Kissing Metal Trilogy, Part 1: 'Hollywood Buddha'
"Philippe Caland's 'Hollywood Buddha' is captivating, droll, exasperating, sunny, and surprisingly soulful -- very much like the sprawling city it showcases and reveals. It made me laugh and touched my heart -- an increasingly rare film-going twofer."
-Arianna Huffington, Syndicated Columnist and Author
THE STORY OF HOLLYWOOD BUDDHA
In "Hollywood Buddha", Philippe Caland embodies the DIY (do-it-yourself) spirit, taking the philosophy far beyond simply being the writer/ director/ star. Every aspect of this film was created organically, with a most unorthodox approach. Shooting on mini-DV, Caland worked with various people behind the camera, depending on who was available at that particular moment. He shot on weekends, in his spare time, or simply when inspiration struck, eschewing the traditional approach to filmmaking in favor of a more personal, spontaneous experimentation.Caland employed that same organic process in the casting of "Hollywood Buddha", using people he encountered in his every day life to fill the characters’ roles. A trainer at his gym plays the star of "Dead Girl", the movie Caland’s character is trying to sell in the film. He found the woman who plays the ex-porn star in the Farmer’s Market, where she still works selling peaches. The Indian distributor in the film works at an office with a friend of Caland’s, and the Mexican mango mogul is a real estate agent who was trying to sell him property in Baja. His brother in the film is a banker, and his mother is played by his actual mother. His wife and daughter also appear in "Hollywood Buddha" as the family next door, while his quirky spiritual guru is played by one of his partners in environmental campaigns.
What’s most remarkable about Caland having used so many non-actors in "Hollywood Buddha" is the natural, convincing performances he was able to extract from the players. Using real locations also contributes to the authentic feeling of the film, most notably the frame of a house Philippe is living under in his tent is his actual home, fraught with construction delays, although it is now finally complete."Hollywood Buddha" also boasts an impressive soundtrack featuring songs by Sonic Vibe and Outsized, and an array of other cutting edge artists. During the shooting of the film, Caland only listened to music he knew he could license on the film’s limited budget, and consequently uncovered some remarkable gems. The soundtrack became so integral to the project that Caland began to write scenes around specific songs, in many cases matching up action and dialog with specific musical cues.
"For me the big journey here was deciding that this was a time to either get out of the film business," says Caland, "or follow my heart and come back to what I think I should have been doing for the past 15 years, which is directing instead of just producing. That’s why ‘Hollywood Buddha’ has been such a rewarding experience, because it’s given me the confidence to go forward. In that sense, the film is already a great success. Whether it materializes into anything more from this point on, it’s not important, because it’s already given me everything I need."
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