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by Mark Elijah Rosenberg
May 24th, 2011

On Saturday, May 28, Rooftop Films will host the US Premiere of Malcolm Murray’s fiction film Bad Posture, a nuanced, visually inventive vista of young life in Albuquerque. Getting ready for the premiere, I asked the director about the production, some of the themes, and the dreamy badass tone of the film.

Rooftop Films: Please let our readers know a little bit about your film.

Malcolm Murray: Like everyone on screen in Bad Posture, I grew up in Albuquerque. My mom didn’t let me watch tv or movies very often, but the ones I did see generally took place far away from New Mexico. Recently, due to tax credits, Hollywood has come to town, but I still haven’t seen a film that captures Albuquerque as I remember it. My main goal in making Bad Posture was to make something that feels like New Mexico actually feels like.

Bad Posture is the first narrative feature I’ve directed and the first narrative feature Florian Brozek has written. Many of the people involved in the project had never been on a feature set, or any set at all. Some of them thought we were joking when we asked them to be in our film. Though we had a solid plan in place, we were all constantly surprised by what we captured and we had some incredible adventures along the way. I think this is a pretty wide-eyed film and I have tried at all stages to keep it pure, and not let decorum, money, ego, or any of the usual suspects color our goals or the way we’ve worked. Our producers, Lucy Bickerton, and Neda Armian, embraced and supported this vision and kept us safe and kept most of the cast out of jail during most of our shoot.

RF: There’s a constant edge of danger and violence in Bad Posture, but the film also maintains this beguiling, mellow vibe. One of the few scenes of actual violence plays out like a blissful hallucination, while others are played for subtle comedy. How did you settle on and achieve this tone?

MM: The atmosphere you’re describing is what I experience when I’m spending time in Albuquerque. I tried to capture that feeling as I directed and particularly as I edited this film. Florian tried to capture that feeling as he wrote the script. We let our experiences guide us. I love Albuquerque because there are so many conflicting things to feel all at once.

RF: Your previous film—Camera, Camera—was a documentary. Can you tell us about the switch from non-fiction to fiction, and about your process for developing and making Bad Posture?

MM: Bad Posture is a fictional script but is populated by real people playing versions of themselves. Tabatha Shaun, who plays Marisa, was the only actor who had ever been on a set. My big job as director of this film was to create an environment where everyone trusted me and trusted each other and felt comfortable revealing themselves on screen. I have the same task when I’m directing a documentary.

Whether I’m making a documentary or a narrative, I’m interested in capturing the character of the place where I’m shooting. In Camera, Camera it was Laos, In Bad Posture, it’s Albuquerque. As I thought about how to shoot this film I kept coming back to my experiences as a young kid who spent lots of time alone simply watching things happen. I tried to keep my camera understated and observational, perhaps like a younger version of myself—quiet, a bit shy. I thought of my camera as another person in the scene, and a person can only turn his head, which is for many scenes all the camera does, if anything.

RF: You wrote that your film is a love story in which the romance is doomed from the start, but of course the daring nature of the start of this romance is exactly what makes it so hard-fought and hopeful. Can you talk about the divide between daring and doomed in love and in movie-making, or in where they intersect in Bad Posture?

MM: I think love always requires a leap of faith and I’ve never been had a relationship that began at the perfect time and way for both me and my partner. I’ve never had to explain a stolen car to a prospective girlfriend though. I think that Flo’s and Marisa’s romance is hopeful and hopeless at the same time. It’s almost like they are stuck on a raft in the middle of the ocean. It’s great to have company, but you’re still on a raft. Except in this film the ocean is a New Mexican desert and the sun is beating down. Maybe that sounds too morose. I actually think there are a lot of hopeful things about this film. I think these characters could survive anything and have fun in any situation.

And I guess that’s what independent filmmaking is all about- hope though the odds are completely against you. We had an amazing amount of fun making this film, though our raft was all the time taking on water.

RF: At Rooftop, we call for films that show us “where you live and how you live,” as a means of immersing our audiences in otherwise unexplored communities. Can you tell us more about Albuquerque, and this community, as a place and character in your film?

MM: I’m not sure what draws people to Albuquerque but there is a vibrant community of grafitti writers, hip hop heads, kleptomaniacs, turquoise jewelry-wearers, and cowboys. Some people seem to running away from something, others toward something, and then there are the young people who grew up there and don’t know anything else. I really wanted the place to come through as a character and set up numerous wide shots where the characters are far enough away from the camera that it almost feels like the landscape is speaking rather than the people in it. Our hope is that Bad Posture will take introduce viewers to an area and to people they might not otherwise get to meet.

RF: What else are you working on now?

MM: I’m developing two new narrative features and one documentary feature. And shooting commercials because it’s nearly impossible to make a living as an independent filmmaker.

RF: What’s next for Bad Posture, where else can people see it?

MM: We’re figuring that out right now. We’re playing in a bunch of European festivals and figuring out the next steps for America.

RF: Bad Posture is having its US Premiere at Rooftop Films on May 28. How are you feeling about it?

MM: We had a great reception in Rotterdam but this will be our first US audience. I’m a bit nervous but also quite excited. I find it interesting to watch the way different audiences react to the same film. I’m curious to sit with a crowd in New York, on a rooftop, of all places! A bunch of people are coming out from New Mexico and we’re all looking forward to a rowdy after party.

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Come join Malcolm, his crew, and Rooftop for that rowdy party and this daring film. Get tickets now.

Check out more Rooftop filmmaker interviews.

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One Response to “Filmmaker Interview: Malcolm Murray (“Bad Posture”)”

  1. [...] Bad Posture director Malcolm Murray was interviewed by IFFR, which you can find here. Since the interview is in Dutch, you can find another, english, interview by Rooftop Films here. [...]

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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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