Talk Talk: Cold War Kids Drummer Matt Aveiro On His Film 'Jen In The Painting'

Those wacky Cold War Kids. Not simply content with being one of the most successful indie rock acts to come from Orange County, they're now putting their imprints on different forms of artistic expression--starting with drummer Matt Aveiro, whose short film Jen In The Painting premieres at 9:45 p.m. next Thursday, October 15, at the Art Theatre in Long Beach. Tickets for the screening can be reserved here.

Check the trailer out up there (contains some very slight near-nudity in a figure-drawing context; might be considered NSFW for those with less libertine workplaces), and then read our Q&A with Aveiro, to learn more about the film, his experience putting it together and what's next for the now Long Beach-based band.

Is this your first film project? Do you have a background in film?

It's the first thing that I've actually done. I've been interested in film for a while. Just comes from lengthy discussions about film with my friend (Vern Moen) from Ventura who produced the film. He also had some of the resources to actually make it happen, with the crew and all that.

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What filmmakers influenced you along the way?

For this project specifically, I guess a big one would be Six Moral Tales by Éric Rohmer. Just the subtlety of those films, and I suppose the subject manner as well, and the manner in which they deal with them, being sort of very subtle, would be I guess the easiest way to put it. Using very little music. Almost no close-ups to manipulate the audience. I wouldn't say mine was terribly similar stylistically, but it takes elements from that. Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage is another one.

The short stories of Raymond Carver were big in the writing of the script. All those influences feel very appropriate not just for my film, but the format of a short film. From what I've seen, there tends to be a lot of films where the product can't match the ambition. I definitely found it more appropriate to sort of make something simple and tell a story we could tell with our resources, and not get in over our heads as far as not being able to actually produce our ideas.

Did you approach it first as writer or director? Is it a case of having a story first, and then deciding to direct it?

It was written to be a film. I just felt more capable of telling a story in that sort of medium, because that is what I had been so heavily immersed in; writing it, and talking to a lot of friends that had been doing film projects. Definitely, in the writing of the story, I was thinking about it visually, and how it played out as a short film. How do you take this little fragment of these relationships and tell a complete story in 17 minutes? How do you tell that story in such a short amount of time?

What are some of the challenges in telling a complete story in only 17 minutes? That's shorter than a sitcom without the commercials.

Seventeen minutes was arbitrary. With the very little knowledge I have on how to budget a film, I guess I had always imagined it as 10 to 20 minutes. That's where someone like Raymond Carver came in. He manages to capture that same emotion in five pages. I think that was, like, hugely influential, and encouraging in a way, in that you can do something; since it's not an experimental short, it's a narrative short. It definitely is difficult to do in that period of time.

How heavily were you involved in casting and other elements of production besides writing and directing?

I had absolutely no connection with anyone other than Vern. And I think Vern's connections were pretty limited. (Laughs.) I came across a guy Adam Arkapaw, who lives in Melbourne, and I was just floored by his reel. I was literally just emailing him the script, as far-fetched as that is, him living halfway across the world. Casting, I used a friend, and some people I met along the way, through mutual friends. I was pretty involved with doing almost everything. We didn't put any ads in Cragislist or anything. Since I was financing it, writing it, directing it and co-producing it, it was pretty much a day-to-day thing I was involved in. Me and Vern were really the two guys working heavily on everything.

So Arkapaw came all the way from Australia to serve as director of photography?

That's right. He flew over. I think he might have had some ulterior motives, it was his first time in America. He had a meeting with an agency in Los Angeles. I hadn't even spoken to him on the phone before we met in LAX, and it actually worked out pretty incredibly. I think he did a beautiful job with the film, and I couldn't be more happy with the work relationship and the project.

How long did it take to film? When did you do it?

It was four days. It was July. I guess I finished the script in mid-January. It was a really short script, like eight pages. It just all sort of happened in a way that I couldn't anticipate. I don't think we even booked shooting dates till the month before. I think I bought Adam's tickets like three weeks before we started shooting.

Where was it filmed? Long Beach?

Yeah, most of it was. There was one location that was in LA in Koreatown. Beyond that, I filmed in my apartment, a friend of mine's apartment. And the Wine Crush in Long Beach, we brought food and made it look like a restaurant.

What's the next step for the film? Hitting the festival circuit?

I'm sort of in the process now of submitting it to different festivals. The first deadline was Sundance. Just at this point, working on some other festivals. Just excited about the show next week.

OK, have to ask, anything new with the band we should know about?

Pretty much just working on the (third) record right now. We're in pre-production for the record. We have an EP that's coming out in January. And all pursuing our individual sort of, artistic ambitions, as well, as much as we can.

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