First Look: Stunning New Posters for Tim Sutton’s ‘Memphis’ Premiering in Venice This Week

Set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival on August 31st, Tim Sutton’s stunning new film Memphis enters off the heat of praise from his debut feature Pavilion, which premiered last summer. With a filmmaking style that captures the ineffable beauty in the smallest of moments and the hypnotic power of melding image and sound, Memphis was developed through the Venice Biennale Cinema College over the past year.

Starring singer Willis Earl Beal, who wrote and recorded the soundtrack for the film, Memphis’ cast is comprised of cast of non-actors plucked by Sutton, in a film that follows Beal as a man “surrounded by beautiful women, legendary musicians, a stone-cold-hustler, a righteous preacher, and a wolfpack of kids” and who is  ”working less on his music and more on the state of his soul.” 
 
And after falling prey to the emotionally moving and visually arresting trailer last week, we’re proud to share with you the first posters for Memphis—shot and designed by Caspar Newbolt of Version Industries, who joined Sutton down in Memphis this past spring while shooting the film.
 
Speaking to his directorial affinity for creating a narrative that breathes as it develops and the process of collaboration, Sutton told us:
The thing that most defined the filmmaking process, even more so with Memphis than even Pavilion, was the idea of designed creative autonomy. I would set the day—scene by scene—which included a minimalist storyboard and often would leave plenty of room for the story to multiply or divide. Then the cast and crew would have a great deal of autonomy to inhabit and capture the spaces as they felt most natural—from Willis to Chris Dapkins (our DP) and also Bart Mangrum (production designer) and my other collaborators. Everyone was asked to take a certain amount of control, as long as it served the world we were creating.  This form of collaboration works even more so with Caspar, who really has carte blanche as far as how to approach typography, still image, and overall design for print, site, and titles/credits.  John Baker, our producer, and I asked that the first round of posters be focused on Willis within the mythic world of Memphis the film lives in.  Then Caspar does what Caspar does.
Of their work together, Caspar notes:
When we were first asked to work on Pavilion the film was basically done and Tim was already pretty keen on certain shots as being representative of the film. So I riffed off of those, really embedding into them a concept we’d agreed upon about Max, the main character, slowly disappearing in front of our eyes. The urgency of the bold, italic type treatment just felt right, as did the colour in terms of the vibrant, fearlessness of these kids.
 
What isn’t on the page however is the relationship that formed between Tim and us based on an understanding of why making the kinds of films he does is important. As with anything what’s most crucial is the discussions that go on as you’re doing the work. Not long after I’d started working on Pavilion did I find myself getting drunk with Tim in a Manhattan hotel bar. He had just bellowed as loudly as was perhaps still polite that he felt Gaspar Noé’s film Enter The Void was "the Citizen Kane of our generation!" Now Pavilion didn’t scream that message of course, but there’s a sense in its very modern blurring of the lines between narrative and documentary that it understands, like Enter The Void, what needs to happen next with films.
 
Fast forward to the Memphis shoot. I’d been invited to spend the last two weeks of the shoot on set. Stills camera in hand, I was invited to just be there and soak everything in. I didn’t know it yet but my candid photos were going to be the photos used in the posters for the film, not film stills or posed shots. What’s important about this is that my photos were often taken when the camera wasn’t rolling. I was there between takes, off book, capturing the actors just being in Memphis, dealing with the heat, figuring out the next scene and generally talking shit with the crew. This in and of itself once again blurs the line between what is the film and what is just reality in a way that’s true to everything Tim is trying to do as a filmmaker.
 
There are of course other stories to tell, but for now I hope everyone enjoys the deeper insight into the making of Memphis that these two posters allow.
See the posters below, as well as the film’s fantastic site (make sure to click “Think God” for a nice treat.)
 
v
 
c
 

Watch the Beautiful First Trailer for Tim Sutton’s ‘Memphis’

Last summer, we fell in love with filmmaker Tim Sutton’s hypnotic debut, Pavilion. In praising the feature, we said that the film , “puts a finger on the pulse of a feeling that is almost impossible to describe, and it makes us at once nostalgic for our days of hazy, adolescent ennui. In the style of Gus van Sant’s Elephant or Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven, the film plays out almost silently as it tells the story of Max, who leaves his lakeside town to live with his father in suburban Arizona. The power of Pavilion is so subtle that you may not even be cognizant to the hypnotic state you’re falling into as it washes over you. The dialogue and world the characters live in may be raw and natural, but there’s something magical about looking from afar at the most mundane daily things in which one normally wouldn’t find beauty.”

