Tuesday, September 21, 2010

An Interview with Ariel Schulman, co-director of "Catfish"

Schulman (second from left) (src)

"Catfish" opened in New York City on September 17 and it will expand to more cities.

Flick Pick Monster: What is the significance of the title “Catfish”?

Ariel Schulman: The reason for the title becomes clear at the end of the movie. I don't want to give it away here, but I will say it's significance to the story came as a total surprise to me. I’ve never heard the word catfish used in this way.

FPM: What was it about Nev’s and Megan’s communications that made you want to make this film?

AS: It was actually Nev’s relationship with Megan’s little sister Abby that made me want to start filming. She was 8 and totally inspired by his photography, inspired enough to paint from his photos every night and send them to him. And the paintings were good[;] that's plenty of reasoning to start making what I thought would be a short film.

FPM: What would you say to those who say that the film was made-up?

AS: We’re not smart enough to make all this up.

FPM: Reader Cristina Acuna asks: Why film any of it to begin with? Why is nothing private anymore?

AS: It's my brothers life and he is my muse, I love watching him and filming him. I'd tell Cristina Acuna that there is in fact plenty of private footage she will never see.

FPM: Was the reason that you collaborated with Henry Joost that you were his art director? Describe this partnership.

AS: I was Henry’s art director on “New York Export: Opus Jazz.” We trade off roles depending on the project. We’re like ham and eggs, perfect together. But sometimes you just want two helpings of eggs.

FPM: What was “Jerry Ruis, Shall We Do This?,” your short film with Joshua Safdie? You were also his art director on “Daddy Longlegs” and on others of his films, as well as an actor in “The Adventures of Slaters’s Friend.” Do you think you will make another film with him?

AS: “Jerry Ruis” is a crazy short Safdie and I made in my mom’s apartment. He's my oldest friend in the world. We used to direct a lot of shorts together when I was a member of Red Bucket Films, before Henry and I started Supermarché. Safdie and I are writing a sequel called "John Gotti's Maserati.”

FPM: Do you prefer being a director or an art director?

AS: Being a director takes a lot of guts. Being an art director allows me to work creatively on other peoples movies. And to buy cool props that I get to keep.

FPM: Who are the biggest influences on your filmmaking?

AS: Woody Allen, Werner Herzog, Roman Polanski, and Josh Safdie.

FPM: What do you think your next project will be? Are you open to doing another documentary?

AS: Truth is stranger than fiction; I'll make documentaries for the rest of my life. But for my next feature film, Joost and I are writing a narrative thriller. I'm also working on publishing a book of the Catfish correspondence.


litdreamer said...

Way to get a mention, Cristina. :-) Great interview, Nick. You avoid the trap of most interviewers (read: TV interviewers) who ask several questions at once, usually separated with "or."

Nick Duval said...

Thank you so much, Greg.