Skype chat between Greg’s First Day Director Scott Otto Anderson and Writer Lally Katz. 13/05/2013
(Lally and Scott are having an audio chat, only Lally is losing her voice, and thus not saying anything, only typing her responses. This goes on for a few minutes until they both decide to type.)
[13/03/13 4:31:53 PM] Scott Otto Anderson:
[13/05/13 12:59:02 PM] Scott Otto Anderson:
Hello Lally. I'm ready.
[13/05/13 1:00:11 PM] Lally Katz:
Hey Scott! I'm here and ready too!
Scott Otto Anderson (speaking): Hi!
[13/05/13 1:00:43 PM] Lally Katz:
Hey Scott - I answered and can hear you.
Scott Otto Anderson (speaking): But you’re not using your voice at all?
[13/05/13 1:00:58 PM] Lally Katz:
Yeah, I have to rest it today because I'm close to losing it
[13/05/13 1:01:03 PM] Lally Katz:
I pretty much don’t talk on mondays
[13/05/13 1:01:09 PM] Lally Katz:
and then am ready to use it again tuesday
Scott Otto Anderson (speaking): Do you speak to your cat?
[13/05/13 1:01:21 PM] Lally Katz:
Scott Otto Anderson (speaking): I can see a picture of you with a black and white cat.
[13/05/13 1:01:29 PM] Lally Katz:
Oh the cat! Nooooo. Up to you - might be good to type so we have it recorded, or you can speak and just remember what you say? Or you can record it speaking.
Scott Otto Anderson (speaking): I think I’ll just type.
Scott Otto Anderson:
Where do we begin?
Maybe at the very beginning? What the initial idea was? That we wanted to do a project together?
Oh, yeah! There was that! After we worked on a play at STC together. And had talked about doing a film for three or four years!
Yes! And originally you were thinking that we should do something about the character of the Apocalypse Bear, but then my brother kept telling me that I had to write something about the Financial Crisis and he wanted me to write something about a young man at the beginning of his career when the financial crisis hits and an older man late in his career and how it affects both of them. I kept telling him I wasn't interested in it. But then when I sat down to write our Apocalypse Bear film, I wrote this one instead.
SOA: Your brother works in finance, right?
LK: Yes - he was working as an economic forecaster, but then the company he worked for went bust after the GFC. He then started up a hedgefund and also works in macro economics, helping refugees and finance people to build businesses together.
SOA: I’ve met your brother, he’s a nice change from the image of the ‘Banker’ we are used to seeing. You had started a couple of other screenplays – one that involved a Psychic, but we never finished it. Though I think I read the rest of that story in The Monthly a while ago… They kept stealing your money as credit at Duane Reade!
LK: Yes - during that time I also got obsessed with psychics! I started seeing them in New York and then they got into everything that I wrote!
SOA: Maybe because they, if anyone, can predict the end of the world…!?
LK: Yes! I spent A LOT of money on them. Yeah and I started thinking, what's the relationship between psychics and those stock market guys. They're all trying to predict the future.
SOA: But no one wants to admit the end of the world is nigh - whether that is a financial 'world' or a spiritual one. The psychics seem to kind of creep around the nasty stuff..
LK: I asked a psychic in New York recently if she thought the Apocalypse was coming. She said yes, definitely. I asked her when, and she said, 'I don't know. I'm not God.'
LK: So that was the starting point in a way, that feeling of apocalypse and a lack of hope for the future... And also the end of an era.
SOA: So, in a way you always start at the end!
LK: Yes, that's true actually. This film was starting at the end!
Of course there will be another kind of beginning. We just don't know what it is yet.
SOA: Yes, the fin de siècle concept is always interesting - out with the old world and in with a new one. But the end is usually more interesting than the beginning...
LK: Yeah, the end of something is definitely more interesting, because there can be nostalgia.
SOA: Did I tell you Ashleigh [Cummings] and I went to get our palms read while she was preparing for the prostitute role?
LK: Oh my gosh, you didn't!
LK: Oh wow - and what did they say? Where did you go?
SOA: I'm not sure what Ash was told, but she was a) really into the idea of it but b) quite moved by the words. For me, I was told that I will be in but one accident before I die...
LK: Wow! Was the psychic Australian?
SOA: My toe will be severely injured in a taxi accident and I’ll receive $32,000 in compensation!
LK: Wow that's specific!
SOA: She was Russian, and refused to take any money from me...
LK: She refused to take any money!
SOA: She ‘just wanted to help’ me, and others out.
LK: And she was a professional? Wow - amazing. How old was she?
SOA: She was in her 70s at least...
She also advised me not to live away from the sight of grass for longer than three weeks at a time...
LK: Actually, that's probably a good idea.
SOA: ...not to live in the desert or on the sea, unless there is a lot of seaweed.
LK: I was assuming she meant the city!
SOA: Ha ha ha ha. No! Just not Dubai!
LK: Do you think the world has changed a lot since we made the film?
SOA: Hmm… Yes.
LK: What do think it is different now?
SOA: I think there is a real… REAL… sense of uncertainty and skepticism… a cautiousness about making or taking the wrong steps.. especially in a financial sense..
LK: Definitely! I think starting a business would be so hard now. Also everything's changed with the internet - people order everything online now.
SOA: Yes, I know I do [order everything online].
After all these Americans (especially) lost their homes and cars and livelihood and the UK is only just coming out of a seriously dark place.
LK: Yeah - is America better now?
