It was my intention with mother mortar, father pestle to rebut a certain type of religious pressure that is bearing on American politics, which I view as a significant obstacle to humanity’s transcendence from creatures perpetually at war to ones further benign. My little film can hardly claim to have the tools to scratch such a Goliath, but it’s my hope that it might at least go some distance to scrawl the existence of an objection on a wall of lost documents, like a soldier in jail for refusing to shoot.
I attempted to construct a set of characters that are not particularly successful as advocates for their respective causes, unified in their impotency, and their exhaustion and in their minor shifts to consider the perspective of another.
My film work is mostly consistent in its aesthetic, concerned with a beautiful decay, the incomplete human activities, yet still celebrating our engineering as well as the earth’s ability to erode and reclaim; to honor and respect what I call an indifferent universe. I prefer to focus on characters for which life is profoundly unsatisfying, and though this may neglect those who have truly suffered, it somehow seems a conduit suited to transmit life’s impression, to capture a shadow of what some might call the hand of god. I’m satisfied that without god, this hand is that of a ghost or a beggar.
I have little interest in the tribulations of individuals and my fictional work does not attempt tell a story, has no particular concern with emotive performance and will not supply a string of moving singularities. I tend toward the uneventful or the tedious hours. The singularities that I do include are rather brief, cold and dry. I leave it to the conventionalists to depict murder or disaster, preferring to work on the philosophical aspects of human action. That said, I essentially make black comedy. I am aware that this is a luxury afforded those who know little tragedy. Though poetry may be found in despair rather than elation, I prepare my camp among those whose reaction to life is a marble of wonder and malaise and for us it is natural to find life generally a colossal absurdity.
SF CA 2012
A few commments about the term ‘Experimental.’
Some refer to outsider or art-house or unconventional films as ‘Experimental’ or ‘Experimental’ narrative. When I first began to understand the possibilities of the film form, I found myself embracing this category, but I came to find it distasteful and inaccurate to describe my work and the work of others who stray from the norms.
I don't consider MMFP an experimental film. Irwin Blackner, a screenplay teacher wasn't a fan of the term. To refer to one's work this way was for him something of an admission of failure, an ‘experimental’ work was essentially a 'release' of incomplete, undeveloped ideas. In Hollywood, an experiment is called a test, not a film.
I don't consider MMFP an experimental film, firstly because though I generally reject a number of conventionally mandatory components, like 'acts' or character development or conclusions, the film was built with attention to detail in a very calculated and deconstructed way. And secondly, because though some filmmakers may be so prepared as to have considered the placement of every hair on their actors' heads, it is a myth that any film production isn't rife with hap-hazard construction and accidents, happy or otherwise. One mustn't confuse 'experimenting' with making something of which you may not know the depths of its qualities until you decide you are done - which I would propose is the state of the majority of film works worthy of viewing. For lack of better expression, if what the word art wishes to describe involves something of poetry, one has to let the universe participate, make its mark on this record of having lived that is a film, like the sun and the atmosphere shares its accidental qualities with the film in the camera.
A few further rambling words about imposition and the place from which
mother mortar, father pestle arose:
Ours is an over-populated world, full of opportunists and calculated maneuvers designed to extract your resources, everything from your youth to your purse as your heirs buy your coffin. It’s not a new process, just with modern complications. This is not at the exclusion of moments of bliss and beauty in life. It is also obvious from living that you cant necessarily believe what people say, or what they write.
The religious ask that you should believe the spoken and written word of man, stories suggesting that brilliant and prophetic people existed, connected somehow to the sky, the stars, things beyond the scope of our understanding. If a weakness in our character tosses us open because we long for such stories, such heavenly fathers, then we are easy targets for such man-ipulation. Man, the English word for man like les mains - the French word for the hands. To make bread, one thoroughly works flour and water with the hands. To make believers, we thoroughly work children, kneading them into a paste of fear.
To wish something existed is of course not to make it so, but as our beings fallible, our senses imperfect, our minds easily led to delusion, it is for Kant to suggest that fairytales are not true if we believe them so. It is in the moment of imposition as we try to squeeze another into our delusion where the thorough crime lies. This is the catastrophe, the deepest injustice. But like a teenager naively trying to share his favorite music lyrics with an uninterested adult, there is a human interest in sharing and seeking assurance. Why not share one’s thoughts as to the nature or origin of life in the universe? Why not indeed, but the matter hinges on the threshold of idle chatter and advertisings older brother, the brainwashing of children. As Pinker suggests, we may have less influence on how children develop than we would like. But in my humble opinion, we should try as hard as possible to instill in them an eager priority of evidence and skepticism, insure they realize that knowledge levels are fixed in their era and subject to an era’s technological resolution, and to always, always, question the motivations of information providers.