Plastic Love: Interview with Writer/Director/Editor/Producer Jamie Hooper

Jamie Hooper writing Plastic Love

The Squeerelist - You wrote, directed, edited and produced Plastic Love. Taking control of the entire production seems to be ideal to stay true to your message and your style. It can also be a double-edged sword, as you may not have enough external perspective on your work. Can you tell us about your process to avoid being trapped in self-criticism?
Jamie Hooper - Pretty much the only reason I took on all those roles is because I self financed the film and couldn’t afford to pay people to do it. I generally write, direct and edit my films as I love those three aspects of filmmaking. I think it’s good for directors to know how to edit as it makes them much more efficient with their shot selection and coverage. If I could never produce again it’d be too soon, I’d love to find a like-minded producer who I could collaborate with.
Everything in a film has to push the story forward so if doesn’t do that it has to go. I think I’m a fairly brutal editor and I try not to get too precious with my own footage. If something can be removed and the story still flows then it gets removed. Due to the nature of how Plastic Love was made I had a long time in post production, which gave me chance to leave the film and not think about if for a few weeks, then come back to it with fresh eyes and a clean perspective. If I ever feel I need outside perspective I’ll just show a film to some trusted friends for their constructive feedback. 

The core topic of your movie is sexuality but you cleverly chose not to display any nudity. Was it a personal commitment or a precaution for your movie not to be segregated from the market?
The only reason there’s no nudity in the film is because it wasn’t necessary to tell the story. I was already asking my actors to do some fairly extreme things so adding nudity into the mix was just completely unnecessary. If you can portray something without showing it I always find it’s much more effective. People’s imaginations are generally much better than anything you can ever show them. For instance as soon as you see the monster in a horror film it tends to lose all tension as it gives the danger a face, and that face is pretty much never as scary as what we have in our heads. If I can tell a story about sexuality and fetishes without showing any nudity then I don’t see any need to include it, that would turn the film into titillation and I wanted to completely avoid that.

What went through your mind when Plastic Love got selected to screen at Cannes?
I was elated. Cannes is such a prestigious festival that it can only help to be mentioned in the same sentence. My company, Fingercuff, had two films at Cannes this year, so it was especially exciting.

Your style clearly stands out from what most theaters dare to offer. You choose to explore people’s darkest side and desires. Do you want to reach a specific target or do you place yourself as a mind-opener of the broad audience?
I never really have a specific target audience in mind for my films. I make the films I want to make because the subject interests me or I have a lingering idea that won’t go away. Plastic Love is a very adult film dealing with adult topics and if some people decide not to watch it for those reasons that’s entirely their choice. Obviously I want as many people to see my film as possible but I’m fully aware the subject matter isn’t for everyone.

Some people often mistake movies about sex for pornography. Do you have a message for them?
If people genuinely do that I think it says more about them than anything else. You don’t have to show explicit footage to explore sexuality, just like you don’t need to show gore for a film to be scary. Pornography is purely made to arouse and for sexual gratification. I would class Plastic Love as ribaldry.

Is Europe the sacred land for controversial filmmakers?
That’s a difficult question to answer, to be honest I have no idea. From my experience European cinema tends to explore a wider range of controversial subjects than say American cinema does. Saying that, there are plenty of American filmmakers who explore dark and controversial subjects; unfortunately for them they’re at the mercy of the MPAA (i.e. Motion Picture Association of America). I think in Europe we might be slightly more open to watching films about sexuality, which seems to be a big no-no in America.

Is there any advice you’d like to share with aspiring filmmakers?
I don’t really feel like I’m in a position to give advice. Filmmaking is such a weird and malleable art it can be approached in so many different ways. It sounds clich├ęd but if you want to make a film just go and make it, there’s really no excuse not to these days. Make films that interest you and not what you think people want to see. Be true to yourself.

More on Plastic Love and Jamie Hooper's projects at http://www.jamhoop.com/

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