Interview: S G Collins

Posted 13 years ago / Features

Postwar Media is based in Amsterdam since March 2003 and produces distinctive video productions on a high level. C72 works for Postwar sometimes and we got a little bit curious. Time to ask S G Collins some questions.


Tell something about yourself.

I’m a heterosexual


How did you end up in Amsterdam?

I wanted to live in Amsterdam since I was 17, and finally came here when I ran out of excuses not to. That was in early 2003. I was divorced, freelance, my girlfriend had dumped me, my friends were leaving boston, I’d just been paid for a good gig, and America was trying to start another war. It seemed like a good time to flee.


How did Postwar Media begin?

Postwar media, per se, started in 2000 when I needed a production company to go behind my indie feature The Same Side of Rejection Street. Once I moved to Amsterdam it made sense to start my new company under the same name, since it represents a wish for peace. It was compulsory that I started a production company here in order to get my verblijfsvergunning (residence permit). So I just kept doing what I had always done, only in a different town.


Your movies are far from average (in a positive way), where do you get your inspiration from?

It depends on the moment. Sometimes I’m influenced by things people say, or by the look of the food on my plate, or the way someone dances. But what happens a lot to me, is that something I’ve seen many years ago comes up subconsciously to influence what I’m thinking of now. For example, after making Rejection Street in 2000 I realized later that I was really trying to imitate Alain Tanner’s Jonah of 1975. On the conscious level I had totally forgotten Tanner’s film, but it stayed with me under the surface, so I was imitating him unconsciously (and not very well, I might add). Which makes me wonder if that new Coldplay song is an accidental rip of Kraftwerk’s Computer Love or did they just figure we wouldn’t notice?


What is your specialty?

I specialize in listening for completely obvious and unexpectedly brilliant utterances. I write them down in my little notebook when I hear them. Sometimes I read them back later to the people who first uttered them. For example, two weeks ago I wrote down when a friend said ‘you know I am the sort of person who is a woman.’ And tonight I saw her again and read that back to her. I’m the only person I know who does this. So I think that’s my specialty.


What to you is the importance of audio with video?

Again I think it depends on the situation. The big difference between video and radio is that in video someone has turned on some lights. But one thing I noticed was that during the 1990s, people in postproduction companies became enamored of big, overpowering sound design to go with all movies, whether the movie wanted it or not. For a few years I was also swept away, because great sound design is so, I dunno, visceral. It shakes you to the core. But over time I realized that this was the same thing as making everything blink and shake a lot in vision: if you make things blink and shake enough, the viewer comes away with the illusion of having had an experience, instead of a real experience. A real experience is more complex and subtle. Then I began to resent the intrinsic violence of that. I have enough violence in my own soul; if I’m going to be violent in my work too, I’d like it to be intentional and for a reason. So I didn’t like how everyone always insisted that the sound design be so kickass. I felt that the people I worked with began to lose sight of subtlety and enslave themselves to loudness for its own sake. Kinda like the egotistical architects who would rather be famous and memorable than just create neighborhoods that work. I think this is because digital sound design was first really coming into its own in the 1990s, the field is widely immature, and everybody just figured that more was better. The great Ken Michaels taught me that ‘more is not better; more is more.’ That’s how I feel about sound design these days. More isn’t better. Good is better.


Photo: screen cap from Same Side of Rejection Street © Postwar Media / S G Collins