By Danny Moltrasi, August 9th, 2013
The 2011 avant-garde British film Black Biscuit is about outsiders. Director Fabrizio Federico holds them in very high regard. “I like being with these people, to me they are very warm.” The film constantly switches between cameras and stocks, creating contrasting feelings of realism and Brechtian reminders that this is only a film. “I didn’t care if the camera was barely working as long as it records,” and this creates a kaleidoscope of images that range from the blurry to the bizarre. Federico directed the film based on 19 beliefs, which he calls the Pink8 Manifesto. NoBudge speaks with him below about his experimental instincts and his manifesto:
NB: What made you decide to make 'Black Biscuit'?
FF: I wanted to make a film about the alternative lifestyles I had seen in my life. I sort of drift around different social groups and I found space cases and career outsiders to be something that wasn’t shown in cinema in a way that I wanted to see it. Their very fascinating characters and everyone at one point in their life has drifted not knowing what they were going to do with their lives. I also wanted to renounce certain cinema traditions I found outdated. It’s necessary to have your own style and I wanted to mix creative freedom with life and art. Not to tailor my work to a mass taste. You either love it or hate it. I do it by instinct with no script or funding and without professionals. I’ve been given books on filmmaking in the past at Xmas by my family but I never bothered to read them. Throughout the shoot nobody knew what they were doing, it was very erratic. Most of the cast were on drugs and had insane broken personal lives. Quite a few self harmed, and were either homeless or recovering from nervous breakdowns. But I liked being with these people, to me they were very warm. We were like a band of surreal conquistadors.
Pink8 Manifesto: >>>
Filming must be done without any preparation or a traditional script.
Your film must be made on no budget, just sporadic money.
The director must raise "get-by" money by finding a job that challenges their ethics.
Look for street superstars to be your cast.
Continuity is wrong.
Bewildering, vague, self-indulgent, plot-less, risky, egotistical, limpid, raw, ugly, and imperfect are perfect.
No HD Cameras.
(Full Manifesto Here)
NB: Black Biscuit is full of improvised scenes with people who are unaware of what the film was about. Why did you decide upon this?
FF: I didn’t want regular acting or for it to be a documentary, I was more interested in a reactionary existence and catching peoples blind trust. Everyone's the same we just have different problems; hookers, serial killers, grieving LSD casualties. I don’t understand why everyone has so many morals today, it’s like there's no trust anymore. A lot of scenes were based on old experiences, so the cast were just re-living an old memory but with more control over it. I'm sure it was therapeutic on some level. The whole film was an experiment in bringing a Punk/Rock & Roll looseness to cinema and killing off myths. I never do things the same way twice. The Pink8 manifesto is the formula for how it was made if you want a flash of the experience.
NB: I understand from reading your Pink8 Manifesto, that the financing came from "doing jobs that challenge your ethics", why did you decide upon this? Was it due to frustrations with financing in general, or other reasons?
FF: It’s more having to do with pushing your own personal boundaries and bending your mind. Finding money isn’t a stretch, all you have to do is ask a bank for a loan if you want some backing to make a character driven film, they're pretty cheap to make. But pushing your spirit and seeing where it takes you. It’s good to be crazy and expect disaster at every corner. It keeps you on your toes. The scenes have a strong bond with Vietnam in 1969, ghosts and the Ten Commandments and how people go about breaking them. Or trying to answer ‘how much is your soul worth ?’ It’s a modern world dilemma. A lot of people are stuck working in jobs that they hate and are missing out on pursuing their dreams because they don't challenge themselves. It’s as if the characters in Black Biscuit are hanging out at the crossroads with the devil waiting for a free hand out, and it never appears.
Watch Black Biscuit in its 127 minute entirety below...