Local filmmaker Maxwell Addae has always had a love for creating stories and an equal love for movies. He talks to RAW about his new film and his work. Be sure to RSVP to see a special screening of "The Man in the Glass Case" at the next RAW showcase at Cinespace in Hollywood on Thursday, August 5th!
Tell us about yourself.
I’m from a modest-sized city between Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas called Arlington. Creating stories has always been a skill that I would marvel at. From a coup led by GI Joe action figures over an evil robotic island, to the secret world of invisible gargoyles that protected me in my third grade class, I’ve always been interested in characters, fiction, and journeys. So, deciding to become a writer/director was an eventual no-brainer that I revel in. Watching some of the masters at their craft is great motivation. I hope to be able to challenge, confuse, entertain, and inspire for quite a long time.
How did you first get started in film?
After an unfulfilled attempt at pursuing a biology major, I kicked my parents out of my room (and my head) and vowed to follow my passion. After months of meditation, I realized that I had always told stories as a young man. The ability to create entire lives from your mind and to have those characters and stories internalized by people forever was always something that fascinated me. Whether it was by toys, invisible friends, my younger brother, or reluctant neighborhood kids, I realized that my affinity to create stories and my love of movies lead me to this beautiful, frustrating, visceral, fickle, career as a filmmaker.
Tell us about "The Man in the Glass Case.”
My short is about a very diligent warehouse employee named James who has a unique perspective about life. James sees most things in life as absurd, or pointless and he really operates on a essential needs basis. Food, sleep, companionship, work, etc. He does this so naturally and honestly that when he commits a violent act against a co-worker, he truly has no concept of its significance. This causes trouble when he is confronted and challenged about his morality by his employer. Albert Camus’ beautifully told story The Stranger was the inspiration behind my film and helped set the film’s tone.
Any other films you've produced?
Yes, but I’ve tucked those away in a very secluded and dark place never to be seen by human eyes as they were done while I was still in school, therefore the technical issues were not only obvious, but a character all its own.
From where do you draw inspiration for your work?
A little bit of everywhere, but lately, from different types of people. Noticing the way they talk, walk, dress, their background, ideas, their relationships and contradictions.
Do you engage in, or draw inspiration from, any other forms of art?
Photography has always been a great way to study composition, lighting and learning about the ability to tell an entire story in one shot. I think the freedom that literature allows leaves me in awe. And music’s influence over the entire vibe of anything is powerful.
What does a typical film-making day look like for you?
A complete and thorough meltdown, then a rebuilding of my entire being from the ground up (privately). After that, I go over shots with my cinematographer, go over the upcoming scenes with the actors and start shooting. I like doing a few days of rehearsing to flesh out ideas, so on the day of shooting I leave the performance up to the actors and I try to allow them the freedom to freely go where the scene takes them.
When you are not filming, how do you like to spend your time?
Usually staring at walls, but I’ve tried to incorporate more film viewing, collaborating with other artists and discovering Los Angeles’ many hidden gems.
All time favorite film?
My all time favorite film has changed every few years, but currently I have to say City of God. The story, the characters, the politics, the energy, everything about this film reminded me about the power that film viewing experience can give. What added to the enjoyment was the lack of special effects and Hollywood actors. Here was a great film because it was a great film, every aspect of what makes a movie was first class.
Are there any filmmakers, past or present, who strongly inform and influence your work?
Alfonso Cuaron, Darren Aronofsky, Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino, F. Gary Gray, Stanley Kubrick, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh, Zack Snyder, Woody Allen, M. Night Shyamalan, Park Chan Wook, Takashi Miike, just to name a few.
Are there any specific reoccurring themes or subjects that you explore and deal with most in your work?
I’ve really been into the idea of mental illness or mental instability as an opportunity to discover new perspectives about life. From A Clockwork Orange to The Dark Knight’s the joker, I like views that may be considered “off” as a great base to redefine our world and how we perceive each other. I think it’s a form of rebellion against practically everything and story-wise, that rebellion can be explored from different angles.
Why showcase with RAW?
RAW is the perfect venue to introduce my film to a diverse audience. At festivals, everyone attending is interested in the film medium, but at a RAW event, attendees know that they will be experiencing an array of different art forms. That audience may have a wider knowledge of art mediums to pull from when creating their opinion about my film, creating a more perceptive audience and one that I am excited to share my film with.
Any current rising stars within the genre that you would recommend we look out for?
A young student filmmaker from Little Rock, Arkansas named Julian Andrew Walker.
To learn more about filmmaker Maxwell Addae, visit: www.maxwelladdae.com