Q: You’ve said that you want your movies to look as fake as possible. What do you mean?
Christopher Hide: Well, I just think the whole Dogma 95 thing has gone much, much too far. No offense to Richard Linklater, but just look at Tape — three people in a small, dimly lit hotel room for two hours. Not much there. Since when did ugliness become so highly regarded?
Q: Okay, but Tape is not officially a Dogma film, is it?
Hide: Whatever. You know what I mean. It amounts to a Dogma film. The washed out, faded look. Natural light. Nothing artificial, supposedly. But it all seems rather far-fetched, doesn’t it? The overwrought emotion. Dancer in the Dark, Gummo, The Celebration, Blair Witch, Time Code. I’m weary of movies that look real. I want the old fakery back. Isn’t that what movies are all about?
Q: What kind of movies do you have in mind?
Hide: Anything from the 1950s or 60s. Hitchcock, for example. At least you always know you’re watching a movie with a Hitchcock film. Take the scene in The Birds, with Tippi Hedren against the wall with her back to the camera and the birds coming at her. Hitchcock really threw live birds at her, did you know?
Q: So today’s movies have no style?
Hide: Sure they do. I’m not saying that. But in the service of realism, not illusion. You know what the fakest movie ever made was? Superfly. Of course it’s — well you know, it’s a movie about blacks kicking some white ass, so it’s never gotten the recognition it deserves. There’s one great chase scene in an alley, and the strap from the camera falls down in front of the lens, and someone’s hand comes into the frame for a split second to pull it away.
Q: Any others?
Hide: Well, there’s The Others. Absolutely unreal. You never believe it for a moment. Never. And my new one, The Benders.
Q: Can we talk a little bit about that?
Hide: Oh, and Insomnia. The remake. Not one ounce of reality. Or the entire Tennenbaum movie.
Q: Can I ask you about a scene in The Benders?
Q: It’s near the end of the film, and Paul is supposed to be dreaming about the man with the knife outside his house, but there’s a flaw when he wakes up and —
Hide: It’s not a flaw. There’s a big difference between flaw and fake. I’d like to think there’s clarity in that difference.
Q: Right, I don’t mean to fault the film, but the scene we’re talking about, how could Paul have known in his dream — if it was a dream — that there really was a man outside his house?
Hide: I don’t understand what that has to do with being fake. Please, Nick. Let me just say, the scene is supposed to be like that. See, that’s the whole problem with this craze for reality and the real. Now people expect it in everything they see. The pressure is enormous. Well, I’m sorry, not everything is real, and not everything that’s not real is bad.
Q: You’re defending illusion?
Hide: It’s underrated, sure. In the sense of we want everything to look real now. The real is unchecked. I’m not one of those militants or anything, but it’s got to be stopped. It’s finally impossible to live up to. Illusion has lost its charm, and that’s a shame. It truly is. I’m proud to say that The Benders doesn’t have one real-looking scene in it. I realize it sounds kind of ridiculous to say that. But it’s time to start having some fun again.
Q: I heard you had some problems with cameras on The Benders. Care to talk about that?
Hide: Not really. I mean, I can laugh about it now, sort of, but it really wasn’t funny at the time.
Q: I take it they just kept breaking?
Hide: Yeah. And stolen. But mostly breaking. One or two breaking over the course of a shoot, that’s understandable, right? But seventeen?
Q: That’s got to be more than coincidence.
Hide: Tell me about it.
Hide: [No response]
Q: I take it you don’t want to go into that.
Q: Okay. So I hear you were a visiting professor for a semester last year. How was that?
Hide: Oh, it was fun. Everyone was very gracious and understanding. I taught a film class at Detroit University. They wanted reality, I gave them hoaxes. In big doses. Everything I did was against proof and truth. We watched Dead Man seven times.
Q: The number seven. You’ve mentioned it several times.
Hide: Have I? Coincidence. I just want to say one more thing — the sooner we dispense with the illusion of reality, especially in movies, the better. I don’t mean to sound moralistic or anything, but I just don’t see what it can lead to except greater and greater discontentment. And that’s why I continue to make films, to offer some kind of alternative, albeit an imperfect one. You know, cinema has worked for over a hundred years to break free from the shackles of documentary, and now all that works is being undone by the Dogmatists and the like. I just want to offer an alternative to that, that’s all. The truth is, I don’t have a choice. My back is against the wall. Do you know what I mean? Does that make sense to you?