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In Living Memory: An Interview with Ari Gilad

Please tell us about the projects you worked on before making ‘In Living Memory’. How did you start, and how did you learn to make films?

Ever since I was in third grade, I was fascinated by cinema. My mom told me about a website named IMDB, and ever since it is my homepage. I studied cinematic arts in high school, and continued to a B.F.A program in cinema after my military service.

Before I started working on ‘In Living Memory’, I directed two short films - a horror film, and a fiction/documentary hybrid about my late father. With the former, I had the chance to experiment with filmmaking with no dialogue, which called for as striking imagery as possible. With the latter, I delved into my father’s personal legacy and the meaning of the art works he left behind with scripted scenes and interviews. I learned to make films in my college, but I learned what kind of films I want to make while making them.


Tell us about ‘In Living Memory’. How do you describe it?

‘In Living Memory’ is, primarily, a film about art. I see the film as an exercise in asking a difficult question: how do we cope with the idea of death? Our protagonist Gabriel takes mind-enhancing drugs in a party, and a fleeing state of ecstasy turns into self-reflection on past experiences. In his youth, in his military service and in a strobing-lights and techno infused party, he ties art and death as direct opponents. The film dares to show these ideas in 13 minutes, and on the way to have a cinematic experience.


Please tell us about your favorite filmmakers.

My personal favorite is Gaspar Noé. I have never seen a filmmaker stretch the limits of the cinematic medium to these lengths. Not only Noé’s films excite and provoke like no others, they tackle the most heavy themes. They are truly cinematic experiences. While I admire most of his filmography, ‘Enter the Void’ has to be the film that affected me the most

I also look up to the elevated horror filmmakers such as Robert Eggers and Ari Aster. I am a big fan of the horror genre, which tries to install emotions in its viewers such as fear or dread through cinematic craftsmanship. They both succeed in it, without the behemoth budget or production value of many current day films.

Director Ari Gilad

If you were given a good budget, what would be your ideal project?

I would definitely like to make a full-blown superhero film, with melodramatic villains and action sequences. I always loved comic-book films, and I am a fan of Marvel & DC (or at least was for a long time). While these types of movies always get bigger, I find smaller scale films such as ‘Chronicle’ or ‘Kick-Ass’ more interesting, and I would be very excited to give it a shot. There is a decline in the public interest in such movies, but I think we will always be in need of a hero, or of a happy ending.


Describe how you would ensure that production is on schedule. What steps would you take?

I think, at least in my personal experience, you need to know your limits. As a director, or screenwriter for that matter, you need to formulate a vision that can successfully turn into a film. That doesn't mean giving up on any theme or idea, just be creative about bringing them to the audience, and at the same time realistic.

Also, it is crucial to me to listen to what my crew has to say. I noticed many times that the crew members knew better what was good for my film more than I knew. I am still practicing this skill, but I see the contribution of my crew members as vital to the end product.


What was the hardest part of making ‘In Living Memory’.

The hardest part in making ‘In Living Memory’ was writing the script. I knew exactly the imagery and the aesthetic I wanted to deal with, but it took me time to figure out where the heart is. I had the “how”, but not the “why”, sort of speak. My professor, who worked with me on the screenplay, asked me directly: “what do you have to say with this film?”. That sent me to the right path through all of the production stages. From the moment I had something to say, it was relatively smooth.

If possible, tell us about your next work. What plans do you have for your future work?

Currently, I am working on my first feature film. While it is in a very early stage of development, I am looking to create something fearful or intense. I hope it will be a horror film. Like in past experience, I have many visual ideas but I am looking for the right core for them. When I find it, I am sure that’s when the fun will kick in.


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