Larry Clark: Marfa Gurl

The Pioneering Filmmaker Reveals His Personal Directorial Notes

Handwritten snippets of dialogue, mysterious phone numbers and location ideas are scrawled across the pages of incendiary director Larry Clark’s production notes, made during the filming of his new feature, Marfa Girl. “His process is loose,” says Matt Black, director of yesterday’s video feature on Clark, of the legendary filmmaker’s methods. “He did a first draft of 25 pages, and then as he was shooting he’d collect little visual ideas, such as ‘guy with a gold tooth’, ‘scene at a swimming pool’, or ‘boy gives girl a medallion of Jesus’.” Released in the form of a limited edition facsimile published by Boo-Hooray, Marfa Gurl, the notebooks provide unrivaled insight into Clark’s creative mind, famous for finding beauty in the sordid side of adolescence in America. His latest film was inspired by a visit to contemporary artist Christopher Wool’s home in Marfa, a West Texas desert town that has become an unlikely destination for a creative elite fascinated by its minimalist sculptural installations but largely ignorant of its small-town drifters and melting-pot community. Starring first-time actors Adam Mediano and Drake Burnette, the film and its accompanying archive of ideas and inspiration show that the veteran Clark has little interest in slowing down his investigations. “Larry is 69 now and still has this mad energy,” says Black. “He continues to have a drive to depict America and its youth, the subcultures we don’t see.” 

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  • TODAY'S EXTRA
    TODAY'S EXTRA

    An Outerlands Thanksgiving

    San Franciscans Put a Pacific Coast Spin on the Communal Feast for Photographer Todd Hido

    A driftwood and timber décor sets the tenor for a locally sourced Thanksgiving feast at San Francisco’s Outerlands restaurant in this photo series by award-winning lensman Todd Hido. Owned by husband-and-wife team Dave Muller and Lana Porcello, the eight-table eatery was conceived as a space in which the nearby creative community could gather, work and grab a bowl of hot soup in the foggy Outer Sunset district. It quickly became one of the most dynamic culinary destinations in San Francisco, with people coming from around the Bay Area—and the world—to sample chef Brett Cooper’s inspiring yet comforting dishes. Muller and Porcello opened Outerlands in 2009 after befriending John McCambridge, whose radical surf store and gallery Mollusk first defined the windswept creative identity that now echoes through the neighborhood. “Our house became the other half of the shop, and people were always coming over and getting surf boards or suiting up,” Porcello explains of the venue's intimate genesis. “The back window became a kind of service counter, so if we were cooking we’d say, ‘Oh you’re here, well, have a little of this!’” Their Thanksgiving tradition is appropriately home-grown.  “We do a stay-in-the-city meal for everyone who can’t go home,” says Porcello. “People from the neighborhood come and cook here, too.” For this early holiday feast, speckled castelfranco lettuces with sliced persimmons and candied chestnuts were passed around with family-style platters of tender Brussels sprouts and fermented onions, cranberry and almond and magnums of 2008 Baker Lane Vineyards Estate Syrah. A black cod strewn with fennel flowers was served in place of the traditional turkey—this outlying area may have evolved and expanded over the last seven years, but it still derives its elemental character from the ocean.

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  • ON REPLAY
    ON REPLAY

    Florence and the Machine: Lover to Lover

    The English Songstress Performs a Tale of American Heartbreak in Vincent Haycock's New Video

    A relationship falls apart in the desert towns and fog-soaked coast of California as the baroque pop chanteuse and Karl Lagerfeld and Gucci muse Florence Welch takes on a cinematic role in this second collaboration with LA-based director Vincent Haycock. After helming the narrative music video for Welch’s Calvin Harris-produced disco hit “Sweet Nothing”, Haycock wanted to further explore singer’s interest in acting in his film for “Lover to Lover”, the latest single from her hit sophomore album Ceremonials. “She wasn’t just Florence, she was playing a character,” he says. “It was exciting to take someone who’s built such an iconic visual style, with the floaty dresses and distinct look of her videos, and do something really different.” Performing opposite Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn, who stars alongside Brad Pitt in the forthcoming flick, Killing Them Softly, Welch's on-screen interpretation echoes the track’s heart-aching refrain, “There’s no salvation for me now.” Beginning in a drab Los Angeles house and building to a cathartic gospel frenzy, the romance ends as the lovesick heroine disappears amid mist into the Pacific Ocean. “The waves were enormous, it was freezing cold and four in the morning—I was weeping all the way in I was so scared,” recounts the MTV Award-winning singer, laughing. “It was the most intense experience because we shot the whole day before; I went back to the hotel, slept for three hours, woke up and dove into the sea.”

    How did the concept for this character come about? 
    I was going through a phase where I was thinking about what I wanted from life, asking, do I want a husband and a child? Why do I think I need that? 

    What was it like to film such intense scenes with a proper actor like Ben Mendelsohn? 
    It was an emotional day and it brought up a lot of things. I’d come to the end of this massive tour and just needed to go home. I was tired and disoriented because Southern California doesn't have seasons--everything's getting cold back home and the leaves are falling but in LA everything’s in this stasis. I think I was screaming, “This isn’t real, I don’t know what’s going on!" and Ben was screaming back, “You’re here, you’re here!”

    Did you have a script? 
    It was completely improvised. I had to think about things that I was actually angry and upset about. It is cathartic, but you have to literally let yourself go. Ben is so sweet and accommodating--afterwards he gave me this massive hug and made me feel so comfortable. 

    Do you plan to take some time off now? 
    I’m not going to tour for a year after this one. I’ve been doing it since I was 21 and I think it’s time really to settle into moving out of my mum's! But I’m not going to stop writing. Playing live is my biggest passion, but I’ve got a lot of ideas, and I need the space to work on them.

    (Read More)

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