The Lost Generation : Interview 2: ‘Buy me, Sell me, F$$K me, Kill me’by Asha
Buy me. Sell me. Fuck me. Kill me:
The Lost Generation – by Future Artists.
This is Part 2 of an interview with director Mark Ashmore.
Interviewed by Sarah Shaw April 17th 2011.
Well it’s been a few months since we last sat down and talked on the set of Lost Generation. How are things going with the project Mark?
It’s developing, as the team expands, and as we start to collaborate outside of our normal (if that exists) creative network, the project is absorbing a lot more outside influences and as the project is organic; in some ways a rock ‘n’ roll movie, we have created a creative culture around the film. This brings with it an influx of new ideas into the story world and the whole creative process.
OK. A bit deep that. Let’s take two steps back before we go into the creative process. What is the film about?
Well the story, is … it’s more than a film, it’s taking a documentarian’s perspective, and remixing neorealism for a modern audience.
The project works on two levels. Well, in my mind: the first is a film – exploitation in genre, and to categorise where this film would sit in the Hollywood dominated market place would be to say that it’s a revenge film, aimed at a male audience of 15-25 year olds, who live at home, might be in further education, might not, and who love to see a foxy chick kick ass, who is mad at society, and is part of a reality game show to get rid of the ‘bad in society’ chosen by a shadow government and actioned by a reality TV producer. The branding and the marketing that will reach out to that audience will also be part of the context for further conversation for the other side of the project. The more academic side, it’s this side that I would love to try and explore in this interview.
You’re setting the tone of this interview, so I don’t get to have any journalistic control!
Well that’s the big question: do any journalists now have any real control on the editorial, as all media outlets are branded, and owned by major cash mountains, whom have ultimate say so of what can be said in their media spaces, from the broadsheets of the New York Times, whose bread and butter comes from adverts that lay across its pages. Then to the bloggers, who might start revolutions, but it is Google who they must not upset, because to upset Google means your voice is effectively cut off in the online world.
What’s your beef then? Where is all this coming from?
The film the ‘The Lost Generation’ deals with a range of topics and conversations that are starting to crop up within my generation, that of who controls the media and what is the purpose, on the far right I suppose we have the activist extremists who believe the whole world is being controlled by some sort of brotherhood, you know the ‘new world order’, and then on the far left, you have the revolutionaries, who are inverting media back on to itself, adbusting, remixing and being vocal using culture against culture.
And then, stuck in the middle of all this, you have various artists, various objectives and various agendas. The most famous commentator of this has to be BANSKY: his art has tapped into the conscious of the consumer/ prosummer binary, he defaces brands and corporations, and the brands instead of suing him, they want to pay him for the privilege of being made a ‘Banksy’.
Then there’s Naomi Klein, the author of ‘No Logo’ who also sits in this camp. Her book has spawned – or is part of a new activist movement, who are looking for some sort of alternative from the buy me, sell me, fuck me, kill me culture we have at the moment. By the way I’m still figuring all this out, I know we are in the middle of a paradox shift, and you can say that at time of going to press, I’m looking which slogan t-shirt I want to buy so I can join the correct tribe!
In a nutshell, I’m currently working my way through underground culture. I mean I have been for a few years now, from being kettled at the G20 climate camp on bishopsgate, to working with Emily James and the Just Do It team on their project which took me to Copenhagen for the G15; to smaller direct actions around Manchester, to exploring various art scenes in cities like Paris, Detroit and Salford. I’m looking at underground activist culture and thinking, ‘how do I comment on this and at the same time, make a film that appeals to the masses?’
You need more than the underground culture to watch the film, they already know about it, so self referencing won’t help anyone, the story I want to tell, has to go mainstream, or its worthless as social comment.
Part of me wants to pay some sort of homage to the scene, as I think from a historical context, you know 20 years in the future, looking back, people will go, oh yeah, they did this kind of abstract counter revolution and the other half of me wants to make a film that people will pay to see and stick in their movie collection. A bit post punk that? Or is this new wave consumerism – hate the media, become the media, hate yourself for it?
Let’s talk movies: if you could compare ‘The Lost Generation’ to any film or Genre, what would that be?
Well, that’s where we get into all sorts of issues, it doesn’t fit.
In my mind it started out as a traditional A to B Revenge flick, SJ the lead gets revenge on all that is wrong in society, with guns and action to boot!, but then as the academic side of the project grew via transmedia influences, the project starts to jump around categories. I mean the mad thing is, this film,might exist only online for VOD download, so you don’t need to give it a Genre so it fits into Blockbuster or LoveFilm. I mean, how do you categorise all the information on the internet?
I think that’s the key here: information. I’m giving my view of a scene or culture and giving information, represented as a story, sometimes in a naturalistic way, sometimes as an abstract, and hoping that the audience are savvy enough to keep up. I mean in my head if you can text, tweet, watch a movie and eat popcorn then you should be able to keep up with several loose threads through a linear movie. And if you dig the story-world enough and it has had an effect on you then you head into cyberspace, into our digital world and pick up those threads and see where they lead you. To ‘enter the Matrix’ if you will.
I think I’m deconstructing what a movie is? Like, let’s kick that notion of ‘can you compare the film’ because to it is like a new kind of movie for a new generation, to self-reference itself. It’s a movie by the lost generation, for the lost generation. And you have to be part of this to get in on the action, the outsiders will just look in and go, ‘oh, don’t get it’, or will have to educate themselves too get it.
So what are you trying to get at? What’s the point of all this?
Well it’s freedom to express via the greatest art form of them all: Cinema. Film-making now is as expensive as recording as a DIY band and you can now DIY release too. That’s what we set Future Artists up for; to think up an idea, to make it, and to get it to people who care, and then they will help promote it or share it with their friends. And so inside this film is a little comment on how important that is: I mean SJ, our hero character, starts life as a reality TV star doing it for all the wrong reasons… or is she? And in the end she tries to break the system, we say tries because the more we look at the system – the bigger and more complex it is – we don’t have the budget for a massive explosion to take out the mainframe. We have to be a bit more character driven. In fact, ‘Fight Club’ has a role to play in the genesis of this movie, so if you like Fight Club, you will dig ‘The Lost Generation’.
Finally, where are you in the process of making this? And what’s next?
We have shot Part 1, which deals with setting the tone of the film, introducing the characters, the world and the pace. We are in post-production on this at the moment, and we are currently writing the script for Part 2 at the same time as editing Part 1. Each section is about 15 minutes long, and we are breaking it up like this as we only have a small crew and no production staff to offer logistic support. We are running and gunning the film across Manchester in 3 day bursts! It’ll be all over the summer of 2011, ready for a preview in the winter and then we’ll get busy with it in 2012. This date is also important to the film…
Spoiler alert! Right, thanks Mark for that. At time of writing you don’t have a dedicated website for the film, so how can fans follow you?
Yeah we are working on what this digital space should be, as it has to blend with the aesthetic of the project and maybe make some sort of comment, so we are still in the creative process on this, but we will be posting on http://www.facebook.com/futureartists and blogging at www.futureartists.co.uk and tweeting @futureartists, so get on those and let me know what you think of this process film, thing!
MARK ASHMORE IS CURRENTLY TOURING A WEB 3.O FILM AND TRANSMEDIA WORKSHOP ACROSS THE UK, INFO HERE……