SAN JOSÉ, CA. “All my films deal, in some way, with self-actualization—with characters coming to terms with themselves and who they are,” film Producer, Director, and Writer, RUSSEL BROWN tells CULTURAL WORLD BILINGUAL talking about his fourth narrative feature SEARCH ENGINES, that was exhibited at CINEQUEST FILM FESTIVAL in San José.
As part of our conversation, he tells us that he sees his films as “metaphors” that don’t reflect the world as it is, but as “how” he sees the world, and as “how” his characters see their worlds. “My films are also very much about language,” he adds, “how we use words, and how words can also betray us.” A simple statement such as “So much of life is waiting for something to happen.” coming from the mouth of one of his characters, is a good example of BROWN’s “drafted dialogue, ” that by very careful selection of words, conveys his message to the audience.
In SEARCH ENGINES, (The name BROWN gives to all the electronic gadgets people use today to do their daily tasks) BROWN, the writer, used the interactions of his characters with their particular “search engines,” to build a story. while BROWN, the Director, the power of the camera and its moving pictures, to show us our fallacies, but not as a mirror, but as a metaphor, with all the things we do, being done by other people. So, when we see the edited (CHRISTOPHER MUNCH) images of the things we do all the time, they make us laugh. But BROWN's images are powerful, They have a power similar to the power that the images from the films of Producer, Director and Writer FRANK KAPRA, (l897-l991)had in his audience. They stick to our minds, and make us ponder, and leave us wondering for their meaning.
Answering to our question of how did he get the idea for this film he says: “It started as a personal reflection, when I questioned by own “addictive” relationship with technology and I began relating it to the other things that people do, like shopping online, dating online, etc. so, I began questioning how much time I spent doing these things and lots of more questions came to my mind: Why I am doing these things? How much time I am spending is these things? Are they important to me? What is lacking in my life that I am trying to fill it with my phone? After that I started thinking how funny it was, and how it was something that everybody I know is doing, and that the subject matter was a subject that had not been done in a comedic way. That’s how SEARCH ENGINES started.”
After watching SEARCH ENGINES we concluded that this film was the “perfect” conduit for a Cinematic person like RUSS BROWN, who uses narrative, visuals, music and dialogue together in his movies’ to convey their theme. (he has four movies) Do his theme recurs?
“Yes, he says "Self-realization” is the theme that recurs in all my movies. The characters learning something about themselves and coming to a relationship with themselves. All my films have “this moment” when the characters reckon with themselves. My themes are sharply defined, and thought about, and the language in my movies is “very specific and very deliberate.” My dialogue “very clean" and very exact. “
L-R JOELY FISHER with real mother CONNIE STEVENS
Acted by DAPHE ZUÑIGA, JOELY FISHER, MICHELLE HURD, NATASHA GREGSON WAGNER, BARRY WATSON, JONATHAN SLAVIN, DEVON GRAY, and singing and acting legend CONNIE STEVENS. SEARCH ENGINES is a comedy that shows the audience how people, (in this case a family and some friends, who are together to celebrate Thanks Giving, are really isolated from each other because, their connection with their cell phones and electronic search engines, had taken predominance in their lives.
Now, these individual dependent on their "search engines" for everything: for entertainment, references, cooking, driving, guides, playing, talking with other people, and even taking pictures, At the end “these engines” became their best friends. Every one of them is aware that they can always depend on their “engines,” which is true, ... until their engines lose their signal.
SEARCH ENGINES may be described as a clever comedy with a unique twist. Its acting, even that of the character of the little girl, is professional. All the roles are playing naturally. And because as a student of USC BROWN was always turned on by courses in literature and History of film, and by movies that have a great use on language, he taught himself to writes true-to-life dialogue. His dialogue is also “Individual” meaning capable to define each one of his many characters giving each one his or her own “voice” and his or her own words. The clever subject of this film and its presentation, keeps the audience interested. The cinematography (CHRSTOPHER GOSCH) is excellent. The scenes are well-focused and the images sharp. BROWN’ the Director, keeps the action moving. The universality of the film’s subject matter helps the the audience relate with its characters. SEARCH ENGINES was one of the best comedies presented this year in CINEQUEST.
L-R BARRY WATSON and NATASHA GREGSON WAGNER
Finishing our interview, we ask BROWN why he ended SEARCH ENGINES the way he did. He smiles. “During CINEQUEST, a lot of people asked me about the ending.” he says “The movie starts in a very realistic way and everybody thinks that this is really happening, but as the movie goes deeper and deeper into the subject matter, intentionally, it gets more surreal, more strange, and more metaphorically. So, everybody can observe (at this point) that all the characters are now taking on behavior that really could not happen in real life".
"The last scenes of the movie are its theme. the little girl becomes a metaphor for all of us, when she goes wondering on the streets with stretched arms, searching for connection. The woman who gets lost while driving, and ends up on a dead end street. also represents all of us, lost while walking into this huge vast of information, holding our cell phones."
"Search Engines" - Festival Trailer from Russell Brown on Vimeo.