An Interview with Susan Mogul (Director)
Q: Watching this film, I was overwhelmed by your energy. Where does it come from?
SM: I began making artwork during the feminist movement in the 70s, and this was a time in the United States of a big, significant transition for women. Women were traditionally invisible, inside the home. And although things have changed a lot, if you’re not married and don’t have children you don’t exist in a certain way. I think that a lot of my drive has been “yes, I’m here, I count. This is who I am,” and I want to express that using humor. And it’s not just me, there are other women and other people who are like me too.
Q: Why did you take that format of sitting in the passenger seat, pointing the camera at the driver?
SM: I like the idea of the car because the men have to concentrate and are less self-conscious. And it’s part of my life in Los Angeles. And learning to drive for me was very important. Also the car is an interesting space because it’s a very private, intimate space. Yet it’s going through a public space, so you have a private interaction with the public city space around you which is interesting to me. And the car was also where I had the car accident, so the car has a lot of significance in my autobiography. So it’s a site of tragedy and also the site of liberation for me.
Q: During the film there’s often an erotic gaze from the men back at you the director, which is directed out into the audience. When you were filming, did you ever have any romantic intention, or do you just turn that off when you’re filming?
SM: When I go to meet the person to film them, I’m not going with a romantic feeling, but I think that if you have some kind of interplay or connection or tension, then you’re gonna have a more interesting film. Because then there’s life coming out of the person. If there’s any kind of energy between two people just in everyday life then you’ll have a more lively conversation. So I don’t think we want to turn anything off.
And although there could be this male gaze, I’m the female and I’m gazing back, I have the camera. And that’s actually more powerful than the male gaze.
Q: In the 5 years before your father passed away, you were able to achieve the kind of relationship with him that you’d wanted, he accepted you. You’re not married and you don’t have children, but it’s as if you’ve been granted the relationship that you’ve always wanted with your father as a reward for being true to yourself.
SM: When I started out making the film I had no idea that my father would become such an important part of the film, and I didn’t know my father was going to die. I was lucky that I could film him before he died.
What filmmaking or artmaking allows me to do is to take all these different fragments and pieces of my life and start to make sense of things. And making the film also allowed me to come to terms with my father. We’re all complex human beings, and I don’t believe one thing leads to something else, I believe things are circuitous and a lot of times in our life we’re not even aware of something right in front of our face that everyone else can see.
(Compiled by Tanaka Kayako)
Interviewers: Tanaka Kayako, Raphaelle Fuseau / Interpreter: Goto Taro / Translator: Oliver Dew
Photography: Ichiyanagi Sayuri / Video: Ito Ayumi / 2009-10-10