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“Cinema Is A Language”- Director Kirill Mikhanovsky Discusses Give Me Liberty (The FH Interview)

27 min read

's  first appeared in 2019 at Sundance, and subsequently began its stint on the world festival circuit. Now two years later, the film remains on the circuit, most recently appearing at the Hebden Bridge Film Festival in the UK. An excellent, frenetic examination of a day in the life of medical transport driver Vic () in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it's a film that doesn't boast any major stars (in fact the vast majority of the cast hadn't done any acting before this), and revels in that lack of pretence. We discussed the film with Mikhanovsky, touching on what it was like to make the film itself, the importance of what it portrays, and how difficult it is to get a film like this distributed on a wide scale.

Kirill Mikhanovsky

Where did you get the idea for the film? How did you start to put it together?

In short, I used to drive a van like the one Vic drives in the film. I had a host of odd jobs as an immigrant. I had this stint for about nine months, it was quite a formative experience as a filmmaker and as a human being generally speaking. It was my small discovery of America, through the windows and doors of this medical transport vehicle. Driving around Milwaukee, taking people to and from medical appointments, developing relationships, being late, meaning well but ending up in trouble every now and then! It was a rather tragicomic experience, and often times heartbreaking to witness the unfairness of the world on a daily basis. I learned about life, learned about Milwaukee, learned about America, and I moved on but that experience stayed with me, I went back in my mind to that experience many a time, thinking of making a film about someone like myself.

I remember in 2006 I sat down to write about it, which took me as far as a co-production market in Berlin, which they invited me to attend with the material, but then it didn't go forward. Fast forward a number of years, I met Alice Austen (Mikhanovsky's co-screenwriter on the film), with whom I collaborated on a futuristic thriller, and in the process I kept going back to this story. At some point we decided to make a film set in Milwaukee and used my stories, and that experience as a starting point to craft something that is entirely fictional, although some of it echoes the experiences of my life. It isn't autobiographical, though it does use some techniques of documentary filmmaking, cinéma vérité filmmaking and so forth, but it is 100% fictional.

I wanted to ask about that naturalistic feel that you get from the film, kind of juxtaposed with your very snappy editing style, was that a conscious choice to bring a sense of urgency to it?

Well, there are a number of subjects that you touched upon there. First is the approach to shooting it, and second the process of editing, which deals with linguistics in an even more visceral way than shooting. By shooting you're creating a vocabulary, so to speak. Once you have a certain vocabulary, comprised of words and morphological parts, in editing you begin to construct it in different words and idioms and phrases. Those you combine to create sentences and ultimately a discourse. But to begin with shooting, much of what was done was done as a result of the predicament in which we found ourselves in October 2017, having fought very hard, tooth and nail for the film, which no one wanted to finance for various reasons.

Before we put a single line on paper we decided to make our film with non-actors and that of course reduces the interest in the film because it has no stars. We committed to making it in Milwaukee, and very few people, if any at all, wanted to make a film in Milwaukee, in a small town in America where little happens compared to LA or New York. To top that off, Wisconsin happened to be one of the few states, and still is, with no tax incentive for film-making. People would get no rebates for their investment.

After a while, we finally found a company in New York who picked it up, and took it to one of the major independent film players doing distribution and production, who loved the film. They loved the world. At the time, the film took place over the course of 8-10 days. I was in the process of doing something else, editing on another project that our company shot when Alice Austen took the script for a spin and turned this 8-10 day structure into one very busy day. That really helped the film and the script to become the toast of the town. We suddenly started getting letters from actors from all over the world telling us what an amazing piece of work it is and how much they wanted to star in the main role. We had a sit down with the company that basically gave us the go ahead, all we needed to do was to provide them with paperwork, budget, schedule etc. We got on the path of looking for actors, which went on for 8 months. At some point, for a number of reasons, they basically took us off their slate and we basically were on our own again in September or October of 2017. We were in the same place we were 2 and a half to 3 years before, which was devastating. We decided to make it no matter what because we were about to start losing our actors that we had cast and all our real life participants who were not young anymore. We simply understood that if we didn't shoot it that winter, we wouldn't ever shoot it and we would lose respect for ourselves and we would lose everything basically.

A few months later we were building still, we had enough money to put the film in the proverbial can and were still raising money as we went. We ended up shooting the film for a mere fraction of what we needed to honour the experience, so it was really brutal. The brutality of the process, the visceral brutality of it, informed the material with a very particular energy, we had very little time, it was very frenetic, and all of that was documented. The energy that we captured was what the viewer witnessed.

