The Filmmaker’s House
In a series of interviews, documentary maker Marc Isaacs crafts a feature film in his own home, starring the people he finds around him: some builders working in his garden, his next-door neighbour, his cleaner and a local homeless man. The idea is borne out of Isaac’s long-term frustration with the documentary industry, and the will to take a risk and try something new. The experiment is admirable but it does not deliver.
Isaacs composed the film as he went along, working alongside Adam Gants and a small creative team. The project started with a discussion of the concept of hospitality, and the process was improvised. Ganz says, “We would discuss script options in the evening and look at rushes the next day.” It is a shame that such a novel idea does not work for its audience. Much of what happens feels insensitive and even invasive; for instance, Isaacs’ cleaner comes in to work for him when her mother has just died, and the filmmaker grills her about her grief when it is clear she does not want to talk. It is uncomfortable to watch.
There are pleasant moments – among them a big meal with everyone coming together – but in general the production feels like forcing square pegs into round holes. The characters are not often allowed to speak for themselves as there is a constant sense that the director is trying to shape them into something unnatural.
Ultimately, The Filmmaker’s House is interesting insomuch as it invites questions. It is not quite clear what it is about or what the filmmaker is trying to do, but in some ways that is the whole point – Isaacs wanted to be able to play and try things out. It is an exciting exercise that will undoubtedly provoke strong opinions both in favour and against, in this case largely the latter.
The Filmmaker’s House is released in select cinemas on 29th January 2021.
Watch the trailer for The Filmmaker’s House here: