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PEOPLEText: Ben Upham

Miska Draskoczy is a New York based designer and filmmaker. His latest film, ‘Perfect Heat‘, is premiering this month at the San Francisco Independent FIlm Festival and his previous short, ‘Golf Xpress‘played at TromaDance in Park City, Utah at the end of January. With a background in graphic design and fine art, Miska brings a unique approach to his filmmaking. I interviewed him about his latest works, the intersection of design, art and film and future projects.

Perfect Heat

Tell me a bit about where you are at right now, how you came to filmmaking from your graphic design work.

Well, I would say graphic design has always been the bedrock of my visual experience. I studied architecture and graphic design in college and before that lots of photography in high school. It was one of the first ways I learned to think visually and I came away from it with the idea that through even the simplest juxtaposition of visual elements, one’s personal psychology is inevitably transmitted. Give two people ten toothpicks and ask them to arrange them on a table. No one will ever do it the same, and the way each person arranges them tells you something about who they are. In the late 90’s when computers finally became fast and cheap enough to manipulate all sorts of media, this principle could be applied to shapes, photographs, music, video, everything really, with much greater ease. It became very exciting and something I always thought I would end up doing, film, started to seem more and more within reach. I had made some super8 films in high school and 3d animations in college, but it was hard to keep going without access to equipment or lots of money.

So what role does design play in your latest film, ‘Perfect Heat‘?

Beyond the focus on design of the props, sets, costume and animation, design is the metaphor that underlies the film. The film is about anxiety and the relationship between the two main characters, a doctor and patient, who are really lovers. The film takes place in three different realities where the man and woman are cast as guest and host on a talk show, lovers in a nostalgic flashback world and doctor and patient in a futuristic laboratory. In the laboratory segment the female doctor is performing experiments on the male patient to treat his anxiety using a technique called ‘contour therapy’. The idea behind this is that she is scanning his brain to produce a certain series of shapes which she can use to diagnose him – again this goes back to the idea of psychological transmission through shape. Later on the doctor sets up a target opposite the patient, wheels out a piece of lab equipment that has a gun attached to it and proceeds to blow his brains out. But instead of blood, the target is splattered with black ink blobs which overtake the laboratory reality and take us into an animated shape world inside the patient’s mind. There is a bit of masochism here, that the patient’s creativity and thoughts need to be forced out of him through violence, but also its about reducing the patient’s inner world, and in fact all worlds, to their basic building blocks, these shapes or bubbles which can morph and reshape into anything. They are the conduit between the three different realities in the film.

Perfect Heat

How did you come up with the idea for the film, is this based on personal experience?

Not literally of course, but yes, its a very personal film. Its based on my mindstate after 9/11 having lived in NYC only a few blocks from there, and the events going on with me in the years after that. I wanted to make something that was deeply connected to my life. It takes such an incredible amount of time and effort to make one of these films, over a year in this case for a ten minute piece, that it has to be of some personal meaning to me. I see the film as an experiment on my own mind, much like the patient in the film. Sometimes I’m still not sure I understand what it is that I made, I still think of ways to tease connections out of all of its parts. I learned a lot from the experience of making it.

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