Ido Fluk at Festival international de films de Fribourg2012
Interview with IDO FLUK director of NEVER TOO LATE
by Roberto Rippa
Ido Fluk is an Israeli-born writer director based in New York.
His debut feature film, NEVER TOO LATE, was produced by crowd-sourced funding and shot with a budget of $25,000. It won the Grand Prize (Regard D’or) at the Fribourg Film Festival, the Cinemarket Award at Haifa Int’l Film Festival, and was an official selection of the Edinburgh Film Festival among others. Variety wrote that the film “marks helmer-writer Ido Fluk as a talent to watch.”
Prior to NEVER TOO LATE, Fluk’s shorts have won such awards as the Jerusalem Film Festival Director’s award, the Warner Bros. Pictures Film Production Award, and Best Drama award at the Ivy Film Fest, RI. Film critic Jean Michel Frodon (Cahiers du Cinema, Le Monde) wrote that Fluk’s short, COOKING FOR RICHARD, was ”astoundingly well filmed.”
Fluk holds a BFA in Film & TV Production from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Roberto Rippa: Let’s begin with a very personal question: In your film, Hertzel goes back to Israel after a 8 years long trip to South America to try to reconcile with his past and eventually his own life. You too went back to Israel from New York for your film. Is there any parallelism between this two stories?
Ido Fluk: Yes there is. I was away from Israel for quite a few years, living in New York. When I came back, there was a lot of coming to terms with my past, and with the way I saw Israel now, after being away. There’s a new perspective to be gained when one comes back to his homeland after being away for some time. In that sense my personal journey very much parallels the one taken by my main character.
RR: By telling Hertzel’s personal story, you seem to tell also something about Israel’s new generation. Is it true? I’m asking this because in the film it appears that the dialogue between Hertzel and elder people of his family seem always a little difficult. This happens everywhere, but Hertzel appears to suffer from this a lot more. Is it because there’s a greater gap there?
IF: Yes. I think Israel is in an interesting place right now, a shift between an old generation that still believes in the big ideals upon which the country was founded, of the folk songs and the kind of army bravardo Israeli culture was based on, and a younger generation who sees things in a less idealised light, beneath the glow of the McDonald’s arches, and the big screen plasma sets. A more personal way of thinking about things. This creates a schism. A climate in which for the older generation, even moving away from Israel is considered a serious political act.
RR: After watching Never too Late, I had the chance to watch your short Cooking for Richard on your website. They both tell about mourning, or as mourning lead you to a new and different life. Is this a subject you intend to treat again in the future?
IF: More than mourning, I think my interest lies in loss. When something is taken out of your life, you’re left with a gap. In many cases, these gaps that keep opening and closing in our lives and the way we choose to fill them (or leave them empty) make us who we are. My next film doesn’t deal with mourning, but it examines a different sort of gap opened in a man’s life.
RR: Never too Late was entirely written and directed by you but you also produced it so you could take the film entirely in control. Were you afraid of any possible interferences?
IF: Because we (myself and the film’s producer, Gal Greenspan) made it in such an independent, small, and spontaneous way, there was no reason to relinquish control. I didn’t want to wait for the local film fund to approve the project (it usually takes years) and we decided to just go out and shoot it.
RR: I read that your film was financed by people who got to know about the project through internet or the news that talked about your film. Was it impossible to find funds through Israeli Film Funds or government or was this a precise choice from the beginning?
IF: We received some financing assistance from local film funds for post production, but before that, we knew it was going to be an uphill battle, and we knew even if we succeed, it will take years to get financing for this kind of project. I refused to wait. I hate waiting. In that sense, I really chose the wrong profession. Making films seems to be comprised of 20% making them, and 80% waiting around for someone to finance them.
RR: What was the initial idea for Never too Late, where does the inspiration for the story come from?