Once I was in the editing suite, we had a tight script of course that we followed as much as we could in the shortest possible time without hurting the film, but also a number of sequences were written for this cinéma vérité style of film-making which I am very familiar with. The first film I made [Sonhos de Peixe],  I made with non-actors in Brazil. It was a very positive experience and this is why I suggested that for this one as well. And also, some directing is on paper and quite a bit of directing involves working with the actors. They bring something with them of course. For example, it was Lauren ‘Lolo' Spencer's first role (she plays Tracy in the film), and she brought a lot in her body language and her personal experience. That informs the material quite a lot. The same goes for other actors, all of them bring something from their story, and of course when you're working with non-actors, the whole point of working with them is because they do bring something of their own, something that one can often not even think of writing. Once I was in the editing suite, it was one of the more painful experiences I've had in my life, because every day I thought I didn't have it and every scene was a disaster, and I was ready to throw my arms up and give up. Editing is not cutting, it's not about snappiness, it's about linguistics.

Cinema is a language, first and foremost, technically speaking, it's a language to communicate particular human experience. Given the frenetic, little prepared nature of the experience captured, which I wouldn't call accidental or coincidental, there was a certain element of unpredictability in what we were doing of course, and not everything was ‘perfect'. Once I was in the editing room I looked at the material, and I would equal it to having a bag of goodies,  but just not quite knowing what exactly the goodies were in there. So I had to go through this vocabulary and basically invent a language , one that was hidden and I had to find. Finding the language means I didn't invent a style, I didn't choose from various options, I believe in only one option, and when you have material that intense with that little preparation and such a small budget and so many loose cannons so to speak, non-actors who never repeat the same thing twice, it's not that easy, and when you're speeding through the city at 95mph with 12 octogenarians freezing in a heatless van for 8 hours, none of whom had ever acted before, and you're shouting out certain commands that they can barely hear because of the loud rattle of the van, you end up with very interesting material.

And so I had only one option, and I had to look for it. That led to the optimal way of cutting it based on the material I had. Interestingly, speaking of the speed and the main character. It helped to save the material, and salvage it, but it also worked ideologically for the picture. So this was the genesis for this style. It ended up, not because I'm such a great inventor, but it ended up being quite a cinematic statement. In my opinion, linguistically speaking, this is a sophisticated experience, deceptively simple, but quite sophisticated although again I can't credit myself for that entirely, but rather the circumstances and the material. Of course we are all active participants in that, and it doesn't get lost on me, I appreciate that you noticed it too.

The editing contributes massively to the frenetic, chaotic energy throughout the film, especially when you're juggling so many narratives and stories.

It's polyphonic in all senses, throughout the movie. Our main character juggles a lot of pieces and drops some of them. He can afford it, but we could not afford to drop any pieces making it! Interestingly, directing is about control and I had very little of that because of the circumstances in which we were making the film, creatively speaking and budget wise. It is in the editing where we have most control, importantly. And once you have that control you have no excuse to not do it well, right? Because no one is rushing you, you may not be happy with the material you have but nobody is rushing you and your job is to figure it out.

So editing was my directing, as much as directing in prep and on the set. Editing was my possibility to finally control the material and the language. I came out of the experience with gratitude for our crew, for our cinematographer and our soundperson, all the people involved, who allowed me to have enough material to play with and construct something complete that we are all proud of. Lots of gratitude.

On a related note, you do get excellent performances out of the cast, how did that work? Did you have them talk a lot and only capture some of it in the film, or was it a more structured process?

Well, we didn't have the opportunity to let them talk a lot, if we had more time I would have let them! Although I doubt it would make my job editing it easier. We did have limited time and things needed to be delivered.

First of all, they're brilliant. Someone was asked the same question and they just said ‘I work with brilliant actors' and I know there is a certain degree of to that, and it's a funny and humble comment. Of course, the director plays a role in the process but our performers did happen to be quite brilliant, and we were truly blessed with that. They were wonderful, I have so much love and respect for Lauren ‘Lolo' Spencer, Maxim Stoyanov (Dima), Chris Galust (Vic), all of them. Those who are not actors are quite brilliant, and this is why we cast them, they were able to be their organic selves in front of the camera which is quite a blessing and not all people are capable of that.