And since, we’ve been anxiously awaiting Sutton’s next directorial turn, which is set to premiere later this month at the Venice Film Festival. Titled Memphis, the film stars musician Willis Earl Beal who spends his time, “surrounded by beautiful women, legendary musicians, a stone-cold-hustler, a righteous preacher, and a wolfpack of kids,’ while working less on his music and more on the state of his soul.”

Earlier today, The Dissolve premiered the first trailer for the film, which looks as stunning and soulful as it does raw and in line with Sutton’s subtly fascinating directorial sensibility. Take a look below and stay turned here for more on Memphis coming soon.

 

From Jean Renoir to Park Chan-wook: Here Are the Best Films to See in New York This Weekend

Now that the Oscars have come and gone, it’s time we start thinking ahead to all the amazing films set to debut in 2013. And what better way to spend your weekend than getting acquainted with a few greats that premiere this weekend as well as some old gems thrown in the mix. From Park Chan-wook’s new gothic thriller Stoker to Jean Renoir’s classic The River, here’s the best of what’s playing around New York this weekend.

IFC Center

Leviathan
Pavilion
Aliens
The Nun

Cinema Village East

Lore
The End of Love
A Fierce Green Fire

Landmark Sunshine

Stoker
Genius on Hold
A Place at This Table
Shaft

Videology

Monty Python’s Life of Brian
The Muppets Take Manhattan

Museum of the Moving Image

Oldboy
Short Films of Park Chan-wook
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
Lady Vengeance

/p>

Film Society Lincoln Center

A Lady in Paris
Like Someone in Love
Therse Desqueyroux
The River

Nitehawk

Henry Portrait of a Killer
Tombstone
Adventures in Babysitting

BAM

In the House
Persecution
Populaire
The Rules of the Game

Spectacle Theater

Il Demonio
Deatht Laid an Egg
Killer Nerde
Coup de Tete

ReRun

Future Weather

Filmmaker Tim Sutton Talks His Dreamy First Feature ‘Pavilion’

I first saw Tim Sutton’s directorial debut Pavilion this past June on a languid summer’s night. It was that moment just before the dire heat of summer sinks its teeth into you and the air feels like electric sugar. As I sat and watched the film in my family’s backyard on my laptop, everything around me took on a quiet sense of wonder. It was an ineffable moment, processed much better emotionally than articulated, but a rare sense of calm fell over me, stirring up nostalgia for the ennui of youth before the cumbersome burdens of adulthood. And that’s where Sutton’s Pavilion lives, inside those brief moments of wonder and stillness that make adolescence magical.

In the same vein as Gus van Sant’s Elephant or Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven, Pavilion plays out almost silently as it tells the story of Max, who leaves his lakeside town to live with his father in suburban Arizona. Sutton puts the camera on the pulse of a feeling, creating something hypnotic, exposing the mystical in the mundane aspects of teenage life. There’s a gentle grace that pervades the film, juxtaposed by the raw and natural performances of its central characters. You allow the film to wash over you like a hazy dream that’s so subtle you might not even be cognizant to its effect until the credits roll and you’re jolted back to reality.

And after running the festival circuit at home and overseas, Pavilion has finally landed in New York for its theatrical debut. The film premieres tomorrow night at IFC Center and is certainly not to be missed. Back in the summer I chatted with Sutton about to see what inspired this story, capturing the essence of youth, and weaving his way through the festival circuit.

How did you come up with the concept for this film? Was there something that sparked the idea?
Years ago, a kid I knew mysteriously drowned in a lake in my hometown in Upstate New York. It was a brutal death in this serene and sheltered space, and it ripped a hole in the town for years. While Pavilion is not about this kid, his story and his absence was just lodged inside of me, part of my memory and, for lack of a better word, soul. Years later, when I wanted to make a film about kids, I thought of trying to tell a fictionalized version of his story, but what connected me to the actual filmmaking was imagining the kid’s friends just going about their lives without him—wandering through a summer with an infinite sense of time and space. The film I realized I wanted to make was simply about youth: the unexplainable mystery of the lives of youth in an ethereal landscape.

