Alix Lambert & Sam Chou
Synopsis: A graphic-novel-style documentary about the havoc crime creates told by those living through it.
This film got its start with a book. What inspired you to write a book about crime?
(Alix) I had done a number of projects that dealt with crime and involved interviewing people. I had directed a feature length documentary on Russian prisons (The Mark of Cain) and I was writing for David Milch's Deadwood. I had a number of crime-related interviews that had never been seen because they didn't fit into other projects. I had met Damon Murray and Stephen Sorrel of Fuel Publishing through our mutual interest in Russian criminal tattoos. I love their books and we wanted to work together, so we started talking about what we might want to do together - and the resulting book is: CRIME.
Where did you find the characters from? How did you come across them?
(Alix) I found them in a very non-scientific way. The collection of interviews basically represents my personal wanderings through the worlds of crime and art. As I said, I had some interviews from the Russian trip that never made it into the film. After that film aired on Nightline, I was asked to attend the Russian Organized Crime Conference in Sacramento. I met numerous law enforcement people there who I interviewed. I also talked with friends (Sarah Kennon, Sue Sherwood, Joe Loya) and usually one person would recommend another and like dominoes you have a collection. There were a few people like Takeshi Kitano who we decided we wanted even though we had no strong connection to him. But I wrote to him and he agreed, so that was a pleasant surprise.
Each episode has its own style of animation. What inspired the themes for each individual story?
(Sam) Since we were telling such vastly different stories, we wanted each episode to showcase a completely different visual style to complement the stories being told. Each episode has a different tone and mood behind it. Some episodes were hilarious and some were really unsettling. It's almost as if each episode was a different movie genre. By borrowing from comedy, horror, suspense, and action genres, we created the visual style to best represent the story being told.
Why use this style of story-telling to tackle a subject like crime?
(Alix) I use so many different kinds of storytelling techniques to tackle any subject I am interested in, whether it’s a book, film, theatrical piece, etc. While the longer interviews which appear in the books and plays give a fuller portrait of the person speaking, the short animation gives people a different way to get into the material. I think the animation makes the viewer use their imagination more. And for some people who have a hard time watching and/or thinking about crime and violence it gives them a way to be open to content that they might otherwise have trouble with. Also, there is a different kind of challenge to telling a very short story and I enjoy figuring out these kinds of challenges.
What do you want audiences to take away from these films?
(Alix) I hope that we have not done anything sensational. Sam and I talked about this and it was important to me to present crime from numerous perspectives and to understand it in a more layered way than just good vs. evil. I hope that we have been successful in doing that.
(Sam) These are real people with real stories. I hope the audience learns, laughs and squirms watching this series.
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