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Interview with James Maximilian Jason

Filmmaker Feature

Film Interview by Chris Olson

We recently reviewed a piece of interactive cinema, titled "Beneath the Snow". Have explored the depths, twists, and turns of that indie film, UK Film Review were lucky enough to interview one of the brains behind it, filmmaker James Maximilian Jason. Can you tell us who Gothic are? A bit about the history and the people involved? Also a bit about yourself.

The Gothic Multimedia Project is an ever-changing ensemble of musicians, artists, actors, graphics and technicians devoted to multimedia art. Specifically a dark and avant-garde multimedia art project where interactivity is the key to turn the viewer/listener/reader, traditionally conceived as a “passive audience”, into a status of “creative master” of the opus itself. Gothic Multimedia Project was born as a band in 1989 and, after a series of musical works, evolved into a multimedia ensemble in the early 2000's. Although I am the founding member and “the mind behind the curtain”, the Gothic Multimedia Project has no leaders but only two core members, me and David [Bosch], who is “the spirit above” our ensemble. Around us is a constantly changing “crew” of eclectic people who help us to translate our visionary concepts into reality. As far as I'm concerned what can I say? I was born as a composer, then I began multimedia artistry, particularly involved in video-art and eventually I graduated as a sound-engineer and started my work as professional SE in my AfterDusk Studio producing other projects/bands, as well as Gothic of course. What was the genesis for your huge indie film/multimedia project Beneath the Snow: Piovono Ombre? And can you tell us a bit about the role of music, poetry, and art in the film?

Believe it or not but the idea of such a mammoth work raised from a recurring nightmare I had when I was a kid. More than ten years ago I reprised and developed that nightmare and began working around it. Little by little hesitant branches grew from that raw log, engraving the film and all the stories within, as it is nowadays. Usually music serves as a soundtrack in a film, poetry can be a lyrical outline of the plot and art is usually excluded from a powerful medium like film. “Beneath the Snow – Piovono Ombre” is quite the opposite because here the film and its stories, developed according to the “Mobius strip” technique, are the dark lines leading to the heart of the opus, which is our “unholy trilogy” of sound, image and word: music, art and poetry. Just like in our previous multimedia works [“Clam, Dolenter”, 2010 and “Grim”, 2004] but under the lens of a different means of artistic expression: the film. What would you say are the strengths and weaknesses of a film like this? In terms of having so many collaborators, and from different artistic mediums?

I guess the strongest point and the weakest point are quite the same one: BTS-PO is a pioneering opus because here, for the very first time, we have an interactive film focusing on multimedia arts through a maze of parallel stories within the main story. The work represents a challenge for those open-minded people who are so brave to put their mind through the wringer, facing their inner demons. This is the strong point of the work whereas the downside is that most people are not willing to engage so much of themselves in such a complex oeuvre. Maybe for these very reasons we can say that a market for multimedia art simply doesn't exist... and so you will grasp how hard the promotion of an innovative work like this is: there are no film festivals, no movie theatres ready to show your film and, believe me, only very few avant-garde and multimedia magazines accepted to review our “creature”.

The fact that so many people (exactly twenty-eight) collaborated from different perspectives but toward a common artistic direction was undoubtedly a unique experience which enriched my soul.

What was the funding situation for Beneath the Snow? Did you self-finance, Kickstarters?

David and I self-financed everything, from the shooting to the film editing, from the audio recording to the realisation of the booklet, from the DVD printing and duplication to the promotion of the finished opus. It was a hell of a financial commitment but we never cared about the money we could get from the Gothic Multimedia Project since we strongly think the real and the most true form of art is “art for art's sake”: the rest is what we call “art exploitation” and we have been never interested in this kind of business. Beneath the Snow is interactive cinema, something on the rise. Do you feel a bit like a pioneer of the genre? And what do you feel is the future of it? How does Beneath the Snow differ from others like it?

BTS-PO is interactive cinema, sure, but definitely much more than this: it's experimental cinema mixed with video-art but it's avant-garde music too (except for the two main soundtracks, “Arcano Arcaico” and “Sons of a Sun without Light”), it's cryptic poetry, it's theatre of the absurd, dark figurative art and daring non-representational art.

We can call it a “new media art-film”: the word “interactive film” reminds me something closer to the world of gaming rather than to our conception of extreme multimedia, where the viewer leaves his role of passive dummy in the hands of the artist and becomes the master of the opus and eventually an artist himself.

We can be considered the pioneers of a certain kind of multimedia art taken to its extremes: after all “Beneath the Snow – Piovono Ombre” is neither a film in the traditional meaning of the word nor a digital art gallery and it's neither a musical album nor a collection of poetry: it's all of them and more than their arithmetic sum. I can't and I don't want to tag “Beneath the Snow” as something clear since I'd like people to appreciate this “thing” for what it could give them in terms of emotions rather than for what it appears to be (but is not). Who are your inspirations for filmmaking? Including any legends outside and inside film.

Well, David Lynch is a longtime source of inspiration for me... but I could name other visionary filmmakers like Aronofsky, Cronenberg, Ken Russell, Sokurov, E. Elias Merhige, Lars von Trier and Kieslowski. Nonetheless one director impressed me for his ability to draft amoral characters even in some leading roles: he is Mario Bava and I think films as Rabid Dogs and Black Sunday should be an object of study in any high schools and especially in art schools. What is next for Gothic, and you in particular?

Following Gothic's tradition we will work for something radically different from “Beneath the Snow -Piovono Ombre”. Tradition means also to not create a steady tradition or whatever expectation by the audience and we intend to pursue our aim to release unprecedented, pioneering and challenging works, constantly changing our “fields” of arts and our means of artistic expression. The only thing Gothic fans can be sure of is that we will try to offer a new way to express our concepts of multimedia art, conceived as syncretic and indivisible union of music, art and poetry, going all the way through “user interaction” with the work of art. What would you say if you were a dolphin?

“Follow me and”, (quoting a famous painting by David Lynch), “I will take you in a world for which you have no understanding..."

Click here to visit the Facebook page for Gothic Multimedia Project, or visit their website here. You can also enjoy the official Movie Trailer for Beneath the Snow: Piovono Ombre below...


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