Aaron Allred – Brooklyn filmmaker sits with Vivienne from ETVAS Magazine on one of the locations of his next film.
Did you always know that you wanted to make films?
A: Not at all….I always loved watching movies but until I was about 26 I saw them as this great story-telling medium that only other people knew how to do……
So is that when you decided to be a filmmaker and what happened then that made you decide that you wanted to make films?
A: Yes…As stupid as it sounds, it was when Spike Lee made his first film „She’s Gotta have it“. I watched this film and became so jealous. I listened to an interview with Spike about how he struggled to get the film made. It was the first time that I had heard of someone that wrote, directed, produced and starred in his own film. I was impressed..But jealous…..and the fact that he was also from Brooklyn only made me more jealous…I told myself and everyone around me at the time „I have to try that“. I was a Fashion Designer at the time and I was married. My wife was not very happy about the sudden change but I went for it. I applied to different film schools but only got accepted in a screenwriting program. I used that as my „back door“ and soon found myself in a 2-year Directing program…….
What do you feel about German Filmmakers?
A. Well, Germany has a rich history of great filmmakers. My favorite were directors like Fritz Lang and Otto Preminger and Fassbinder. I must embarrassingly say that I’m not so familiar with some of the younger guys.
Where do you see the biggest difference between German films and American films?
A: My answer to that question is a little complicated because I don’t know what an American film or a German film is… I’ve been in Berlin about 12 years, So I know that the filmmaking process is different, particularly when it comes to getting a film financed. Germans for the most part don’t spend any of there own money for even there own films. Instead they all apply for one of the various film funds. And they don’t make a movie until they get a „yes“. They consider working on there own project as unpaid and unsecured work ,which Germans just will not do. Secondly, there is no „Independent film“ scene in Germany like in America. There is no system in place to support those that might have the courage and be willing to take the dive in to producing there own film…… I was having a coffee with close friend of mine who is a very successful German actor and he jokingly told me that if you throw a stone anywhere in Berlin, it will probably hit someone waiting on film funding. There is a lot of creative talent in Germany. But in my opinion they don’t get the support that they deserve.
So why have you chosen to make a film here and not in America?
A. Well, to be honest, inspite of everything that I just said, I am a little gun shy… After what happened to me after I made my first feature in Berlin (Not a Love Story), my confidence was so shaken that I honestly wonder how I would stack up to film makers at home. I will make two features in Berlin this year. Then I’ll go back to test the waters at home.
Two films? That sounds very ambitious……Can you tell me a little bit about the two films?
A: The first film is called „Moustache“ and its about a young struggling black actor in Berlin who, due to some crazy circumstances, gets to play Adolf Hitler in a very big theater play…..
The second is called „Thriller“ and this is my hommage to the „Hitchcock Presents“ television series from the 1960’s.
Sounds very interesting. Should we talk about that more or move on? Let’s move on because I see how your eyes light up when you mentioned the two new films and you could probably talk for hours about them……So, what is your favorite movie?
A: (Smiling)I have to say „Casablanca“ and „A Raisin in the Sun“ are two films that I can watch over and over and over again……
Who is your favorite actor or actress?
A. This I can’t answer…It changes every couple of days……
What about your favorite Director?
A: I don’t know why but Jean Luc Godard jumps in my head at the moment…
Do you write your own scripts? And if so, how do you get the ideas for your scripts?
A: It sounds crazy but most of the stories come from a mixture of dreams that I’ve had and things that have happened to me. Is that normal?
What do you think about Hollywood at the moment?
A: Hollywood, like always, is a mixed bag of tricks…There’s a trend that’s been happening for the last 7-8 years. All the big stars make one or two big budget films , I guess to pay the bills and then they go off for a couple of weeks and make what we in America call low budget „European-style“ independent films….And amazingly enough, these films have won more Oscars in the last five years than the big budget ones. That’s promising…..
On the way here, I mentioned Quentin Tarantino and you criticized him about using the „N“ word so often in his films. What would you say to Mr. Tarantino if you were to meet him?
A: That’s a good fucking question. Hmmm……What WOULD I say to Mr. „Perpetuation“. ….I guess I wouldn’t say what was really on my mind. (Sarcastically)But because I’m only talking to you, I’ll give you my feeling about Quentin. He’s perpetuating this situation where it’s ok for white men to call black men the „N“ word…. Quentin is like the old slaveowner who was no longer able to make love to his wife, so he calls in one of the slave men to do it.
I don’t understand. Can you explain that?
A: Yes. It seems like Quentin would love to be able to say the word more himself but because of his position and fame he can’t. So instead, he writes these scripts where he creates these situations where he himself would like to call someone the „N“ word and then hires a lot blacks and famous actors to do it in his films.
Okay. Change of subjects. Someone told me that you enjoy cooking. What is your favorite thing to cook?
A: I do a very good Chicken Parmisan…….