ANNA BILLER: LIFE OF A STAR

The address of your website is lifeofastar.com. Are these gorgeous films you make a catapult to stardom?
The name refers to the song Lucy sings in A Visit from the Incubus, which is called “Life of a Star.” The idea behind that song is that everyone wants to be a star. I guess that’s how I feel about my films – they’re kind of “fake” films, they are masquerading as old Hollywood Technicolor films and I’m masquerading as some kind of Jennifer Jones, but in the end it’s all pretend and make-believe. It’s a way of nodding to the fact that the films are about fantasy, about pretending. But I also think that everyone who works in the arts is interested in fame on some level, no matter how dry or minimal or small their work is, and the song is about that too.

How would you describe your style of filmmaking?
I like to make work that’s very rich in terms of how it looks and feels, like all of my favorite movies. I think movies are so much about sound and music and details of props and costumes and colors and textures, or at least they should be. I think of film as an art form rather than as a commercial business, and I make my films exactly as if they were paintings or sculptures, built by hand from the ground up. Jean Cocteau used to talk about a film as a table that had to have sturdy construction and had to be well made by good craftsmen, and I fully agree with him. Other than that, I guess you could say my style is old-fashioned because the shots and editing are so deliberate and the colors are so symbolic and iconic, and there’s a sense of pageantry and the acting is formal and mannered. But I’m not nostalgic as much as I am moved by film as an art form.

So then, are you a story person at all?
I have to confess, I used to be only interested in creating fabulous tableaux. But like any monster I’ve grown more monstrous through time and experience, and slowly narrative as a tool has begun to interest me more and more. I’m now beginning to see the usefulness of narrative structure, and how you can make an even more insane and subversive and visually strange film if you’re pretending to tell a real story. In “Three Examples of Myself as Queen” I have three narratives in 26 minutes, and in A Visit from the Incubus I have one continuous narrative in 26 minutes, and the longer narrative seems more powerful to people, so now I’m going to see what I can do with that.

Get the rest of the interview in part three of ANNA BILLER: LIFE OF A STAR>>>




Posted on June 11, 2004 in Interviews by

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