IF: After coming back to Israel, and taking a few trips looking at it through a stranger’s perspective, I was really stunned to discover how incredible the typography of the landscape was. It’s such a tiny strip of land, and yet it includes such variety and such intense landscapes. At the same time, I was always enamored with the road movie as a genre. I thought- someone should shoot a road movie in here. Crack through the usual camel-in-desert or shooting-in-kasba images that people around the world have of this country when they think of it. It was a challenge because the road movie tradition obviously developed in vast places. Places that could accomodate big epic journeys. Israel takes about 8 hours to drive through. I like challenges.
RR: Tell me something about the music in the film: you mix some pop songs from the past, that Hertzel finds in his father’s car, with new compositions by Asher Goldshmidt and this helps to create a peculiar atmosphere throughout the film. How did you work on the music?
IF: I wanted to create just that mix of old Israeli folk songs, many of it composed and recorded by ‘army bands’ the kind of old tapes your family would listen to in trips. Juxtapose that with a very intimate score that borrowed elements from those tapes, and used it to create a soundtrack. So work on both parts of the soundtrack was simultaneous.
RR: In your film the acting is always very good. How did you work with the actors?
IF: I love actors and I love giving them room to work. Setting up the conditions to get them into the scene, then setting them loose. I was lucky to cast such a great group of actors, all (excpet for Nony) veterans and well-known faces from the stage and screen in Israel.
RR: You chose Nony Geffen for the main role. He plays a very complicate character in a very effective and sensitive way and this was his first role in a full feature film after a few shorts. How did you two work together?
IF: Nony is a genius. We auditioned so many actors for this role, and once I saw him, I knew this was it. He’s such a big vessel of emotional intelligence and channels so much into the lens. We worked on his character together. We took drives, we went on walks, we played video games, and we carried that kind of friendship into the film, along with our cinematographer. There was a lot of friendship involved in making this. I wish all my films will feel this way.
RR: Immediately after that, Nony Geffen directed his first film Not in Tel Aviv, that I deeply loved. I don’t know if you had the chance to watch his film yet but, according to me, your two films share the choice of showing Israel in a very different way – an intimate way, not showing in an explicit way political issues of conflicts – from other films that we are used to see. I find this very effective because it doesn’t hide anything but allows us to see your country from a different perspective. Do you agree?
IF: I agree. I think it reflects a perspective of a new generation. And I think it’s another step in the growing pains of a very young, very troubled, country. Kind of like the teenage years.
RR: How did you choose the crew to work with?
IF: It was about luring the people I wanted involved in. I watched a few things Itai Merom, the cinematographer, shot, and I knew I wanted him to shoot it. I really had to draw him in and convince him this was the right project. The same went for all the principal members of the group: it took months to convince Gal to produce this film without a proper budget. It took many meetings and conversations about the films we love to get Asaf Lapid (editor) involved. I felt like a coach of a small-town team, convincing star players to join.
RR: The photography by Itai Marom is nothing less than beautiful. How did you choose him and how did you work with him?
IF: We worked closely together. It was like a triangle- me, Nony and Itai. Sometimes we even went off to shoot by ourselves, just the three of us in the old Volvo. Shooting a film. Itai had been shooting a lot of stills of landscapes in Israel and was as fascinated as I was with it. It was the right fit.
RR: What was the reception for your film in Israel?
IF: It was surprisingly well-received. I drove around the country to different theaters to do Q&As and was always surprised at how people connected with it, understood it. Even the older folks.
RR: Never too Late won the Regard d’or at the Fribourg International Film festival and the Cinemarket Award at Haifa International Film Festival. Did this help the film to get distributed?
IF: Yes. We’ve also done Edinburgh, Hamburg, Sao Paolo, and a few other places. We had a succesful extended run in Israel, but for the moment there’s no distribution in place for the rest of the world. It’s a challenge to distribute a film like this one, especially without a big production company or sales agency standing behind us.
RR: Are you currently working on a new project? Can you tell me something about it?
IF: I am in pre-production for my next film, THE TICKET, an American film produced by Wendy Japhet and Killer Films in New York. That’s all I can say for now.
December 28, 2012
2012 The Ticket, Feature film (Pre-Production)
2011 Never Too Late, Feature film
2011 The Amazing Charleroux, short
2006 Cooking for Richard, short
1999 Welcome to Tel Aviv, short