by Rosalie Kicks!, Old Sport
After watching the trailer to Anna Biller’s feature film, The Love Witch, I couldn’t help but see it as a work of art. The vibrant colors, intriguing production design and scenic landscapes are reminiscent of a painting. It reminded me of those films from the technicolor days that I am so often drawn to. The kind of film that I find myself getting lost in and wishing there was some way that I could live in that world.
Despite only seeing the two and half minute trailer to Anna’s The Love Witch I was immediately enamored. A story that focuses on a modern day witch that uses potions and spells in order to have men fall in love with her…yep, I was sold. As a fan of classic films, I find many of the movies present day Hollywood churns out to lack substance. Often times they are aren’t even that interesting to look at…just visually-devoid piles. These days it is pretty rare that I find myself even looking forward to a movie coming out on the silver screen. Time and time again, I find myself watching dead people. “I love classic movies. I love the lighting, the colors, and the design, the feeling of them,” explains Anna Biller. “I also wanted to create a movie like Hitchcock’s Marnie - about a woman’s mental illness combined with that woman’s glamour and mystery - and that type of story lends itself to a technicolor treatment.”
A lady after my own heart. The Love Witch seems to be our answer to the typical Hollywood nonsense by bringing the classic technicolor films of the 60's ALIVE once again. This is proven by the way Anna made use of traditional filmmaking techniques. “We shot with a 35mm camera, recorded sound with a Nagra which uses ¼” tape, cut an original negative, and printed on film,” explains Anna. “I used to shoot on video, but prefer film. All techniques have their unique challenges. Digital has just as many challenges; they’re just different challenges.”
However in filmmaking, sometimes your biggest challenges turn into happy accidents - those events that turn out differently than what you planned for, but in the end are better than expected. “The happy accidents are always the actors. They come in with all their magic and create the film in front of your eyes,” says Anna. “They take what’s on paper and make it a reality. The other happy accident was David Mullen, the DP. I knew he was good, but still, what he did on the set was revelatory. He is a real expert in period lighting styles, and is a lot of the reason the film looks so authentically retro,” explains Anna.
It’s hard not to notice all the time and effort that went into The Love Witch. Every aspect of the film seems to have been given much thought and consideration, from the locations (shot in Los Angeles and Northern California) down to the props and costumes. “I am a self-taught seamstress - although I did grow up watching my mother sew (she is a dress designer) - sewing comes natural to me,” explains Anna. By making use of vintage sewing patterns, Anna created much of her main character Elaine’s (played by Samantha Robinson) wardrobe.
Since learning about the film I have been keeping a close eye on the website (lifeofastar.com/lovewitch.html) to learn of when it will be playing at a location near me. Fortunately, earlier this year the film was picked up by Oscilloscope and will be distributed to many theaters across the United States (check here for screenings near you: thelovewitch.oscilloscope.net/) and will also be making an appearance at many film festivals.
After having the opportunity to speak with Anna about her film, I can’t be more excited about seeing it. Her film may seem like it is style over substance, but even when watching the trailer one can tell the director is trying to send a message. “I want to try to describe to people what it feels like to be a woman - that it's a combination of being worshipped, admired, feared, ostracized, and shunned, for nothing that you had done, or at least nothing you are doing on purpose. The figure of the femme fatale witch is a perfect figure to outline these types of concerns.”
Some of Anna’s Favorite Things:
Where is your favorite theater to see a film?
Film Forum in New York
Who is your favorite witch?
Kim Novak in Bell, Book, and Candle
Who is your favorite female filmmaker?
Dorothy Arzner, she made one of the best films ever made – Dance, Girl, Dance (1940). She had a great eye for composition, she was great at directing actors, and her stories were more than just stories-they were manifestos.