Where did you get the funding to make the film?
The shooting budget was provided by two friends outside of the film business, and I put in what I could. The end of post-production was funded by our Kickstarter campaign. It was and is a tiny, tiny amount of money.

Visually, the film was stunning. Did you want the landscape and the cinematography to take on the largest role?
First I have to say that Chris Dapkins is one of the most unique cinematographers out there right now, and the film would not have worked without him. At their most lovely form, films are just moving images connected together, so creating something quiet and beautiful was the story I pitched to him more than anything else. As a filmmaker working at Getty Images—they sell images, not sound—all of my shoots for three years were essentially silent short films. I used this time to develop a shorthand on how to cover scenes in an observational way that captured a sense of reality from a very artful and mannered eye. Very little said in the film matters as much as the colors and frame and geography of the lakes, trees, desert, sprawl, and the faces and bodies of our kids.

You managed to capture a very specific feeling of youth that’s at once ephemeral while also really lasting. When you see it, you can still feel it. Is that something you were going for?
I know just enough about kids to understand that they are a total mystery—in many ways unknowable—and yet everyone, at one point in their life, was a kid. It is a universally shared experience. This paradox fascinates me. I didn’t want to tell my own story of being a kid as that would have been simple nostalgia, so a key was to visually describe what youthlooks likewhat they do, where they go—rather than trying to figure out what they think or writing lots of dialogue and forcing too much of a recognizable plot that would have felt unreal. While every scene in Pavilion is completely by design, it works because the story feels grown rather than constructed. I also think that through camera and blocking and the edit, a naturally slowing down of time is what really links the audience to the film and its characters. You can show a kid climbing a tree for a few seconds and cut to another shot and its one thing. But if you watch the kid in that tree and stay with him up there, let him be, let the breeze come in and leave, in essence sit in the tree with him, you begin tofeel the film rather than simply watch it. That was the goal, at least.

In line with that, you focus on a lot of tactile elements like the sounds of the bike wheels or the dripping of water. Was sound a huge part of it for you?
I wanted the sound of the upstate New York part of the film to have a different tone than Arizona. Crickets dripping down from the trees and lake water rippling transformed into the buzz of bike spokes and the electricity of street lamps at night. My editor Seth Bomse is really to thank for the film’s creative nuance of wild sounds, and then Tom Paul of Gigantic Post then came in and deepened the textures and brought even more life to the soundscape.

How did you go about scoring the film? The music worked in a way that really captured the essence of the images.
It’s so awesome you dig the score; it is Pavilion‘s pulse. Sam Prekop is an artist I’ve admired for years, and I’ve also been lucky enough to collaborate with on videos for The Sea and Cake. I knew a long time ago that I was going to get Sam to score the film, and the images and ideas for the film’s look and feel developed out of his music. The film did not need an overpowering score or a giant sense of drama; it needed something really delicate and yet something that reached into the sublime. I flew to Chicago, rented a hotel room, and he and I watched the film together; he really connected to it. From there, he would send tracks and I would give feedback and, at a certain point, I felt really strongly that a theme had developed and, to me, this theme raises the emotional level of the film in a stunning way. Having his voice enter the film when it does always makes me lean back into a deeper state of wonder. That voice is so incredible.

Where did you find the actors for the film?
I had worked with Max on some short projects and pretty much realized right away that he was a natural and would be the focal point of the film. The other kids were found by chance or were hanging around, and so we cast them. Max’s dad is really Max’s dad. My old babysitter plays a part—that kind of thing. Arizona was quite a risk because we went out there just with Max and his dad (who didn’t know he was going to be in the film, he just thought he was a chaperone) and we went looking for “friends” for Max. If we had found another group of kids, it would have been a different story entirely. But we found Cody, another natural, and we just entered into his world.

