Jean Seberg was an artist and like most artists, sensitive and fragile, so the world, which she discovered to be brutal and unfair, unnerved her.
Joseph Lally is an avant garde filmmaker, whose mission is to create within the online, digital arena a new wave of explorative films, citing Jean-Luc Godard's legacy of 60s innovation... [Read More]
Alex Fury: When did the idea of creating this film originate?
Joseph Lally: Daphne and I were at Sands Point, in this old mansion, and we both had an eerie feeling a murder had been committed in one of its rooms. The next day it was reaffirmed that indeed a murder had taken place. We thought: how great to make an art film about the place and what had happened. Then we spoke of our mutual admiration for actress Jean Seberg, and the following weeks I began to dream of her. In these dreams, she confirmed that her death been murder and not a suicide, thus was the seed and conception of The Murder of Jean Seberg. Jean, Daphne, myself and the lead actor Michael Brager are all Scorpios, so we have a tremendous understanding of death and the mystery of after life.
Alex Fury: Did you always want to profile Jean Seberg?
Joseph Lally: I've been intrigued by her ever since I saw her in a movie called Lilith. She plays a misunderstood visionary, as she did in her first film Saint Joan.
Alex Fury: Can you tell me what you find fascinating about Seberg?
Joseph Lally: There is a purity, an innocence combined with knowingness, She has a quality in her voice and manner that reminds me of the heroines of the Fitzgerald books The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night. She seems like a girl you would want to befriend, and such loveliness and grace on screen.
Alex Fury: Why did you make the distinction between 'death' and 'murder' - is it something you feel about Seberg's death, or is it specific to the intentions of the film? Is it factual or expressive?
Joseph Lally: I believe one way or the other she was murdered, even if suicide, well then she was driven to it by certain governmental agencies. All you have to do is google her files online and read how they had set to destroy her reputation. Jean Seberg was an artist and like most artists, sensitive and fragile, so the world, which she discovered to be brutal and unfair, unnerved her.
Alex Fury: How did you come to collaborate with Daphne Guinness on the project?
Joseph Lally: I told her my idea and I ask if she would produce and star, and she said yes without any hesitation. She understood that we did not want to exploit Jean and her story, nor did we want to do a traditional biopic, nor imitate her. We wanted to create an art film for the Internet, to start a new wave in cinema as her film Breathless with Godard did.
Alex Fury: What did you find inspiring about working with Daphne?
Joseph Lally: She seems never to be prepared when we all arrive on set, her mind in many places at one time, but soon as the camera rolls, she becomes Jean. Every scene was in one take. She is astounding, like those great silent film stars, and yet humble. She is the loveliest person and most people have not a clue to the real Daphne. In some ways this film is also a record of the secret side of Daphne.
Alex Fury: What was the intention of the film?
Joseph Lally: To get people to think about Jean Seberg, so they seek out her films, that they google and research her life, to make her name relevant.
Alex Fury: Given the episodic impression conveyed by the title-cards within the film, was the film conceived as a single full-length feature, or as a series of parts?
Joseph Lally: The title cards and episodes recall certain films by an idol of mine Jean-Luc Godard. He often frames his films in parts and titles them. Since our film is not linear the titles and episodes help frame the story.
Alex Fury: The use of text intercut throughout the film is very expressive. Was the film conceived with these textual interludes in mind, or is that something that developed later?
Joseph Lally: Editing is where I do the most work. I edit alone and often to the point of exhaustion and in that state of exhaustion I make mistakes. It is those mistakes that I keep in. I find something magical happens when I go against my logic. The textual interludes is my mind speaking as I am about to drop to sleep. They were not planned.
Alex Fury: I'm interested in how you see the film sitting alongside fashion film. Do you see this as a kind of fashion film, or as sitting in more art-focussed filmmaking? Or indeed, do you relate more readily to narrative cinema?
Joseph Lally: I have worked both in the fashion world and film world and there is a fine line that separates them. They both seek to transport people with the imagination. And I think that is the magic of both mediums.
Alex Fury: If the message of The Murder of Jean Seberg had to be boiled down to a single impression for the viewer to take away, what would you wish that to be?
Joseph Lally: That we must not give in to the collective mind that forms a robotic life many of us are now living. In point of fact,we must become rebels through the use of beauty and the imagination. Those are our weapons.