Lolo was the first person we saw and was the one we really fell in love with. She is actually a full-time editor, or used to be, and is also doing occasional modelling. She didn't do much acting before this, but on her youtube channel she had done a few public speeches so she had previous experience performing in front of audiences. Nevertheless, it was her first major role, and we communicated quite a bit via Skype. However, we had never met prior to the shoot. She arrived one day before her first scene, which was her throwdown fight with Vic, the driver. The shouting match they have before the accident, and she nailed it, she came prepared, she knew every line and actually that scene was one of the few that was precisely scripted, or rather delivered as it was precisely scripted, line by line. There were a few scenes like that, and it was lovely to see how the page translates to the screen. I'm always curious about that. It never fails to surprise me, there's a certain magic in that.

But yeah, she was wonderful as an actress. She was almost a tonesetter, every time she would arrive and be in a scene, I just knew the scene would be better. It was quite magical, I adore her. I call her our kind genius. Then Max Stoyanov is a Russian actor, a big bulky guy, and I really love the fact that a lot of people think that he is a non-actor. I told him that and he as a professional actor was not that happy with that comment! He'd rather have the comment that he's a really good actor. But he's so good, dammit, people don't even know he's an actor!

It took us about a year and a half to two years to find him, which happened with the help of a casting director in Moscow. It took us such a long time to finally get the movie off the ground that by the time we teamed up with the company that ended up not working with us, a new generation of actors came into existence. After a couple of years of communicating back and forth, she sends me a new batch of actors. I look at the photograph of this gentleman, and just his smile helped me to know that this was the guy. We had a Skype session with our American partners in New York, he was in Moscow, and he talked to us for about 30 minutes, and everybody fell in love with him. Fast forward one year, he arrives and we realise he doesn't speak a word of English! How did he trick us? It was incredible. He told us he did! He does now actually,  but just like any other actor, he is a con artist as they should be, and he'll do anything to get a role.

The day he got the script, he took the script to a friend of his, they spent half the night translating it and in the morning he said it was the role of his life, he needed to have it, and he got it. He got so excited after he arrived in New York, so excited about being in America that a few days later we lost track of him and we found him a few days after that in some hotel in Boston. He did not remember how he got there, he found enough sense in him to call me and we had friends, Alice had a family member who helped him. He ended up in Boston with a terrible cold, Alice's relative brought him chicken broth, found him there and sent him on his way to Milwaukee. We locked him up here and basically worked with him for a month, just trying to get him broken in to his language and walk around and get a sense of Midwestern America. That proved to be very helpful. He was one of the two actors in the whole film and it helped enormously. For him it was a new and unusual experience. He wasn't used to this type of work, being lost among non-actors and pretending like he was nobody. It really demanded a bit of resilience from him, it was a great experience. Oftentimes he needed to know his motivation and I would tell him ‘just live, just be', which was unusual for him. I just told him to find something to do, and don't deliver your lines, but live your lines while you're doing something in the frame. At first it was uncomfortable but pretty soon he got the hang of it. He admitted to me many times that there were moments he had no idea what was going on and he had no idea what the film would end up being, but when he saw it on the big screen, he was quite moved, quite impressed. Now we are best friends and he is wonderful, I really want him to succeed.

Chris Galust turned out to be the hardest thing to find. Having an actor in every frame of the film ought to be the hardest thing to cast, but I had a previous film where I hired a young fisherman of 18, a great diver, and I knew I would be working with a non-actor, but when we arrived, we found that actor on the very first day of our arrival. It was that fast. Took one second. I saw his face, and his body, and I knew it was the guy. On this one, worked with Jennifer Venditti, who is credited for casting a number of films (American HoneyUncut Gems) and many other things. She is a brilliant all-round human being with an unmatched flare for life in humans. So we went street casting, and it took her 5 weeks, her and her team, to find Chris Galust. They went straight to the Russian area of New York, and were becoming quite despondent when finally towards the end of a day they saw this group of young men, and among them was Chris. They liked him and heard him speaking perfect English, which was strike one, and followed them into a Russian bakery where they heard him order a cake in perfect Russian, strike two! They approached him out of the bakery, he was holding a cake to commemorate the anniversary of his grandfather's 25th year of being in America, so he's sort of the poster boy for this movie! We approached him and said that is what we're doing, we're looking for someone like you, would you be interested? And he laughed it off beautifully. As he later confessed to us, he thought we were making a XXX movie, so he dismissed it and ruled it out, but they pursued, and went after him. He agreed to a meeting, and one meeting led to another. We spoke quite extensively with Jennifer Vinditti who found him very interesting, she loved him.

