An interview with Mark Pariselli, creator of After, a feature which will be playing in our short program “The Queer Kids Are Alright”.
What do you find usually provides the initial spark of inspiration for your work?
I am always reading, watching films, listening to music and checking out art and photography to keep a strong, steady flow of ideas and visuals but the initial spark of inspiration for my work often comes from things I’m struggling with in real life and real life encounters.
Do you consider your work to be specifically queer filmmaking? Is there a common goal that propels all of your work?
I think my work definitely pulses with a queer energy. I am very much inspired by queer artists (Gregg Araki, Gus Van Sant, Andy Warhol, Kenneth Anger) and though ‘After’ is filtered through a queer perspective, as a whole, I don’t think the film is restrictively queer. I wouldn’t say there is a common goal that propels all of my work.
I found your close attention to detail in the film very intriguing. Several objects in particular caught my attention, such as the minnows and the crucifix. Did you place these in the film, knowing their dream symbolism?
Because the film blends reality and fantasy, I wanted to ground the characters with certain props or details that also serve as representative signifiers. Items or images were purposefully chosen to both delineate character in reality and work symbolically in the dream sequences.
What are some of the difficulties you encountered when trying to convert Cooper’s poem to the visual? How closely did you seek to represent the author’s vision of the narrative, and how much do you feel the story became your own?
One of the big issues that came up when converting Cooper’s poem for the screen was working out how graphic the sex would (or could) be visualized. Cooper’s frank approach to sex and sexuality is one of the driving forces of his work. As much as I wanted to stay true to that, I also wanted to create a piece that was more suggestive and left more to the imagination. I say that the film ‘After’ is inspired by (rather than based on) Cooper’s “After School, Street Football, Eighth Grade” because the poem was used more like a foundation or skeleton which was then fleshed out with some of my own preoccupations. Though the action in both film and poem is the same, the thematic focus is a bit different, creating a different meaning to the endings.
Dennis Cooper’s poems are receiving lots of attention these days! Are you familiar at all with Dan Faltz’s film Weak Species?
At festivals over the past year ‘After’ was often programmed along side ‘Weak Species’ but unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it to those screening so I have yet to see it. Though we both adapt Cooper’s work, I hear we take very different approaches and hopefully I’ll get the chance to see Faltz’s film soon.
What are you working on currently?
My sophomore short entitled ‘Frozen Roads’ screened as part of Image+Nation (Montreal’s LGBT Film Festival) this past Nov and was well received. Unlike ‘After’ it contains dialogue and is more of a traditional narrative about three youths coming of age in rural Ontario. Hopefully it will have a successful festival run in 2011. Currently I am working on a few ideas for a follow up short.
Thanks very much for the questions!
Catch After this Saturday January 29th at Ellis Auditorium!