Everything was shot so well and sort of perfectly constructed visually, but the dialogue was natural and raw. That juxtaposition was great. Did you write a complete script for them, or was it a lot of improvisation?
I wrote a story, which I showed Chris just so he knew what kind of film I wanted to make, but we never referred to it on set. I offered the story to the kids, but they frankly weren’t interested. They wanted to make a movie and didn’t necessarily want to read the story, which was better in the long run, as the story was able to come out day-to-day. Each evening we would sit around and I would bounce ideas off of crew and take their insights, and then I would organize the next day by outline, letting the time of day and quality of light dictate which scenes came when. Some storylines stuck and some I let fade away, giving the film this natural progression and sense of amble. There are definitely key pieces of dialogue that I fed the kids during certain moments of impact, but much of the talk is them, as it should be. 

As an independent filmmaker, what were your expectations going into making the film?
That is such a great question because it could have gone so differently. I just I knew I really had to make this film kind of now or never. At the same time, I felt pretty confident within the restrictions (ten shooting days, non-actors, tiny crew, micro budget) that I could inspire the people working with me to go all the way and make something artistic and unique, something really worth the time and effort. I did not necessarily think I would be premiering it at SXSW and BAM CinemaFEST and having people ask me what my next film is going to be. The most important result is that the process of making this film has connected me to a group of artists and collaborators whom I believe in and who, in return, believe in me, and that quite literally lights up my life.

 

PAVILION trailer from v r on Vimeo.

 

Pavilion opens at IFC Center this Friday (3/1).

The Most Anticipated Films of the Spring and Summer (Other Than ‘Before Midnight’)

For the past nine years, we’ve all been waiting to see if Jesse ever got on that plane and what became of him and Celine in Richard Linklater’s 2004 intimate walking-and-talking romance Before Sunset, the follow-up to 1995’s Before Sunrise. And now, eighteen years since that first moment in Vienna, we finally get to see where their story lands. Sony Pictures Classics have acquired Before Midnight, and to our delight it’s been revealed that the film we’ve been waiting so long with baited breath to see will finally have a limited release run starting May 24th in New York and Los Angeles. But Linklater’s decade-spanning drama isn’t the only one getting an official date. Pedro Almodovar’s follow-up to last year’s The Skin I Live in, the vibrant comedy I’m So Excited, will hit New York and L.A. on June 28th. And to top it off, as Woody Allen’s annual film will have a mid-summer’s release. Midnight in Paris and To Rome with Love both premiered in early June but his latest, Blue Jasmine (starring Cate Blanchett, Alec baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard, and Louis CK), will roll out on July 26th for a limited release.

So as if you weren’t already looking forward to summer, there are plenty of fantastic films headed our way, all sure to tickle your cinematic fancy. So while you’re cracking open your planner, take a look at what else is set to premiere in the season and what we’re most excited about—from Shane Carruth’s haunting sophomore feature to Danny Boyle’s latest masterpiece.

The Place Beyond the Pines

Derek Cianfrance’s epic triptych drama about a motorcycle stunt rider who turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective. 

Upstream Color

Shane Carrauth’s confounding and stunnigly complex sophomore effort about a man and woman who are drawn together and become entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives. 

Reality

Matteo Garrone’s larger-than-life surrealist follow-up to Gommorah, the film is set in the world of reality television and follows a Neapolitan fishmonger who participates in Grande Fratello, the Italian version of Big Brother

To the Wonder 

Terrence Malick’s latest sprawling poem of images is a romantic drama that tells the story of a couple who move to Oklahoma, where problems arise as we watch the natural progression of love’s painful ebb and flow.

.

Frances Ha 

Co-written by director Noah Baumbach and star Greta Gerwig, we get a black-and-white look a a floundering young woman who works as an apprentice in a dance company and wants so much more than she has but lives life with unaccountable joy and lightness.

Trance

Danny Boyle’s vibrant and mystifying heist of the mind drama about an art auctioneer who has become mixed up with a group of criminals that partners with a hypnotherapist in order to recover a lost painting.

Simon Killer

Antonio Campos’s psychologically distrubing yet visually beautiful drama about a recent college graduate who travels to France, where he becomes involved with a young prostitute.

Beyond the Hills

Cristian Mungiu’s third feature that centers on the friendship between two young women who grew up in the same orphanage; one has found refuge at a convent in Romania and refuses to leave with her friend, who now lives in Germany.