I didn't like him as much, when I saw him I found him to be too good-looking, I really wanted someone much rougher around the edges and with some mileage. To me he was just a young guy who everyone would be rooting for and it was too easy, too much of a matinee idol kind of look. But now when I look at the film I can't imagine anyone else and it worked out beautifully.  We had to make our decisions, and we did, we went with him. He proved to be a godsend and a beautiful human being. Very kind, every bit as kind as the main character, but also complex like the character.

He is a talented actor, though he had never acted before. Half way through the movie we realised we had not been in a single accident, or even close to one, and we realised then that the guy was a brilliant driver. We gave him a stunt driving credit in addition to his acting credit because what we didn't realise was that he was a van driver because he a full time electrician, in fact, two days after the premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, he went straight back to being an electrician in Brooklyn. So we had this Harrison Ford type situation, but he had it the hardest truly because he had to drive safely, at high speed, make turns, often times while I was shouting, and deliver lines in a beautiful way and for him it was really hard to do all of these things with pretty much no rehearsal. Originally I planned for Chris to be on the ground to break in and to live with the old man who was gonna play his grandfather in the apartment, work for that company, become Victor and then naturally segue into the process of making the film, but we ended up having only 8 days with him before the film, and of those days I literally had one hour with him in a coffee shop where I broke down the character to the wide-eyed Chris, who didn't understand anything at that time, but he went on to the company to learn the ropes of being a driver of a medical transport van, and then the next time we met was on the set. The guy had no preparation so he had to learn the ropes of everything as the shooting went. He really had the hardest time. At the end of the shoot he would drive Lolo in the van, and drive her back to her hotel. Her and her assistant Erica, to her hotel after shooting, so he basically had one and a half jobs. We actually wanted to drive the van to Sundance but it was just too run down. We did rent a van for Lolo at Sundance and Chris ended up driving the van there!

Chris Galust as Vic

Sounds like a film in itself, this whole process!

One of my biggest regrets is not making…we didn't have the manpower or resources for the making of film, which I regret. It would probably be too scary for me to watch, frankly, and embarrassing perhaps, in equal measure, and of course it's better to have a movie…but the making of I think would be riotously funny, much funnier, possibly as good as the movie, and possibly even better! Simply because of how unaware we were of certain things. When you're running for your life, you're certainly not thinking of how you dressed and what your facial expression is, so I think the camera would catch us at our most natural!

As part of his job in the film, Vic works with a number of disabled people, including Tracy, among many others. I think the film does a good job of portraying disabled people in a really sincere way. You don't attempt to make them props in Vic's story, and instead they feel like well rounded, complex people. I wanted to ask about how much of that was deliberate and how much of that came out because of the way that you shot the film?

Well, we received this comment a number of times, and people would ask how we managed not to cross the line, or how we managed to walk that line so finely. It's a puzzling one because we walked no line. Manohla Dargis said after Sundance that it was a matter of fact treatment of the human condition. The fact of the matter is, we didn't have to worry about that because you love and respect who you work with so no lines are there to be crossed to begin with. From the get-go we decided to work with non-actors, and that means all kinds of actors or non-actors in this case.

Put simply, people with disabilities are simply real people, that's all. Someone commented that we let people be themselves in the frame and that's exactly what we did, they are being themselves. Actors with disabilities are incredible in our film, and were incredible to work with. I never had an easier time, or a more wonderful time. It's a fact, they're brilliant. Steve Wolski, who plays the nonverbal character of the film that Lolo Spencer's character is trying to take for an appointment and who ends up staying for the ride, which culminates with the sit down at the wake table, his timing was absolutely brilliant. He would just stand by and just listen in as I was explaining things to the actors, always understood what was going on. A wonderful actor and team player. He elevated the film to heights I couldn't possibly have imagined.

We didn't treat actors with disabilities as people with disabilities, we treated them as real people being themselves, and that's how they ended up coming across. Alice and I spent a lot of time at the Eisenhower centre for work and training for people with disabilities. You learn very quickly that they themselves treat each other quite irreverently, and they are quite ruthless with each other with their jokes and commentary. There's no precious treatment of each other and the world, it's reality for them. The only way to show respect to them is by not treating them specially or preciously, they are real people, and one must have respect for real people and be with them the way you are with everyone else. That is our duty. If you have a heart, and it is impossible to make a film like this without a heart, you end up being friends with all the people in the frame. It was a natural process, nothing special went into our work with actors with disabilities. We treated them like everyone else, which is with respect and love.

