Born in 1949, Tarlé moved to London from France in 1968 with the goal of photographing rock bands. He is best known for his work with The Rolling Stones during the group’s exile in the south of France in 1971. His gorgeous black-and-white images infused with fine grain and incandescent lighting create an ethereal texture. His blue and violet tints were a huge influence on me. The images are simultaneously haunting and beautiful. My first student film ‘So Divine’ (2014) was very much an imitation of his visual style in a moving image form.
The son of celebrated novelist Kingsley Amis, Martin Amis was also born in 1949, in Swansea. His ideas around masculinity and contemporary identity are fascinating. Many of the tropes featured in his work, including frustrated male protagonists, pseudo-intellectuals, sadistic men and sociopathic women, as well as his wonderful prose are elements which have had an incredible effect on me. His dialogue is invigorating and self-hating, his disgusting anti-heroes are entertaining. It’s actually quite annoying to know that I will never write in the way he does, but he has years of practice. Many of his novels have noir overtones which again were influential. My first funded short film ‘Her Satanic Majesty’ (2016) bears similarities to his work and borrows certain themes.
Chaplin will always have a special place in my heart as a complete filmmaking maestro - someone who could write, act, direct, compose and choreograph. From his early short films to his masterful feature length projects, I have always been most impressed with how he uses editing and framing to express his ideas, which comedy critics often single out. Instead of just performing his gags on screen, his films build tension and suspense by intercutting between different storylines, something which comedy films still struggle to do successfully. My web series ‘Loud Hearts’ (2018) is basically a Chaplin imitation set in North London.
Enigmatic, talented and intellectually profound - three words which not only describe Malick’s films but the man himself. After a brief career as an intellectual, Malick began his career as part of the New Hollywood film-making wave in the 1970s. Characterised by a use of wide lenses, freestyle yet beautiful cinematography, improvisational dialogue and natural lighting, his movies are the complete opposite of the typical Hollywood film. Often aimless and ponderous, meditative yet stylised, often with great music both diegetic and non-diegetic, these works are best described as life in motion. I remember seeing ‘The Tree of Life’ (2011) in high school and being amazed. My newest film ‘Angie Lemaire’ (2019) is a tribute to Malick.
Ahead of VH1’s reboot of ‘Scream’, let’s take a minute to remember the man who started it all. Wes Craven, 76, died in 2015 after years of combatting brain cancer. His debut feature was the influential ‘Last House on the Left’ (1972), which marked the beginning of a longtime collaboration with editor Sean S. Cunningham. The BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) was so shocked by the film’s content that it denied Craven a certificate for cinema release.
Pre-dating ‘Scream’ by twelve years, Craven’s legendary ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ (1984) signalled a change in his approach to storytelling. Set in the fictional town of Springwood, Ohio, the film follows the deaths of several teenagers who are stalked and killed in their dreams (and subsequently killed in reality) by child murderer Freddy Krueger. ‘Meta’ is the key word here, as Craven draws many parallels between moviegoing, filmmaking and dreams. Grossing over $25 million at the US box office, the picture was met with unusually strong reviews. It spawned various sequels, remakes and even its own TV series.
In 1994, Craven released ‘Wes Craven’s New Nightmare’, which deepened his self-referential approach. In this movie, Freddy Krueger is portrayed as a fictional character who ends up stalking and murdering the film crew and actors involved in his cinematic adventures. This approach was taken even further in ‘Scream’ (1996), a picture in which both the protagonists and the killer are well aware of the horror genre’s conventions.
‘Scream’ opens with a classic scene featuring the sadistic Ghostface (Roger L. Jackson, voice) asking high school student Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) the fatal question: ‘what’s your favourite horror film?’ Becker is then savagely killed. Throughout the narrative (and its sequels), we discover more about the central character, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), who bears a special connection to the killer and his past. Wes Craven was a truly innovative and dedicated filmmaker. He managed to pioneer a whole genre unto himself (that’s not even an exaggeration) and is sorely missed.