Fin Manjoo on No Matter, David Lynch and Cinematic Expression

Fin Manjoo is the writer-director behind Woodwind, an independent film Spling describes as “a stylish, enigmatic, beautifully composed and photographed music film, journey, soundscape, travelogue and spiritual quest for enlightenment”. Manjoo’s latest project called No Matter sees him tackling the Marikana massacre from a more conventional film-making standpoint.

Manjoo has written the screenplay and is in the pre-production phase, the production of which has been delayed due to the pandemic. Having the time to fine tune his collaborations, partnerships and vision for No Matter, Spling took the opportunity to find out more in this in-depth discussion. Addressing the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Manjoo’s previous project in relation to No Matter and the artist’s journey when it comes to film-making, you can listen to their conversation.

Venturing from lockdown entertainment choices to the psychology of cinema and Manjoo’s personal goals when it comes to film-making, this is an informative and insightful deep dive. Spling and Manjoo cover Gus van Sant, David Lynch, Miners Shot Down, film as entertainment and unpack some of the sacrifices within the context of working in the film industry.

Addendum: A Note from Fin Manjoo

In the interview, I was speaking about how in mainstream scriptwriting, you use formulae to fit into the psychology of the viewer. However, the psychology of my cinema is not toward a business model, but to help both the audience and the artist grow. When you’re making a movie, there’s this myth sometimes that you’re the only artist. No matter who you are, this is not true. When I finished Woodwind, the lead actor Leandro Taub told me that the film helped him grow as a person.

He wasn’t the only one, but I mention him because the journey of the character he played, Bonifaz. You see the actor Leandro lived that journey when we made the film, just as we all did in the cast and crew. I wasn’t surprised that artists in our team grew with Woodwind, and those audience members who placed themselves in Bonifaz’s shoes, felt and received the message too… but what struck me is how Woodwind transformed my own life, improved me as a person.

It’s not surprising when you write something and others learn from you, but it’s interesting when you learn something unexpected from yourself, I learnt what I never thought was possible in my life where the message didn’t just reach me through the literal text of the script, what I didn’t know was there, came from within myself, and long after the screenings of the movie and the marketing was completed, I was able to transcend even the tremendous physical journey and lessons we had faced on location in India, and then get in touch with the inner truth I had revealed to myself through the art of the deeper layers of the roots of my story.

So, you see, this isn’t about just psychological formulas but the psychological journey of the artist’s transformation, when I sit down to write a script, I’m going on such a transformative journey and the audience is coming with me. It’s not just during the movie, but at the end of the film, even months later, you want to experience the world and your own nature in a new way.