It takes a little more time to do certain thing of course. When you work with non-actors, prepare to spend more time, and that was no exception with actors with disabilities, but that's the same with every non-actor. You need a little bit more time, you can't just snap into action and say we should quickly do another one. It's not gonna be quick, but there will be another one. Michelle [Caspar], our singer in the van who ended up performing Rock Around the Clock, Michelle did many takes of that and other things, and it was never a problem and she delivered all of them brilliantly.

Everyone in the frame in the movie has their own take on the human condition. They bring that experience of being themselves to the frame and we are grateful and honoured to be trusted with that. It was not an issue film or a social issue film, or a political statement. I am a film-maker first and foremost, I am interested in making interesting, original cinematic experiences, that's all I want, and if somebody interprets this as a social issue or political issue film, it's up to them, it's okay, it's out there and can be interpreted in any possible way, but it was not a political film.

Maybe partly, this is why it didn't get as much attention as in my opinion it should've. A number of people predicted that we wouldn't even be considered for Sundance because it was not political enough or didn't treat people with disabilities with more care than we did, however those predictions fell short because they didn't calculate for someone as brilliant as Kim Yutani who is the head of programming at Sundance and the senior curators of the festival who all fell in love with the film. Kim Yutani found it to be one of the more original pieces she had seen and was a great champion of it so we were again very blessed but I wouldn't have been shocked if the film got completely overlooked, precisely because we were focused not on a political statement but on creating life in the frame, in a more subtle way, a more real way, a more matter of fact way. It was a very positive experience for me, incredibly positive, inspiring. I would work with non-actors again, and with non-actors with disabilities. In fact, we're working right now on a number of things that again involve non-actors, real people, and some of them will be non-actors with disabilities.

That doesn't mean that Alice and I are not creating other pieces for actors only, but nevertheless, the making of Give Me Liberty didn't put a wet blanket on that technique. We can still work with that and there's something to say for that, it's difficult but it's possible.

Lauren ‘Lolo' Spencer as Tracy

It's great to talk about representation earnestly and how you portrayed your disabled characters as people in themselves rather than some way of attempting to score points.

Well the thing is, in Lauren ‘Lolo' Spencer's case, she was diagnosed with ALS when she was 14 and it really shaped her and the way she looks at the world. She is a survivor, she is brilliant at surviving and one of the loveliest human beings I know. She has more optimism, hard earned optimism in her than most of the people I know. When she is in the frame I forget that she has a , and it doesn't matter really. I feel for her not because she has a disability, but because she's a human, and that's the idea. ‘Yes, I have this condition, this is how I walk or this is how I talk, but I still want to live to the fullest, I still want to get from point A to point B, I still am in love or looking for love, and I'm still gonna do what I'm gonna do.' That's the idea, they just happen to have that condition. The people happened to be in the frame because our driver happened to have that job. The film didn't start from the idea of actors with disabilities, that was not the idea. All non-actors followed the experience of someone driving a van from different parts of one of the most segregated cities in America, connecting the disconnected. Putting people together in the same space, the way that's rarely been seen in real life, but the van literally and figuratively is the vehicle to connect pieces that rarely get in touch with each other. And it happens to be that he's the driver for people who cannot get from point A to point B and who need help doing so. First and foremost though, they are people.

Disability comes as just a complication of their life on earth. Everyone has complications, they have that. I think we need to get almost past that, and deal with people as people to honour them. That is the greatest respect that we can give to people with disabilities, if we basically treat them as human beings first and foremost, and that's why we never crossed any lines. Their desires, their personalities come first. That's how they treated each other and themselves, and they want to just be, obviously their perception of the world is shaped by their condition, but they are alive, just another life, like all of us. We forget truly that they have that condition, we see them for their inner self.

I think that is documented quite beautifully in the party scene. They were not acting there, they were being happy and dancing. That gives me goosebumps every time I watch it.

The other thing I wanted to touch on is the immigrant experience that you portray in the film. I think every child of immigrant parents has had that rant that Vic gets from his mum about travelling to a foreign country and you not making the most of it, and I was wondering whether that was something that you always wanted to portray. That experience of being in a country where you're kind of being pulled in two different directions: one by the place you live, and the other by your family.

