“The most important thing about film for me is substance, I don’t believe in style without substance – I think style is important to serve the characters and serve the story, but that being said I’m someone who likes a film that is enhanced reality, we get enough reality in our life, when I see film I want something that is more beautiful.”
A Single Man Director and fashion designer Tom Ford skyped into the first-ever Australian screening of his new feature Nocturnal Animals, which the filmmaker both wrote and directed. Adapted from the novel ‘Tony and Susan’ by Austin Wright, the live Q&A event took place at Sydney’s Randwick Ritz Cinema and was hosted by The People’s Republic of Movies (PROM).
“I love challenging myself,” Ford told the audience following the screening, streaming live from the London Film Festival. “The skill set that you need to be a designer or a creative director and the skill set you need as a director are not dissimilar, you have to have something to say, you have to have a point of view, you have to hire very creative people to help you realise that and you have to create an environment where those people can give you their very best.”
Boasting an A-list cast including Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Arnie Hammer, Nocturnal Animals, to be released in cinemas on November 10, centres on gallery-owner and socialite Susan (Adams) who is suddenly contacted by her estranged first husband (Gyllenhaal) who offers her the manuscript of his new novel. Dedicated to Susan, the pages take on a separate, albeit related narrative strand in the film as Amy recalls her former and now very different state of affairs.
“Amy (Adam’s) character, when we see her contemporaneously, she’s a manufactured version of what she used to be, her hair is dead-straight, there’s a superficiality to her look,” said Ford. “The way characters look, what they wear has to tell a story and help you understand who that person is.”
“Contemporary culture tells us that happiness is achievable where we’re just happy all the time… For me the human condition is we have happy moments we have sad moments, devastating things happen to us and sometimes through those comes transformation, you won’t believe it but I actually found the end of this movie uplifting.”
“I think that this film for me has to say something, I guess I’m old-fashioned in that there has to be a moral to the story and this story for me was really about finding more in your life that means something to you, it’s really a cautionary tale about what can happen.”
A hyper-realistic and at times devastating film, Ford laboured over adapting the novel’s highly resonant themes and sprawling set of characters for his first screen project in seven years.
“A friend of mine told me about the book, I sat down and read it, it was an absolute page-turner and I loved it,” said Ford. “It’s really an internal monologue and I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to make it cinematic and how I was going to tell the story creatively, it took me a while to figure that out.”
“The book is the book and the film is the film, for me I take what speaks to me about the book and then put the book aside and then create a cinematic experience that hopefully says the same thing and maintains the parts of the book that spoke to me.”
“I wasn’t trying to recreate any other film from any other filmmaker but of course it’s also embedded in your hard drive, when you’re making something there will be references, in this particular genre Hitchcock stands out, Kubrick, De Palma.”
With only two films under his belt thus far, Ford teased the prospect of more projects in the near future.
“I certainly hope it does not take another seven years,” said Ford. “I’m working on it now, a screenplay, as opposed to an adaptation.”