With our Breaking The Scene segment we typically like to dissect a particular stand out scene from a film. A couple of weeks ago our eyes crossed paths with Post Panic’s new “Branded” film ‘A Report of Connected Events‘: a (master)piece that explores iconic moments in film and television history, blurring the lines between our reality and some of our favourite stories. Director Mischa Rozema (who also directed our 2015 Top 10 winner, Sundays), managed to create a barrage of stand out scenes that all need equal dissection – and in turn has challenged its viewers to find all the references and Easter Eggs – a movie buff’s dream movie! We’ve reached out to Mischa to see if he can help us with some of the missing links.
We highly recommend to watch the film before to avoid any spoilers.
Hey Mischa, thank you for taking the time for doing this. We know your not going to give away all the references, but let’s give it a shot! First of all, tell us how this entire concept came about? What came first, the references or the locations?
Mischa: Actually, the project started quite the opposite. The first script I wrote involved a very well known actress telling us about the power of storytelling and some insane plot developments. But as time, negotiations and schedules kept colliding, I came up with the idea to write the exact opposite. What if the environment is the star and the people in it are just spectators, inhabitants. So instead of ‘telling’ about the power of stories, I wanted to show the stories themselves.
So now I needed a ‘theatre’ in which I could tell my stories. I created this alternate reality where this would actually be believable. A city that’s out of place and time.
Now I’ve always been an architecture buff, so when I get the change to ‘build’ an environment, I usually go all out. Over the years I’ve collected an enormous amount of architecture, landscapes and locations that somehow appeal to me, good or bad. This setting in particular has always been top of my list material. Every time I drove past this particular complex I thought: one day I will… I’ve always been fascinated by the architecture of Ricardo Bofill. The sheer scale and symmetry against the almost inhuman functionality of his structures is bordering fascism. They send a very powerful, dark, surreal and cinematic message. Just the thing I was looking for. Paris is actually pretty known for its Brutalism.
So once I had an idea on how I wanted to tell these stories, it was just about hooking them up with ‘a theatre’/location.
So let’s get right to the beginning of your film, any references we are missing in the first 20 seconds?
Mischa: yep 😉
Mischa: I wanted to introduce a character that we can emotionally identify with. The old lady herself is not a reference here but she interacts with these known stories like they’re everyday objects. It’s a subtle introduction that these references are physically part of this world and actually helping her deal with her reality.
The war planes through Paris scene is probably one of the most memorable from the short (it kind of reminds us of the plane crash scene from ’Sundays’), we’re assuming this is from Empire of the Sun, but are there any other war movie references in this sequence?
Mischa: Definitely an ode to Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun. I remember that film made quite an impression on me when I was young. And Christian Bale’s acting at that age was incredible.
We’d like to say X-Men here.. but not quite sure.
Mischa: Quite the other end of the spectrum. It’s an iconic shot from Lars von Trier’s Melancholia. In the actual film the air is static as a planet is about to hit earth. It’s a perfect metaphor for something profound is about to happen; couldn’t let that one go!
But I absolutely love the fact that you’re seeing X-men there. I want this film to be completely open for interpretation. I’d love people to mould and own the film, make it a personal experience.
That is exactly what’s great about this film, you are teasing with people’s memories really.
Akira! Thank you for making a 3D model of this. Kick ass!
Mischa: That bike needs to be build!
Mischa: I wanted a typical water cooler conversation. A recognisable situation for anyone. I used Breaking Bad as that was actually a conversation I heard all the time around me. Seemed like everyone but me was watching it and had something to say about it. So I weaved in this conversation as a side plot, an ’off topic’ chat between 3 criminals, much like Tarantino used to write them in his earlier work and have it invade their actual reality.
There’s a little joke in there nobody picked up on, when the guy with the gun says: “No, no, no. Jesse in his undies is the shit!” It should of course be: “Walter in his undies”! That guy with the gun is ignorant lil’ me… I ended up watching Breaking Bad, so all is good.
