Thursday, January 21, 2010

4PLAY: DP PJ Raval... (PT 01)

The first of a two part interview w/ DP PJ Raval, who recently shot the Academy Award nominated doc TROUBLE THE WATER and my first feature, ROOM. He's an accomplished director in his own right and his feature doc TRINIDAD can be seen in regular rotation on SHOWTIME. - KH

1) You've worked on a lot of films, commercials, music-videos, et al. What makes working on these FOURPLAY shorts unique for you?

FOURPLAY is a unique experience for me in that the individual stories really push the boundaries of current independent cinema. Rarely do you see films today that explore the territory of sexual intimacy in an emotional non-sensationalized way. Films in the 60's and 70's were brave in certain ways that only arthouse films continue to explore - so shooting a film like FOURPLAY can be a rare opportunity for a cinematographer such as myself. With sexual and sometimes graphic content it can be a challenge to keep the images EMOTIONALLY GROUNDED and play against the sexual sensationalized images currently seen in more mainstream media. I always think good cinematography creates AND captures images that push the story and concept forward so it's good to be aware of what those elements are. Sexual intimacy doesn't have to be visually explicit or pornographic.

2) Do you have any personal connection to the material in the scripts? How did any of the material in AUSTIN or SAN FRANCISCO speak to you?

Didn't I tell you I used to be a transvestite sex-worker? Kkay no really, what's most interesting to me is the characters of AUSTIN and SAN FRANCISCO are metaphorically people I know. Characters close to my age, characters similar to people I know and emotions and events they experience. I think everyone including myself has an ongoing personal investment and exploration of sexual intimacy. Being a queer/gay man I've spent a lot of my life exploring my relationship to sex and how it shapes my identity and relationships with others. My life might not be as similar to most stories seen in mainstream filmmaking right now but we all experience the same emotions of desire, despair, longing, discovery... I'm also attracted to stories that explore gender and role-playing so both stories definitely resonate w/ me.

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