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INT: Dir. David Christensen - SIX FIGURES


How much disappointment and frustration can a man take before he cracks under the pressure? For Warner Lutz, bottling up the resentment he feels to those around him is starting to take it's toll. His wife Claire, insists on purchasing a house they can barely afford, while his work at the not-for-profit organization has extended his probation period rather than grant him the one year contract he was counting on. Things start to unravel when Claire is attacked and Warner is suspected.

Nominated for a 2006 Genie for Best Adapted Screenplay, Writer and Director David Christensen transplants the North Carolina story into boomtown Calgary and sets his camera up to capture the story unfold in real time reality in his debut feature SIX FIGURES.

In a brutally honest, kind of 'within-earshot' style of filmmaking Christensen asks the question, "How well can we know each other?"

He was kind enough to answer a few questions for BlogTO.

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Describe SIX FIGURES in 6 words.

Hammer attacks don't solve anything.
or ...
Nobody knows anybody

There were times when I felt like I was walking on eggshells just waiting for someone to crack from the frustration of disappointment and doubt. What's great is that no one is let off the hook and that tension is layered throughout the entirety of the film. Since most of the tension is caused by the thought that we can't really know any one person fully, what do you believe are the most important things people SHOULD know about a person?

Perhaps one should know whether the other person has ever been convicted of a capital offense or hates small animals. But maybe not. There are certainly people somewhere in this country who may not want to know this or could care less. Where do you start? Should I know that they support the invasion of Iraq or that they go loopy for "The Gilmore Girls" or have a fetishistic attraction to antique lawnmowers? I think what you should know about the other person depends on that person. I think it depends on your relationship to the other person. What do you want from a particular person? What does that person want from you? The question doesn't have an answer because it would be foolhardy to list a set of things that one should know about other people.

The film and book's title SIX FIGURES is in direct relation to a desired annual salary. Is money important?

Well, I'm not sure what sort of person would respond that money isn't important although that may be simply a failure of imagination on my part. So they short and answer is: yes. And ... that's one take on the title for sure. But there are also six characters in the film as well.

Your background is documentary filmmaking. What are the similarities between the two (documentary and dramatic filmmaking) and what can one filmmaking style learn from the other?

My documentaries don't look anything like SIX FIGURES. The latter is very formal in its style while the former tends to be very much in a cinema verite mould. But one of the cross-over points for me was that my experience in the documentary world helped with working with the actors. When I'm making documentary films, I'm always observing how people act and react, how they hold themselves, what their body language is saying, and how they are interacting with people around them. Closely observing real people helped to bring a sense of veracity to the characters in SIX FIGURES. As well, I like documentaries like the ones Frederick Wiseman and Alan King make, films that don't have either a narrator or interview and, as such, leave it to the audience to meet the film halfway and to find their way into the characters. In effect, it's filmmaking for people with grown-up minds and moral discernments. I tried to bring a sense of that to SIX FIGURES by not underlining either mood or meaning with broad strokes.

Are there any another projects in the works?

I get worried when I'm just sitting around with my feet up on the desk and twiddling my thumbs, so yes, there are a few things in the works. I'm working on a couple of feature scripts and two documentaries as well as a series for PBS in the United States.

SIX FIGURES opens in Toronto March 31.


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