Back in the 80s, decades before the bankers brought the world to its knees, it was the Yuppie who rode high on the wave of astronomical bonuses and ostentatiously paraded their good fortunate through an arms race of materialistic consumption. That is the playground in which filmmaker Nathaniel Lindsay sets his satirical comedy short Green Eyed, in which a successful yuppie finds himself locked in a battle of oneupmanship with a Nosferatic ghoul who appears bent on usurping his social status. Lindsay joins DN to explain how he transported us back to the heady days of 80s’ excess.
So materialism, oneupmanship, jealousy and…a ghoulish competitor, what 80s’ narcotics led you to the story of Green Eyed?
Lots of cocaine and Perrier water while listening to Dire Straits. I guess about a year before the film went in to production I visited the location by chance it had quite an Overlook Hotel kind of effect on me. Also at the time I was writing another film that was becoming way too saccharin and twee so I cleansed the palette via chic neon-noir and snark.
Philippe’s appearance could be read as Lloyd’s projection of his own inner ugliness as a person. Are the other characters truly oblivious to his ghoulish nature or does his brilliance in other areas make it a non-issue to them?
Both. To me it isn’t so much a story about who or what Philippe is as about Lloyd and a deconstruction of his values and materialism. The combination of literal meaning and metaphor interests me a lot and applying it for dry humour and satire feels like a good fit. I like to think with his horrific appearance being a non-issue countered by his brilliance; his presence essentially just becomes a mirror reflecting Lloyd back on to himself.
The combination of literal meaning and metaphor interests me a lot and applying it for dry humour and satire feels like a good fit.
The performances from your talented cast are perfectly on the nose for the story. What were your methods to ensure the acting hit the correct parodying tone without slipping into the ridiculous?
I think just getting well-read, talented actors who ‘get’ the sensibility. I hand picked Mark, Penny and Ben as I’d known them socially or were familiar with their work as actors and rather than a cold audition we would sit down and discuss the film, their character and the overall dry, sardonic tone. Also I got Mark to watch American Gigolo and got him to read some Bret Easton Ellis and John Cheever.
The mask is excellent and calls to mind the blood sucking Nosferatu. How was it created and how was it for Luke Brown to perform beneath it?
It was important the prosthetic mask of Philippe be convincingly biological and integrated to the ordinariness of everyday life (as well as Nosferatu, a reference point I had was the work of Chris Cunningham) so we could get that juxtaposition of well composed retro glamour combined with surrealistic horror; meshing the two perfectly. Creating the Philippe mask took a lot of time. We met with several people, but for the most part it was way too expensive for our budget and impractical. Eventually we opted for Paul Smits, who works primarily as a fine art sculptor rather than a SPFX guy. We were lucky enough that he was able to cast and work in silicone as a friend of his had some left over, otherwise it would have costs us tens of thousands to do that.
Luke is an absolute champ; the makeup being heavy silicone with no padding and poor visibility was awkward to keep on let alone wear while dancing, playing tennis, falling into a swimming pool, etc. We would remove the makeup between takes and have a crew member stand over him with an umbrella to keep the heat of the sun off him, but it’s testament to his work ethic and commitment as an actor that he is always willing to give it his absolute best. I’ve used him in some other projects of mine and it always results in me requiring some kind of hard physical endurance; you could say it’s a Herzog/Kinski relationship except we’ve never tried to kill each other.
Green Eyed as a film looks as lavish as the narrative’s setting. What was your shooting setup?
We shot on the ARRI Alexa with Cooke S4’s. Lighting kit was minimal, practical tungsten units, an array of kino’s, some 1.2k HMI’s and tungsten fresnels. The shoot was for five days, with a crew of about twenty-five people. On the evening of the cocktail party we had about thirty extras drive up which then ballooned the shoot to around sixty people on set. Attention to the detail is really important in my work. Finding a cherry-red Porsche 911 is actually a lot harder than you imagine, let alone then needing to take it to the shooting location; a five hour drive outside the city. The outfit the character Dennis wore at the party is a recreation of a suit Bryan Ferry wore in Roxy Music and Penny’s looks were all very Jerry Hall. Even things down to having the right kind of cordless phone and sunglasses were considered.
You’ve previously mentioned your musical love of Tangerine Dream and Giorgio Moroder. Did you point composers Ben Browning and Mark Wilson at any 80s’ soundtracks in particular?
Both Ben and Mark are quite accomplished in their own careers (Ben being a member of Cut Copy and Mark formerly of Jet); they both have a passion and encyclopaedic love of electronic music and soundtracks so we were all on the same page when we’d discuss music. The two main references we discussed in the initial stages were Tangerine Dream’s score to Risky Business and Moroder’s work on Midnight Express, as well as things like the song Supernature by Cerrone and a lot of the bands on the Italians Do It Better label, which I like a lot. Mark has a home studio with an impressive analog-synth set up, which is really cool. They’re both so good at what they do and know their stuff both technically and artistically so it was pretty quick for us to get the soundtrack sorted.
Being online almost seems more important and has such a greater impact than pursuing the old world idea of a long festival run.
Green Eyed premiered at Fantastic Fest last year and has picked up a Vimeo Staff Pick now it’s made its way online. Do you have more plans for the film? What’s next for you?
Now that the film is released I’m just happy for people to watch it. I feel that the way the industry has changed and with the way we watch and consume film, being online almost seems more important and has such a greater impact than pursuing the old world idea of a long festival run. I’ve recently moved from Melbourne to living in Brooklyn, so hopefully I can work as writer and director both here in New York and Los Angeles and make films that interest me and people who have the same taste for cinema.