The 4th Dimension premiered at this year's Philadelphia Film Festival amid much acclaim and sold-out screenings. Three local filmmakers, Tom Mattera, Dave Mazzoni (a co-writing/co-directing team), and producer Daniel M. Kalai created an enigmatic sci-fi/philosophical/psychological/think-piece that manages to avoid most of the pitfalls of your average sci-fi/philosophical/psychological/think-piece and, what's more, found a pretty sizeable audience for it. The film went on to win the NFL Technical Achievement Award from the Philadelphia City Paper Festival of Independents. Tom, Dave, and Dan sat down with, um, the website recently to give their views on the making of the film.
DDT: What is it like to co-direct a film? Does anyone have “final cut?” Is one better with actors and the other better with camerawork? (For Daniel: What is it like to work with two directors at once?)
Tom Mattera: Dave and I work very well together. We are both on the same page – it’s almost like we share the same mind, even though we are have completely opposite temperaments. Dave is fast-paced, while I am very laid back. During brainstorming, our opposite demeanors coming together result in a lot of energy and emotion in our work. We also keep each other in check – there’s always the option of having a second set of eyes on each of our ideas to be sure that they really work in the overall scheme of things.
We collaborate on every aspect of the production, and every creative decision that is made. On set, we meet with each actor together. It serves as a group session where we offer suggestions while not limiting the actors from a truly organic performance. It makes for a very free and creative environment. We’ll also meet with our director of photography (Daniel Watchulonis) as a group and treat it the same way. It’s great that there are two of us, because as a director, you need to cover a lot of ground. Once we have had our initial meetings, and the scene is under way, Dave and I are interchangeable – so we can bounce back and forth between actors, camera, production design, etc. It’s like being at two places at once.
Daniel Kalai: I had my apprehensions at first about working with two directors. Opinions can differ and creative visions can change. This was never the case with Dave and Tom. They always knew what they wanted and that made my job easier and sometimes more difficult. They were always open to new ideas and invited my opinions on many issues. It was never about ego. It was always about making the best film. Dave and Tom always collaborated with all elements to make the best film we collectively could.