The East

Zal Batmanglij’s sophomore effort is a psycholigically challenging eco-thriller about an operative for an elite private intelligence firm who finds her priorities irrevocably changed after she is tasked with infiltrating an anarchist group known for executing covert attacks upon major corporations.

Laurence Anyways

Xavier Dolan’s ornate transgender epic about a man who reveals his inner desire to become his true self: a woman. Spanning through the late 1980s into the early 1990s, the story chronicles a doomed love affair.

Pavilion

Tim Sutton’s subtly poignant and ethereal film plays out almost silently as it tells the story of Max, who leaves his lakeside town to live with his father in suburban Arizona. 

Tim Sutton Talks About His Dreamy Debut, ‘Pavilion’

The purpose of film is to capture the ineffable, to allow us to see and feel that which cannot be described with words but is felt immensely when presented with the amalgamation of sight and sound. And that is exactly what Tim Sutton’s film, Pavilion, achieves. It puts a finger on the pulse of a feeling that is almost impossible to describe, and it makes us at once nostalgic for our days of hazy, adolescent ennui. In the style of Gus van Sant’s Elephant or Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven, the film plays out almost silently as it tells the story of Max, who leaves his lakeside town to live with his father in suburban Arizona. The power of Pavilion is so subtle that you may not even be cognizant to the hypnotic state you’re falling into as it washes over you. The dialogue and world the characters live in may be raw and natural, but there’s something magical about looking from afar at the most mundane daily things in which one normally wouldn’t find beauty. Earlier this year the film premiered at South by Southwest, and this week it makes its New York debut at BAM CinemaFest, featuring a Q&A with Sutton as well as a live performance by Sam Prekop and Archer Prewitt of The Sea and Cake (who scored the film). We chatted with Sutton to see what inspired this story, capturing the essence of youth, and weaving his way through the festival circuit.

How did you come up with the concept for this film? Was there something that sparked the idea?
Years ago, a kid I knew mysteriously drowned in a lake in my hometown in Upstate New York. It was a brutal death in this serene and sheltered space, and it ripped a hole in the town for years. While Pavilion is not about this kid, his story and his absence was just lodged inside of me, part of my memory and, for lack of a better word, soul. Years later, when I wanted to make a film about kids, I thought of trying to tell a fictionalized version of his story, but what connected me to the actual filmmaking was imagining the kid’s friends just going about their lives without him—wandering through a summer with an infinite sense of time and space. The film I realized I wanted to make was simply about youth: the unexplainable mystery of the lives of youth in an ethereal landscape.

Where did you get the funding to make the film?
The shooting budget was provided by two friends outside of the film business, and I put in what I could. The end of post-production was funded by our Kickstarter campaign. It was and is a tiny, tiny amount of money.

Visually, the film was stunning. Did you want the landscape and the cinematography to take on the largest role?
First I have to say that Chris Dapkins is one of the most unique cinematographers out there right now, and the film would not have worked without him. At their most lovely form, films are just moving images connected together, so creating something quiet and beautiful was the story I pitched to him more than anything else. As a filmmaker working at Getty Images—they sell images, not sound—all of my shoots for three years were essentially silent short films. I used this time to develop a shorthand on how to cover scenes in an observational way that captured a sense of reality from a very artful and mannered eye. Very little said in the film matters as much as the colors and frame and geography of the lakes, trees, desert, sprawl, and the faces and bodies of our kids.

You managed to capture a very specific feeling of youth that’s at once ephemeral while also really lasting. When you see it, you can still feel it. Is that something you were going for?
I know just enough about kids to understand that they are a total mystery—in many ways unknowable—and yet everyone, at one point in their life, was a kid. It is a universally shared experience. This paradox fascinates me. I didn’t want to tell my own story of being a kid as that would have been simple nostalgia, so a key was to visually describe what youthlooks likewhat they do, where they go—rather than trying to figure out what they think or writing lots of dialogue and forcing too much of a recognizable plot that would have felt unreal. While every scene in Pavilion is completely by design, it works because the story feels grown rather than constructed. I also think that through camera and blocking and the edit, a naturally slowing down of time is what really links the audience to the film and its characters. You can show a kid climbing a tree for a few seconds and cut to another shot and its one thing. But if you watch the kid in that tree and stay with him up there, let him be, let the breeze come in and leave, in essence sit in the tree with him, you begin to feel the film rather than simply watch it. That was the goal, at least.

