By Marc Glassman
August 19, 2011
You Are Here
Daniel Cockburn, director and writer
With: Tracy Wright and Nadia Litz
Daniel Cockburn conceptual mystery tale You Are Here announces a major talent–though admittedly, an intellectual one. I’ve known Daniel for years and like him a lot. So I can’t review the film–but I can give a bit of a background through what follows.
Using mainly Arts Council funding, Cockburn has made a film that follows in the wake of his austere, brilliant award-winning videos.
He learned a lot about acting from working with the late, great Tracy Wright (Trigger, Highway 61).
“I had a lot of reservations and fears looking with a large cast and a technically ambitious script to film. The first couple of days I shot with Tracy Wright on her scenes as the Archvist. It was a great beginning and gave me a sense of optimism about the next 13 days of shooting. She was working with cryptic monologues–the kind I put into my video work–and she was bringing all these unexpected, weirdly human readings to the text. In casting the part of the Archivist, we knew we needed someone who was a unique personality and could be the proxy for the audience, giving us someone for her to identify with in this slightly inhumane–seeming movie.
“In a short, if it’s rigorously structured, you can be almost assured that it would work. But structure is no guarantee that a full-length movie will work. It’s just too complex. My script was structured so that everything had multiple meanings–and was supposed to be perfectly placed for the film. But we edited for a year and a lot changed. Scenes were cut out and swapped things around.”
Cockburn’s main influence isn’t a filmmaker. It’s the great Argentine poet, essayist and short story writer Jorge Luis Borges. “The movie I’ve made is very Borgesian–the archivist, the people in their rooms. Its physicality is quite retro. But I feel that what we did is very much involved with the Web and new technologies. It’s quite contemporary.”