Funny, we were wondering why there was no Tarantino reference in there, but now that you mention it, these guy kind of tie that in! And right-on with the Breaking Bad water cooler conversation… I heard those same conversations before I started watching the show. And then of course was one having the conversations after watching it.
The pig balloon must be from something, I’ve seen it somewhere but can’t put my finger on it!?
Mischa: Children of Men! In turn that movie is referencing Pink Floyd’s Pigs! It’s getting meta now…
Were you able to get Ryan Gosling to reprise his role in Drive?
Mischa: The next best thing though! Our location manager: Aliou Dosso. This guy literally kept us safe during the shoot, by dealing with local drug lords and gangs. The area’s we filmed in, were by no means safe.
Tell us about these 3 goons, they clearly give this entire film the human link and character attachment, are they based on anyone or purely fictional?
Mischa: Fictional but based on known cinematic language. Absolutely loved working with them. I didn’t just want 3 guys chatting away there. I wanted to create a whole backstory around them. One that would make you think: What the fuck is going on here!? If you look at them, you would never ever imagine them together. So your first question would be; how did these guys end up with each other? There’s your back story! Why is this guy wearing a neck brace? What happened? French? I love playing with details like this. Telling a story without telling anything. I was lucky to spend a bit of time with them to create these ‘team’ dynamics. They ended up delivering exactly what I was looking for.
Want to tell us about your ties to Spirited Away?
Mischa: I love the film but especially its non-western way of storytelling. It needed to be represented. There’s some more Studio Ghibli character wannabees in there.
The setting here had us confused in thinking it was Westworld (also fresher in our mind), but that “7” sign just cleared up everything! The Magnificent Seven.
Mischa: Good catch!
I don’t think anyone can miss 2001! Tell us all you have to say about this classic reference?
Mischa: Best film ever! I just have to periodically watch it to remind myself what an absolute beginner I am. I took my 10 year old son to a 70mm screening last year. I warned him about the pace etc. but he was completely blown away by it. Without a doubt the most visionary piece of cinema ever created.
I don’t remember a suicide jump in V For Vendetta…
Mischa: Again a matter of interpretation. Is it a suicide jump or a ‘super hero’ jump? Is he killing himself or ‘saving the day’, ‘making sure ‘the truth is never ever forgotten’. You decide!
Was trying really hard to place that golden statue from somewhere… finally just noticed the 12 Monkeys stamp.
Mischa: The statue is actually introduced earlier but only makes sense the second time you see it. Well spotted.
The reference here?
Mischa: Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. This is Radio Raheem’s story of life. One of the best examples I know of breaking the fourth wall. And one of the coolest characters known to men.
Fight Club, you gotta tell us why you used elderly folks for this one – gives it so much more dimension!
Mischa: If you look closely, you can recognise the old woman from the beginning together with our narrator (old man) sitting on the stairs. Now remember the woman in the beginning says her husband has been gone for 15 years. And here he is, alive and well. To take that one step further; the couple in the car in the next scene, is also them! We actually also scarred the young man’s right eye to drop a little hint. Unfortunately we don’t get to see that as we had to film from this side of the car and the sun was setting fast.
In this place, time is not linear. The narrator spells it out: ‘And just when you think, this is the end. Know that a new story is about to begin.’ Much like an eternal Groundhog Day.
This movie just got so much better, we gotta re-watch it a few more times now!
The grand finale! So much to grasp here, we’re just gonna name a few: Ghostbusters, Independence Day, District 9, War of The Worlds, there’s a couple of Blade Runner buildings back there… Please tell us more!
Mischa: What about John Carpenter’s They Live?
So tell us, what’s the exact number of references used?
Mischa: I’m afraid it’s just not an exact number. There’s some refs in there that are so loosely based, people might or might not count them. Don’t want to be scrutinized, it should be fun still. Sorry for the mystery 😉
Such a tease! But the challenge is on! Thank you once again Mischa, keep on making these incredible and memorable stories, looking forward to the next one!