Bingham Bryant is an American actor, screenwriter, editor, producer and film director; Kyle Molzan is an American editor and film director. Written by the former and directed by both, their first feature film For the Plasma premiered at Jeounju, Maryland, Indielisboa, Nashville and BAMcinemaFest.
In an exclusive interview with Filmatique, Bingham Bryant and Kyle Molzan discuss the Sundance stigma, Japanese techno-pop philosophy, the duplicitous nature of films and their next projects.
FILMATIQUE: For the Plasmahas a very distinct and even unusual style and structure, leading it to be compared to the works of Shane Carruth, particularly Primer. Did you find any inspiration within that film? If not, what were your influences— cinematic or otherwise?
BINGHAM BRYANT: Carruth isn't an influence. He makes puzzle films— which in his case is not just to say that they are films to be solved, but also that they're constructed out of thousands of tiny pieces, each jigsawed into shape for a specific and limited function— a shot for each action. We were more interested in creating a space, one within which ideas could flow and interact with each other in unpredictable, ambivalent ways. It was about finding ways to open the film, to allow more in, and finding a style and structures that deconstructed themselves in their own making. We talked a lot about Raúl Ruiz's The Territory, Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Charisma, and Artavazd Pelechian's distance montage. Movies that eat their own tail, and are better for it.
KYLE MOLZAN: Carruth has the Sundance stigma. Silent provocation was more our style of thought.
FLMTQ: The film strikes this balance between tranquil and unsettling, which is nicely underscored by the charming but disjointed synth music. What led you to collaborate with the Japanese composer Keiichi Suzuki? How did you work alongside him to evoke the particular atmosphere of For the Plasma?
KM: Asking Keiichi was basically asking our favorite musician to do a score, with digital-pastoral as the goal.
BB: The thing is that Plasma had been, from the moment we began making it, a Japanese techno-pop movie. So much of the film was informed by ideas we'd found or explored through this music. It is, even in its most commercial, anodyne forms, a philosophical music— one driven by unresolvable tensions between nature and technology, discovery and synthesis, exoticism and the familiar. Keiichi had been a pioneer of the genre, as the frontman of the Moon Riders and as a producer for other artists. So the film was already in dialogue with his work, before he was ever directly involved, and he intuitively got it. Though we spent a long time talking about how the music could interact with this particular landscape and environment, with the sounds that were already there.
FLMTQ: This is a film that poses a lot of questions but leaves them unanswered, playing with the audience's natural inclination to search for an explanation where there isn't one. What motivated you to make such an intentionally ambiguous film? What reactions and interpretations surprised you the most, if any?
BB: If it doesn't shift, change, in front of your eyes and in your thoughts, that means it's dead. I guess I've been most startled by how many of my own feelings are in the film. I learned that films are duplicitous, and take things from you when you're not looking. Good for them!
KM: We found a buoy in the water that I claimed was my depression. When I was in college, the only way I could justify my abstract interpretation of cinema was to tell myself that all thoughts and ideas in cinema are communicated. Even not knowing your own utopia.
FLMTQ: Ultimately, For the Plasma is very much a meditation on existence in the modern age of technology and digitalization, in which intentions can shape our understanding of reality, truth. What responsibility do you believe artists, and filmmakers in particular, have to tell particular types of stories given the uncertain age in which we live?
BB: It does feel necessary to make films that question things as they appear to be. But that's nothing new, and is probably more a question of style than of content.
KM: Ideal creators are Ghandi. Every movie I've ever been involved in creating had to do with the subject being an artist in some form.
FLMTQ: Can you discuss any upcoming projects, either in collaboration with each other or individually??
KM: The last short I shot was about an Instagram star. It will fit into a collection of shorts that may end up close to feature length. Two years ago I tried to create a feature about Georges Simenon taking a road trip from Maine to Florida. One day I'll finish that.
BB: I'm about to start shooting a short— it's called Foreign Powers, and takes place over a few days and a few minutes, in and out of a dream. It'll be set here, in New York City, but will try and claim otherwise. There should be a game of pool, a few statues, poison. Kyle is going to act in it.