s sense of emotionality. I like films where loneliness and dread are embraced, films where I can witness the creative ways in which people pull themselves up from their own sense of desperation. My favorites are Dog Days (Ulrich Seidl), Léolo (Jean-Claude Lauzon), and Fiona (Amos Kollek).
Brian: I tend to be drawn to work, film or otherwise, that has a severity, but which also lets in light. I was listening to a lot of choral and spiritual music, delta blues and also heavy, drone metal music while making both of these films. I recently watched Begotten by E. Elias Merhige, which I liked… Sombre by Phillipe Grandrieux and the writing of J.M.Coetzee also comes to mind.
What are some of the challenges you faced while making Francine?
Time was our biggest challenge. We had a very tight shooting schedule and an ambitious number of unique locations in the film, which meant that we were always on the move and often had to think very quickly. The logistical realities of our time frame required us to locate the heart of the scene almost instantly, and then really go after it.
The Patron Saints?
How do you work together as a husband-and-wife directing team and as co-founders of your own production company, Pigeon Projects?
We both have a hand in almost every part of the process and look to each other for confirmation during the various stages of a film’s development. We operate out of the conviction that both of us want to see the same end result on screen and that we each provide a necessary component to help get it there. Sharing in the various successes and failures together is also good, since we can experience the highs together and the lows don’t get so low. It’s a marriage, through and through.