Film

Hit Me: Interview with Michael Mizrachi

by Joy Bernard | 16.05.16

This week’s cinema pick is Hit Me, brought to you by Tel Avivian director Michael Mizrachi. Is it love at first sight or just wishful thinking? And who thought seduction could look and feel so thrilling in a bowling alley?

We talked to director Michael Mizrachi who got us aching to put on our bowling shoes and explained how love at first sight still stands a chance in a world where people meet on Facebook and Tinder.

Hey Michael. Can you please tell our readers a bit more about what you do?

Michael: “I’m Michael, I’m 20 years old and I come from Tel Aviv. My passion for video found its expression when I was a six year- old boy. I started making all of these stop-motion and animation videos, and continued to develop my craft, learning most of what I now know online. I opened my own YouTube channel (electroulette) when I turned 13 with the purpose of making viral videos and within a year, that actually happened. Today my channel has overall 1.4 million views.

In high school I learned film and now that I’m in the army I serve as an after-effects artist at one of the IDF’s film units.”

Hit Me can definitely be declared a success- it has been received so well everywhere, which I’m sure is a wonderful and humbling experience. It’s so endearing and easy to identify with, and I think that it’s because it describes heartbreak in a very light and airy manner that doesn’t take itself too seriously. I mean- you’re not depicting some dramatic breakup or showing a miserable guy who is fed up with relationships. What we have here is some sort of daydream. Loneliness.

How did you come up with the idea of dedicating an entire film to this experience of revolving doors, the almost but not quite there, the loss of something that never was?

Michael: “The film first manifested as a monologue written by my friend Eden Dolev. I received the text in an email and as soon as I read it, I realized that I wanted to make a film out of it. I felt that the simplicity and directness of the words unleashed a lot of feelings and thoughts that were buried deep within me. For a brooding young man, love is a meaningful, heavyweight subject and I felt that it would be right to make a film about my daily experience of it, the repressed emotion and the inhibitions I have when I meet someone I like. I knew that everyone could relate to that.”

I can’t find the words to express how much I enjoyed the visual experience in this film. The photography, the art- it was a pleasure for the eyes!

Running a parallel between the process of falling in love and some game is very clear, and I think that your use of the bowling game itself, the slowness of it, the pace that builds up- all of these really helped to construct the erotic flirtation you focused on.

How did you decide to use bowling as a means to convey to your viewers that experience of getting sucked into a daydream and the fantasy about a relationship?

Michael: “Bowling is a special metaphor that signifies a myriad of things. To me it symbolizes innocence, passion and nostalgia. When you bowl you have to discard all of your masks, you become devoted to the game and to your partners and together with them, you take part in a unique experience which is partly silly and funny and partly serious and suspenseful. In the field of dream interpretation, bowling symbolizes sex, and because part of the attraction is sexual, I felt that it was a great metaphor that made the film very complete.

Aside from using it as a the running theme of the film, it also has a lot of elements that hint at the characters’ wishes, at the naive level of infatuation but also on deeper levels.”

It’s not at all obvious to make a film, as short as it may be, whose entire plot takes place solely in your protagonist’s mind. And on top of that, you also chose not to have any dialogue in the film. In a way, these choices put the art and the actors’ work and mimics in the spotlight, forcing them to carry the film through. Were you afraid of this challenge?

Michael: “It definitely was a challenge. Throughout it all, I wasn’t even sure what I was making here. Was it going to be a short film? Video Art? A clip? When you’re not sure it’s very challenging. At one point I realized that it doesn’t really matter, there’s an idea here that I want to convey, I know how it’s going to look and feel and when I understood that I was going to draw specific elements and ideas from each of the aforementioned genres and combine them, I was finally confident and at peace with it.

The work with the actors was challenging, the entire film was filmed in 240 frames per second, which means that every second of shooting turns into ten seconds on the screen. From the very beginning I explained to the actors what this really meant, that all of their movements had to be very rapid but never too sharp, so that they’d look natural. I think what really expresses their feelings the most are their eyes, and when they act well with their eyes in slow motion, everything else is just a bonus.”

You placed your film in a bowling alley, which hasn’t been part of the mainstream leisure culture in a long time. You also chose to address the subject of love at first sight, which hardly happens these days for all sorts of reasons.

Personally, I believe that beyond the natural feeling of shame that most people felt in their lives, the Y and Z generations are hooked to their iPhones and tablets. Therefore- they simply don’t develop this kind of communication. I can hardly imagine people falling in love on a bus, simply because their headphones prevent them from paying attention to their environs. Was it your original intention to romanticize old-fashioned courting rituals or is it just your nature as a director and/or as a private person?

Michael: “I placed my film at a bowling alley for a few reasons. Firstly because the fantasy about bowling automatically characterizes my protagonist as an innocent guy who is very nostalgic and romantic, very in love. Secondly, my film is about love at first sight and I think that there’s something timeless about bowling and vintage, as much as love is timeless.

Bowling can be very aesthetic and I think that a guy’s perfect fantasy should be aesthetic. I wish everyone fell in love like this. Maybe our world would be a happier place without Facebook and Tinder.”

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Watch Hit Me on Telavivian Cinema.

Telavivian Cinema is a project which will unveil work of cinematic art crafted by local directors.

From animation to drama to comedy, Telavivian short films will be streamed weekly and accompanied by our conversations with the their talented makers. Make sure you stay tuned for the screenings, as the films featured in the magazine will change on a weekly basis.

Telavivian Cinema is curated by Joy Bernard.

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