In terms of the immigrant experience, I'm an immigrant so of course I knew what I was talking about, but it's the same with disability, everybody comes with an experience. We wanted to enrich the world with diverse characters to make it more complex and interesting. At the end of the day, issue or not, whatever it is that you're trying to do, it's important to make a film that is not boring, let's put it this way. That is somewhat original and exciting. It doesn't need to be frenetic, fast-paced or highly kinetic, it can be as still as a Yasujiro Ozu whom I adore, with a fixed frame and a 5 minute long take, but it must be exciting and original and entertaining in the royal sense of the word. We wanted to make something that would be interesting to watch, and not boring. It just so happened to be populated with exciting characters that we love. But there is also craft, where you need to construct a plot that works and moves forward and develops, bringing characters that are exciting to watch, and fascinating, deeply moving. Again, no issues. It's all about survival, we are all trying to survive. I don't think anyone is really comfortable in this world, frankly. I really believe that everyone has a struggle. There are different struggles.

I would never look at someone who is more comfortable than me and wish I was them, that would be wrong. I know that everyone suffers and everyone's pain is the biggest. That's my view of things. I think the idea that everyone has something to bear, we are all on a journey and we have to get from point A to point B and then from B to C, and we'll fight for it and we just need to make sure that we need to make sure that we are not hurting anyone around it, that's all.

It must have been nice to get some awards recognition as well with the Independent Spirit Award nominations and the win you got as well. How was that experience?

For a film that was made for under $500,000 with no star power and no clear political statement and no advertising money behind it was quite remarkable and we are so grateful for that. We are grateful to Kim Yutani and the Independent film committee who actually screened all the films and found our film interesting enough to nominate 4 times.

Is there a UK distributor for the film yet?

No, as far as I know. I communicated briefly with one of the companies but their interest didn't peak. Then I communicated with another and something didn't work out there either. The world of distribution is very tough, screens and space is limited. The film doesn't have the star power it needs to naturally gain more visibility for the audiences looking for stars and it doesn't have the shock value it might have had without stars that could have attracted an audience. Commercially speaking it falls a little between chairs. It's not extremely highbrow to be categorised as an arthouse statement because it's very dynamic and has a genre element to it and it is deceptively accessible, and yet not enough to be an immediate attention grabber. Some people look for easier forms of entertainment and they find the first 15 minutes rather disorienting with all the shouting and the foreign language use. They don't know the main character, the purpose, the goal, the message, all of that. It ended up being a love/hate kind of movie, and that's okay because that's what it is. It has its own destiny and it is fully realising it, we accepted it and we are grateful for that.

Louise Wadley [Hebden Bridge Film Festival director] was very optimistic about it and she hopes that it is just a matter of time before it has a distributor in the UK. I am optimistic in this direction as well and not all is lost. England is an incredible citadel of culture and I'm sure at the right time the moment will come and it will have its limited run. In the meantime I am glad we are discussing it and you watched it, it's another miracle in a chain of miracles. I'm sure it'll happen. The greatest miracle is that the film exists and people recognise it. Not everyone, but enough to keep it alive. For that I am grateful and my partner Alice Austen is as well. People in the frame get recognised, in fact, our star Lauren ‘Lolo' Spencer just got cast as a regular character on HBO (on Mindy Kaling's upcoming show The Sex Lives of College Girls). They watched the film, loved her in it and invited her to make a small appearance in it, but they loved her so much they made her a regular!  She was so thrilled, she sent me a message and everyone else. I called her and we had a great conversation a few days ago, I'm so thrilled for her.

Just finally, we touched on it a little bit. What are you working on for the future?

Alice Austen and I are working right now on a piece that is as dense as Give Me Liberty and perhaps even more so. We are gonna be working with familiar elements but nevertheless on a completely unfamiliar journey. It's exciting and it's very difficult to do exactly that. Bring all these elements but not be precious about them. Let them breathe, let them live their own life and not feel the strong ideological hand of the maker behind them. That's the idea. It's exhilarating.

We also have a noir thriller set in the Bay Area in the 1950s, something inspired by some family experiences of Alice's, and a number of other things, the idea being to create a pipeline of projects that will keep us busy for some time, and now is the time. In fact, this past year has been very difficult for all of course, but it also created the possibility to work nonstop and start generating material, something we didn't have much time to do before. Overall right now we have about 12 projects in all that we are actively working on, in various stages of development from acquiring rights to books to fully sketched out screenplays. We are ready to go, full speed. Planting a lot of seeds, waiting for them to sprout. About four of the projects are based in Milwaukee, and we are happy to be working here, it's a great location, a one of a kind place on earth with a lot of life to it and a lot of possibilities for great cinematic experiences.

Give Me Liberty is available in the USA and selected other countries, across various platforms. It is still awaiting a distributor in the UK.

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