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In 2006, the world was introduced to Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova by way of a delightful little film called 'Once.' In the film, the two musicians fell in love. In real life, the two musicians also fell in love, but -- like their onscreen characters -- it wasn't meant to be. The difference is that Hansard and Irglova had a tumultuous breakup, which was caught on film by Chris Dapkins, Nick August-Perna and Carlo Mirabella-Davis for their new documentary 'The Swell Season.' Moviefone spoke to Dapkins about the strained relationship between Hansard and Irglova -- as well as the slightly dysfunctional relationship that those two have with fame. Dapkins also explains why you may not like 'The Swell Season' if you really enjoyed 'Once.'
I read that Glen Hansard requested that you three film their tour?
What was his reasoning for that?
From what I gather, and I wouldn't want to speak for him, I understand that all of these major changes were taking place and they were about to head out on this massive international tour -- fueled by the success of the music in 'Once.' It was the beginning of a new chapter for him and Marketa and The Swell Season. And he felt like it should be documented. He had an intuition that there might be something that would happen. But I do also imagine that he was predicting a more jubilant romp around the country.
I know she's young, but Marketa doesn't come off that great in this film. I see her point, but not everyone wants to hear about how sad you are because people like you.
You know, it's funny... people have varied reactions. Some people identify strongly with Glen and others with Marketa. In fact, a lot of the female audience members that I speak with, they find her positions to be one they can relate to. That she takes a stand and tries to figure out her relationship with this fanbase out in the open with the rest of the band members. I think some people actually find that sympathetic.
It is compelling. But she is upset because people like her.
I think it was more that she wanted to feel like there was an authentic exchange taking place between herself and the people she met. And that at times she felt like she wasn't quite there. You know, she was just kind of riding along the surface and it felt sort of pointless to her. And she was young at the time and I know, since then, she's changed her perspective in relation to autographs and photographs and learned to embrace it for her latest album.
Was she always on board with you filming a documentary?
I think she was questioning it at first, yeah. And she was interested in supporting Glen's project and it was initially Glen's project. She wanted to support it but she definitely had questions and that was part of our process – working through what the point of the film is and where the film was going. And she was uncomfortable, but after a while we established a trusting relationship with her and with both of them.
To be fair, Glen has his moments too. During a conversation with his mother he complains about the hassles of success as well. This could be a question about any documentary, but why do people say the things they do when there is clearly a camera in the room? He has to know that people are going to roll their eyes at a couple of the things he's saying.
Again, I think he's working out his relationships with this bizarre double life. He's working it out in the open with the people he loves, like his mother. Yeah, he exposes himself -- for sure -- to this confused state. It is at times awkward and I think that Glen, as he says, it's a difficult experience watching this film for him.
Was there anything that you saw that was too personal that you thought, maybe we shouldn't include that?
Um.. no, actually. It wasn't like we were chasing them around every corner or chasing them into the bedroom.
Though, I have now seen both of them nude.
[Laughs] Exactly. That was something where it was just the three of us: myself with the camera and the two of them on the beach. And Glen had this moment of inspiration to run into the water and that's how it happened.
Did they ever change their minds about using that scene?
Well, Glen was very open, but we didn't include the shot of them running back from the water.
You might have gotten yourself an entirely different rating with that shot.
Those are for the midnight screenings.
It seemed that at the film festivals the reviewers were really good for this film, but the recent round on its theatrical release have been lukewarm. Why do you think that is?
Well, the L.A. Times just came out with a very strong favorable review...
Oh, I know. But, overall, it's very mixed.
I think that for people who have seen 'Once,' the criticisms that I've seen, feel responsible for representing those who haven't seen 'Once' and say that we haven't gone into the back-story of that other film. But for people who have not seen 'Once' have not mentioned any of that -- they find it to be a satisfying experience. It's finding its role out in the world, but I haven't really noticed any sharp dip. There's some people who appreciate the rawness and the awkward meta experience in the film and there are others who are looking for a more tidy, narrative experience.
Do you feel you're fighting against the ghost of 'Once'?
One writer of our film is very much intertwined with 'Once.' As artists, when they sing in 'The Swell Season,' the lyrics are predicting events that eventually take place. And 'Once' has that quality as well. So 'The Swell Season' is very much intertwined with the experience of watching a documentary sequel to a fiction film. But the people I've spoken with who haven't seen 'Once' don't feel like they need to. But for diehard fans of that particular language, it can be startling -- because our language is the polar opposite.
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