#157: Documenting Lives--A Conversation with Elstree 1976 Director Jon SpiraLast week, Horrible Imaginings presented a week of screenings of the new documentary Elstree 1976 at the Digital Gym Cinema here in San Diego, California. During the Saturday night screening, director Jon Spira graciously agreed to talk to the theater after the screening for a Q&A via Skype. What this meant for him was setting the alarm clock for 3:30 AM in the UK. It was an engrossing conversation, but Elstree 1976 wasn't the last film on the schedule that night and our Q&A was cut short. Partly because of this, I decided to contact Jon again on my own for a more in-depth podcast episode. What I got was one of the most involving and sincere conversations about cinema I've ever had. This could be one of the podcasts I am most proud of.
Incidentally, while editing last night I heard Jon pronounce his last name and I realized that I have been mispronouncing it for a very long time. I've been saying "Spira" with the Spanish "i": "Speera." I think it is correctly pronounced with a long "i." Sorry about that, Jon!
Anyway, as I was saying, this is an epic episode. As with the documentary Elstree 1976, it is more reflective and meditative, more philosophical. Listening to it again last night was an almost cathartic and intense experience. As you all know, yesterday was also the day we all found out about the ruinous mass shooting in Orlando where 50 people lost their lives. It was impossible not to have that on the back of my mind while editing this podcast, where Jon and I talk meticulously about how "every life is interesting" and how focusing on any one person in the crowd will reveal a beautifully complex and full life. The juxtaposition of these thoughts and the knowledge that 50 such lives were ruthlessly gunned down was an intoxicating emotional roller coaster. I have to dedicate this episode--one I am extremely proud of--to the people who lost their lives in Orlando yesterday.
Here are some of the main things we talk about:
1: Jon's most important interview project
2: The Q&A at Digital Gym Cinema
3: Unbelievable exhuastion
4: The challenge of depicting without exploiting
5: Documentarians and their power of manipulation
6: Truth Vs. Perspective
7: In defense of "talking heads"
8: The power of the close up on a human face
9: Infantilized culture
10: The internet age of film criticism
11: Audience expectations vs. challenging audiences
12: I DO go to bat for indie horror!