ByJessica Harmon, writer at
The ultimate fangirl - spends most nights watching back-to-back old Buffy episosdes and complaining about being tired for work the next day.
Jessica Harmon

An orgy of thrills and artistic expression, Tabloid Vivant tells of a couple whose eventful relationship awakens something disturbing in a painting.... God, and that rundown doesn't even do half this unique film justice, I tell you.

The film, which has been doing the festival rounds (snaring great reviews along the way) hails from the ostensibly uber-imaginative mind of filmmaker Kyle Broom.

What a unique movie. How did you come up with the premise?

I’m always so pleased when someone sees the film as unique.

Before I started making movies, I did my PhD in philosophy. The whole idea for Max’s painting system was actually something I came up with years ago while writing a paper on the way different technologies play a role in how art is made and how it can mean stuff. When I wanted to expand that idea for the movie, I started mixing in other sources, that had resonated with me for a long time, like the Black Dahlia murder and Edgar Allen Poe’s story “The Oval Portrait”.

When I’m writing a script, I tend to have a group of loosely connected events and ideas in mind, so writing becomes a process of finding a way to weave those influences together into a narrative. I often like to draw on historical events, like the Black Dahlia or the photo shoot we recreated in the film with Lou Salome and Friedrich Nietzsche.

Did you storyboard this all our before shooting? Lots of conceptual sketches?

We didn’t use storyboards, but we did create an intricate shot list and constructed the layout and design of each scenes beforehand. I definitely plan to expand my use of previsualizations on my next project.

How did you pitch the film to your investors and/or cast?

We just said, “It’s about paintings that come to life and kill people. Sort of.” After that, we were inundated with enthusiastic adventurers wanting to get onboard.

Kyle Broom and actress Tamzin Brown
Kyle Broom and actress Tamzin Brown

I have to ask, were Tim Burton and/or David Lynch an inspiration? The tone, palette and structure seem very similar to their past work. It’s almost like an art piece disguised as celluloid – which is so refreshing!

David Lynch is a definite influence on the film. Tim Burton - not that I’m aware of. Inspirations can be weird, though; and a lot of times you’re unaware of them until later. Often, whenever I look at the films I admire most, I see little things that I’ve stolen from them without realizing it at the time. Part of this comes from the idea -- what Tabloid Vivant is essentially about -- that works of art really can come to life by burrowing into the brains of people and influencing them from then on. Little bits of Barry Lyndon will show up in my movies not because I was trying to put them there, but because Stanley Kubrick burrowed into my brain started to control the way I look at and think about films generally.

Your statement that ‘it’s almost like an art piece disguised as celluloid’ really makes me so happy...and then sort of sad. It’s kind of funny that anyone would need to disguise the fact that a movie is a work of art -- but I take your point, and I think it accurately represents the state of cinema today. The kinds of films that I admire and that I try to make are, unabashedly, works of art. And I think that’s true for most of the films that get remembered and loved and looked at again and again as time goes on. And I’m not just talking about avant garde stuff. I’m not talking about Un Chien Andalou; I’m talking about E.T. E.T. may have been a corporate enterprise designed to litter the earth with unplayable games and little plastic aliens, but, on its merit as a film alone, it’s a fucking first rate work of art. I think it’s a relatively new phenomenon that films aren’t primarily looked at as works of art--I’m not saying anything new here, basically the same thing that’s been said over and over about the state of mainstream film journalism in the United States, that it treats general readership like they should care primarily (exclusively?) about the financials of a project rather than the ideas, storytelling and world it offers. It’s as though all the drama and tension has been relegated to the stories of a studio’s financial wins and losses and excluded from the content of their movies.

I imagine you’ve had wide-ranging responses on the movie - - how’s the general reception been to it?

The response so far has been very enthusiastic. We sold out our screening at the Cinema at the Edge Film Festival and ended up taking home the Audience Award for Best Feature. We were also greeted with overwhelming enthusiasm from distributors at AFM, though that enthusiasm often included a caveat describing genuine perplexity about how to market the film.

What are your plans for it?

We are still weighing our distribution options at this point. As you said, it’s a unique film, and most distributors are looking for projects they know how to easily put into a category of other films that are exactly the same. That’s definitely not what my producer Alexandra Spector and I are interested in; we are trying to do new and original work. We know that viewers and audiences respond with enthusiastic interest to the movie, we just need to find the right distributor, with the guts to try something different. So much of the industry that is geared toward repeating past formulae, but there are still a lot of creative people out there who are interested in bringing something new to light. We are looking for those people.


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