SOA: I don’t think the US is much better, but what do I know about these things?¿
I was there immediately after the fall and everywhere on lampposts were signs advertising ‘CASH FOR HOUSES!!!’
SOA: It was pretty horrendous.
LK: I'll ask my brother. He was pretty convinced the GFC would eventually bring about World War Three.
It's interesting with the psychics because I think they're still doing pretty good business because people want answers
SOA: True. We all want answers.
SOA: Getting back to Greg (hahaha)
LK: Yes - back to Greg!
SOA: He wants answers. His working life was over before it began. And I felt he wanted only to be part of the workplace – that 'working' would somehow make him complete. And it was taken away from him, before he began. So he needed a mentor to show him the way of the world. In this case the workings of the financial world.
I wrote this before I started the film: Bernard teaches Greg metaphorically everything about the industry in a day:- Drinking, Gambling, Hookers… but ultimately you put your faith in the future, in the hands of a mystical vision. A desire to see into the future through the help of a psychic.
Bernard is entrenched in a world of lies, delusion and self-deception.
LK: Yes - and their 'career' together begins there.
SOA: If drinking, gambling, whoring is a metaphor for capitalism then here we are.
LK: Yes, they basically have the whole thing in one day.
SOA: Yes, exactly. And I always did love the visual idea of starting with an empty box… and finishing with a full one… All of Bernard's 'knowledge' and his ideas - wrong or right - are passed onto Greg so he may begin the new generation...
LK: Yes - I really like that too. Yeah, now he's learnt what he needed to learn. He's ready.
SOA: Greg was such a nice boy. Keegan [Joyce] is lovely too. You can't help but have a smile on your face when you talk to him. Even over the phone…
LK: Tell me what were your stylistic and visual ideas for the film?
SOA: Hmm… there were a lot of ideas.. and I'm not sure if I executed them well… but the overarching idea was to show the Master/Apprentice dynamic in a bit of a new light… because we don't want the apprentice to become the master in this case. We fear that he will go to the dark side and as an audience we want Greg to remain pure and untouched..
LK: I reckon you will have executed them well! I was just asking so that it could be in our notes.
SOA: (Thanks!). Visually there was some play with colours – the bar scene was meant to be more yellow, the casino red, the brothel blue.
Blue for a coldness – in the lack of any ‘heat’ between Greg and the Hooker/Psychic, and also his drunkenness wearing off, the hangover beginning. Red for Bloodlust/Moneylust, the point of corruption where Greg goes under.
LK: Yeah - that sounds great!
SOA: Yellow for Cowardice where Greg is fearful of becoming Bernard, he is still wary of going over the edge.
LK: Yeah - beautiful!
What else do you think we need to cover?
SOA: Hmm... I'd like to hear your thoughts on Bernard (who was originally Arthur until we changed the name for fear your brother’s workmate would think you had based the character on him) – both are names that mean 'Bear'. The Apocalypse Bear is a character who regularly appears in your plays, but we don't see a bear in this film. But the name/s would suggest that you think Bernard is the sign or harbinger of the apocalypse?
LK: Yeah, I guess that was the remainder of the character of the Apocalypse Bear still being in it. Like Bernard was the sort of character that the Apocalypse Bear would have been if he'd been in it. The Apocalypse Bear is always this sort of casual, understated sign of Apocalypse. I guess Bernard is that too.
SOA: Yes, he seems like the kind of character who wants to look out for someone, be kind, have an apprentice beneath him… The Apocalypse Bear was like that in the play we worked on – he was kind of nice, doing the babysitting and all that… then he 'accidentally' kills the child he wants to care for… and I believe he did do it accidentally… like these bankers didn't want to bring down the world.. they just went 'OOPS!'… 'sorry about that!'. That's the Apocalypse Bear, and Bernard...
LK: Yeah- most apocalypse doesn't come out of people or bears deliberately causing it- usually people are doing what they think will work- and then it doesn't.
SOA: It's the foolishness that makes it so interesting. Like car-crash interesting. It's horrible to watch but utterly compelling at the same time.
LK: Yeah. And we're in a totally new time now. For a while everything seemed so done before. But now it feels utterly new again.
What else do you think we should cover? Are there any questions we should ask each other?
SOA: Just one for me:
Can you please describe the image that (I think your brother sent, or described to you) was the inspiration for the film.
LK: Oh yes! My brother saw this image- I think it was of the Lehman Brothers the day it collapsed- and there were all these men holding boxes of their things, like from their desks etc. And there was this one young guy, with an empty box. It was his first day of work.
SOA: That's pretty sad.
LK: Yeah, that's true. I think my brother heard later that it was definitely that guy's first day. Do you think you have enough stuff? You can email me or text with any questions or stuff that you think of later as well.
SOA: Thanks Lally. I think that's plenty!
Rest your voice, and enjoy your Monday of Monasticism..
Is that a word, for being monkish?
LK: I think it's a word!
I like it anyway!
SOA: If it wasn't, I just coined it.
LK: Have a great day!
SOA: Oh, and one more thing…
LK: Lovely to talk!
SOA: Did you know that Arthur Beare was Garry McDonald’s name in Mother & Son!!
I can't remember how I came across that, but I've been meaning to ask if you knew for months now.
LK: Oh my gosh! I didn't know that! I wonder if they knew it meant bear bear!
SOA: Garry seems like a clever guy. I think he probably thought of it as bear-squared!
LK: Bear Squared is great!
SOA: He he. Thank you so much, it was lovely to chat.
LK: Thanks Scott! Talk soon!