We recently reviewed the weird, but great, found footage horror film “Be My Cat: a film for Anne”, by Adrian Tofei. In it, a film director will do anything to get Hollywood actress Anne Hathaway to star in his film. We were very intrigued by Adrian Tofei’s method approach to filmmaking, so we got in touch to get a few answers from the director of the upcoming feature “We Put The World To Sleep”.
IF: What draws you to found footage as a filmmaker, despite the general audience’s seemingly jaded concept of the genre? What do you think its virtues are, in the context of modern filmmaking?
AT: Multiple things. One is the realism. The camera is part of the story, so, if well done, the audiences have no elements to indicate that they’re watching a movie, which can increase empathy with the actors and the events and lead to a stronger movie experience. Another one is financial efficiency. Traditional filmmaking spends huge amounts of money on cinematography and sound to make the audiences forget that they’re watching everything through the lenses of a camera and hearing everything through microphones. Instead of that, if possible, cut all those costs and include the camera into the story of the movie, don’t try to make it invisible anymore. I talked more about all this in my found footage manifesto – https://adriantofei.com/writings/the-found-footage-manifesto. A third reason is that the found footage concept gives me a lot of freedom to improvise, for the maximum of authenticity. I work without a script, I shoot tens of hours of controlled and focused improvisation, and at the end I look at the footage as a documentary filmmaker and edit the story. It would be harder to do this with traditional filmmaking.
IF: What lessons have you learned making “Be My Cat” that you think would be valuable to aspiring filmmakers?
Venturing into the unknown in the right circumstances is the key for authenticity. Your past experiences can stop you from moving forward and being really creative. And other people’s experiences can stop you even more. Because most of the time, the things that worked in certain circumstances won’t work when the circumstances change (same with the things that didn’t work, they might work in different circumstances). It’s like those “how to become successful” recipes that most of the times are inefficient. Or those “what to avoid” articles that most of the times do not apply to everybody. That’s why I’m afraid to give any experience-based lessons to new filmmakers, because they might do more harm than good. But I do plan to write a book or an extensive article at some point detailing the process of working on the movie, to explain a set of principles that can be the frame for more authentic performances and more authentic fictional events caught on camera. Instead of saying what to do or what to avoid doing, I will talk about setting the circumstances that nurture creativity and authenticity that will lead everybody to discover their own specific path with does and don’ts.
IF: Did you actually try and contact Anne Hathaway before, during or after making the film? Just out of curiosity or to see what she thought of it all?
AT: I contacted her official representatives after I made the movie, to ask for support with promoting it.
You’re in the pre-production process for your next feature film. What can you tell us about it?
I cannot say anything more than what’s already in the Indiegogo campaign – https://igg.me/at/We-Put-the-World-to-Sleep
Fun question: you have the ability to work with anyone, living or dead, real or fictional, for a film project. Pitch your dream team crew (writer, director, DP, producer).
Well, I work without a script, so I don’t need a writer. I prefer producing my own movies. I can do myself the cinematography because of the found footage concept. But I would love to have Mo’Nique in one of my movies! Her performance in Precious might the best ever recorded on film! And as an actor, I would love to play in American Horror Story!