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No Connection
We Need to Talk

 

About the Production
 


No Connection is what is called a “found” piece. Director Jesse Levy literally found it while reading through an English to Japanese phrasebook. As he read the English portion straight down the page, it read to him like a play by Samuel Beckett or Harold Pinter. He immediately saw its potential as a short film about the lack of substantive dialogue on the world stage today. The need for dialogue is crucial right now as governments (or in some cases radical groups) seem more inclined to bomb first and ask questions later – if they ask any questions at all. In the film, the Japanese man (Ron Banks) stands in for the rest of the world as he grapples with the American (Dean Scofield) to try to come to some understanding through dialogue. The lack of any meaningful communication between people, cultures, or nations leads to death – either a figurative one or the literal death of thousands of innocent people.

As for the adaptation, Levy had to take the simple phrases which were designed for one American traveler in Japan and divide them between two speakers. This turned some of the innocuous phrases like “Take me to Ginza,” and “How much will it cost?” into threats and accusations. In splitting the phrases up between the American and a Japanese man, Levy discovered a kind of broken dialogue, one filled with non sequiturs. This made the “script” difficult for the actors to memorize but they managed to find a way. They did a great job with tough material.

Because the scenario of this piece seemed like a play, Director Levy decided to use some split screens and even a triple screen to convey some of the film’s meaning and to show some action (with the telephone) that the audience might otherwise have missed.

The film was shot in the living room of the Cinematographer William Franco and the Script Supervisor Miki Seifert just days before they were headed off to New Zealand. Willie received a one to two year Fulbright Scholarship to study the relation of Maori art to Hispanic art there. So, the production had to get it right the first time. The film was shot in one twenty-four hour period in January of 2007. Both Miki and Willie were under the weather at the time too so it was quite a trial for them. They came through beautifully as well.

The art piece hanging in the center of the set’s back wall was made by Miki Seifert. The other art was an amalgam of art in the possession of Levy, Co-Producer Michael Immel, and Miki and Willie. The piece of Chinese calligraphy in the center of the rear wall says, “Create Art.” The picture of the Japanese-looking woman on the wall behind Dean in some shots is in fact Willie’s mother who is of Mexican descent. The music was created by Levy and Composer Philip Lincoln Smith. Smith created all the pieces that underscore the film. Levy played the beginning and ending music on a Freetones which is a small xylophone-type instrument. Smith then processed the opening piece through his computer to make part of the music sound like an Indian tabla drum. Talk about an international production!
 


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