After moving between LA, NYC and London - Matt Lambert is currently stationed in Berlin. Head of the art collective Bare Bones, a UK group whose work covers a range of artistic disciplines, his films to date include commercials, music videos and short narrative films, as well as wilder experimental films, video art and installations. With a number of high profile clients, Matt has been given platforms to both display his work and his mature understanding of human experience. Referred to as a film-maker, Matt describes to his own process as less traditional. In an interview with Dazed he explains why the central focus of his work is about creating images that depict a story in any form. Using a language of his own in his latest film UMASAN, and destroying any sense of self-conscious verbal dialogue, Matt creates a moving portrait of a moment in life for a group of adolescents. Matt plainly and beautifully displays people emerging into an adult world, but from which they are still removed.
In a way his films are more comparable to poetry than prose, and as such rhythm rather than narrative comes to the forefront of the film. Sound is central to our understanding of the images and replaces any dialogue that would exist. In its place is the ringing and thundering sounds, arranged by Ben Lukas Boysen, which transform Matts images into living metaphors, as heaving bodies breathe together. Shot mostly with close ups, and abstract images of skin and limbs, it is through the characters touch that they - and we - get a sense of their world. Matt captures a sense that the most important and pivotal moments in life that can be borne out of the boredom of being a teenager, on the edge of adulthood, but still relegated to the edges of it. The importance of these moments is left written on the face of an older man at the end of the film and Matt perfectly captures the sense of having no money or access to an adult world that is fast approaching, but with all the time to try and process the beauty and mess of that world around you. Watch clips from his work and read our interview with him below, and watch Paul und Jakob, the first in the TRIBUTE series at the bottom.
How's it going?
Matt Lambert: Busy. Excited!
Can you tell the readers a little about yourself?
Matt Lambert: I grew up in LA and landed in Berlin after years between NYC and London. I'm a filmmaker, but my work in the last few years I simply make images and tell stories in many different forms.
What's your film about?
Matt Lambert: There's not much of a concept to the film, but it's rather a fleeting, fragmented moment in the lives of two boys in Berlin and their desire to escape from it and their reality.
You've spoken about the cinema of implication. Can you explain a bit about that?
Matt Lambert: I see my films as more of visual poetry that traditional filmmaking. Paul and Jakob is looser and grittier than a lot of my work, but I'm definitely trying to send a message with as little as possible by connecting worlds combined with disconnected audio.
You've been commended for your sound design in the past. Is this particularly important to you?
Matt Lambert: I work with several amazing composers sound designers and have for years. On this film though, and a lot of the films I make for Bare Bones, I do my own. In some of my older films like Umasan, Fuck Machines or We Who Are Old Are Young, the story is in the sound. It's not even the subtext, it's the text!
What drew you to Berlin?
Matt Lambert: I studied outside of Frankfurt in Uni and came back to Berlin a lot when living in London. After a couple years of non-stop commercial work in NYC, I realized I needed to get back to the basics and simplify in order to make.
What are the similarities and differences between the German capital and your hometown, LA?
Matt Lambert: They can both feel bleak, vast and dystopian...
What strikes you about the youth of Berlin?
Matt Lambert: This may not just Berliner's, but the new generation seems so much more open that the kids I grew up with. Their relationship to different ideas, people, sexuality, etc. come with little judgement. Berlin, though is also a place people come to get lost and swallowed up.
I'm fascinated by the airport. Can you tell me more about it?
Matt Lambert: Templehof is one of my favourite places in Berlin and I've recently moved next door. It's been around since 1923, reconstructed by the Nazi's in the mid-30's and closed a few years ago. The film is shot around Hermannstrasse in Neukölln and it ends at Templehof. The garden has been built and is run by the community. Prior to the pentagon, the templehof terminal was one of the biggest buildings in the world.
It was a symbol of Nazi megalomania and is now a home to beauty and reclamation. There were works camps on the premises and they built bombers there. It's now a serene socialist utopian experiment. From 48-49 a place where american planes landed to feed Berliners after the war despite soviet blockade. They were called Raisin Bombers. It was shut down because it became outdated and could handle the growth of the city.
How did you cast the film?
Matt Lambert: I met Paul through a friend who had been taking photos of him for a few years. I cast him in a role in an upcoming short film I'm releasing soon called 'Heile Gänsje". I then ran into him and Jakob at an open-air day party over the summer. When AG came to town and asked me to make a portrait of youth, I knew it had to be the two of them!
From Superheroes to Paul Und Jakob, a big theme seems to be what teenagers do when they're not doing anything. What did you do when you weren't doing anything when you were Paul or Jakob's age?
Smoke a lot of weed in Venice. Went to punk shows in Hollywood. Got drunk at backyard bonfire parties in the valley.
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