Tilda Swinton prefers not to be called an actor.
Despite the fact that she commands the screen any time she appears, Swinton considers herself more of a filmmaker.
In an interview with Salon.com about her latest movie I Am Love, which Grace Chu reviewed last week, she explains that acting is a relatively minor contribution compared to everything she brings to the movie.
“This is something that was put together with paper and string by a group of people who made it happen in a very self-determining way. I suppose my main contribution to this film is as co-generator and producer. The fact that I’m in it feels like it’s taken up much less of my time, and — to a certain extent — less of my attention. It describes much more my activity in relation to this film that I co-produced it.”
I Am Love is the first movie in which she has a producer credit, but certainly not the first time Swinton has been the catalyst for a film. She was, after all, the muse of queer director Derek Jarman. But Swinton and director Luca Guadagnino have been working on I Am Love for 11 years. Why so long?
It’s not actually that exotic for a film like this to take a long time. Of course, … we’re talking having an idea originally, kicking it around over a bottle of wine for about four years, and gradually getting up the courage to think it might be something you can do. This kind of slow farming, as I think of it, with the seed in the ground for a very long time, is pretty much par for the course for me.
To Swinton, I Am Love is a new kind of film.
I call it sense-ational, something that’s cinematic in that you are taken out of your own experience, and not only with a 3-D pair of specs. I love the way in which 3-D can put you into a place, and this is sort of lo-fi 3-D — that’s the idea we’ve been talking about for 11 years.
The film accomplishes that goal by “placing the audience in the camera.” In one scene, for example, guests are arriving at a banquet when the camera zooms in on the woman taking their coats. It’s a non-linear movement, but makes sense — as the camera, you are watching the guests, then turn to see the coats being put away, then go back to the guests.
The trailer gives us a glimpse of the intimacy that results.
Swinton’s approach to filmmaking seems to be similar to her approach to her career: she sees what she wants to do and then does it. She told Cinematical, however, that she’s not all that methodical about her career path.
I love the idea that I’m planning my own course. I almost want you to keep that fantasy in your mind. I don’t want to tell you the truth, which is that I’m absolutely making everything up as I go along and I’m not aware of having a career at all, let alone a career path. I’m aware of having a life and I’m very invested in my life.
The investment certainly has paid off in a marvelous, if unconventional, slate of films. And she has no intention of letting convention intrude at this point in her life. Case in point: Cinematical mentioned that she seemed destined to be a Dame, joining the great British women actors honored by the Queen. She said:
A dame? I’d so much rather be a knight… I think Sir Tilda sounds so much better.
I have to agree. One thing Tilda Swinton is not, is a dame.