In line with that, you focus on a lot of tactile elements like the sounds of the bike wheels or the dripping of water. Was sound a huge part of it for you?
I wanted the sound of the upstate New York part of the film to have a different tone than Arizona. Crickets dripping down from the trees and lake water rippling transformed into the buzz of bike spokes and the electricity of street lamps at night. My editor Seth Bomse is really to thank for the film’s creative nuance of wild sounds, and then Tom Paul of Gigantic Post then came in and deepened the textures and brought even more life to the soundscape.

How did you go about scoring the film? The music worked in a way that really captured the essence of the images.
It’s so awesome you dig the score; it is Pavilion‘s pulse. Sam Prekop is an artist I’ve admired for years, and I’ve also been lucky enough to collaborate with on videos for The Sea and Cake. I knew a long time ago that I was going to get Sam to score the film, and the images and ideas for the film’s look and feel developed out of his music. The film did not need an overpowering score or a giant sense of drama; it needed something really delicate and yet something that reached into the sublime. I flew to Chicago, rented a hotel room, and he and I watched the film together; he really connected to it. From there, he would send tracks and I would give feedback and, at a certain point, I felt really strongly that a theme had developed and, to me, this theme raises the emotional level of the film in a stunning way. Having his voice enter the film when it does always makes me lean back into a deeper state of wonder. That voice is so incredible.

Where did you find the actors for the film?
I had worked with Max on some short projects and pretty much realized right away that he was a natural and would be the focal point of the film. The other kids were found by chance or were hanging around, and so we cast them. Max’s dad is really Max’s dad. My old babysitter plays a part—that kind of thing. Arizona was quite a risk because we went out there just with Max and his dad (who didn’t know he was going to be in the film, he just thought he was a chaperone) and we went looking for “friends” for Max. If we had found another group of kids, it would have been a different story entirely. But we found Cody, another natural, and we just entered into his world.

Everything was shot so well and sort of perfectly constructed visually, but the dialogue was natural and raw. That juxtaposition was great. Did you write a complete script for them, or was it a lot of improvisation?
I wrote a story, which I showed Chris just so he knew what kind of film I wanted to make, but we never referred to it on set. I offered the story to the kids, but they frankly weren’t interested. They wanted to make a movie and didn’t necessarily want to read the story, which was better in the long run, as the story was able to come out day-to-day. Each evening we would sit around and I would bounce ideas off of crew and take their insights, and then I would organize the next day by outline, letting the time of day and quality of light dictate which scenes came when. Some storylines stuck and some I let fade away, giving the film this natural progression and sense of amble. There are definitely key pieces of dialogue that I fed the kids during certain moments of impact, but much of the talk is them, as it should be. 

As an independent filmmaker, what were your expectations going into making the film?
That is such a great question because it could have gone so differently. I just I knew I really had to make this film kind of now or never. At the same time, I felt pretty confident within the restrictions (ten shooting days, non-actors, tiny crew, micro budget) that I could inspire the people working with me to go all the way and make something artistic and unique, something really worth the time and effort. I did not necessarily think I would be premiering it at SXSW and BAM CinemaFEST and having people ask me what my next film is going to be. The most important result is that the process of making this film has connected me to a group of artists and collaborators whom I believe in and who, in return, believe in me, and that quite literally lights up my life.

How has it been promoting it at the various festivals you’ve been to? Have you been surprised at the reactions you’ve received?
Well, the premiere at SXSW was intense because it is so exciting and, having worked in a bit of a vacuum for years and having this first feature and it’s opening night and witnessing people actually line up outside the theater to see the film drove me a little nuts with expectations. Janet Pierson, the head programmer there, kind of took me aside at one point and very sweetly said that Pavilion is a film that will take time reaching an audience – that it will not break out but, rather, it will seep out and, by June, it will be in a great place. And now with BAM Cinemafest on June 28th, we’re right on time!

Poster by Caspar Newbolt