I met Michael House about a month ago and liked his energy, spirit, and passion. He is a musician and filmmaker and makes films about misunderstood cultural figures. His subjects have included Bereniece Abbott/Eugene Atget, Jacques Tati, and W. Somerset Maugham. Michael will soon be making a short film about me and my tours, and I will keep you posted about that.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Southern California, Orange County. I grew up in San Diego, California then at 23 I moved to San Francisco where I lived for 12 years.
Why and when did you move to Paris?
I lived here first in 1991 for a year. My wife Julie and I came here to get married. We lived up in the 11é and fell in love with the city. We spent that year hanging around, learning French, getting to know the city, we loved it. After our year here we went back to San Francisco but we always dreamed of returning to France to live. Finally in 1999 we decided that the time was right, we sold all we had, packed up the cat and came back to Paris. We had no jobs, no idea of how we would survive but we did it anyway. I was so happy to be in Europe I knew we would find a way. I felt that in Europe a musician had more opportunity, looking back I see it was a bit mad, our savings ran out fast and we've had to really struggle however we are still here and still love living here.
You started off as a musician and composer. What was your training and also please tell us about your musical career.
My work in music started in San Francisco, I worked producing albums, jazz mostly. I also wrote music for advertising. After I came to Paris, I managed to get some gigs writing music for TV - BBC and others. Nothing glamorous, believe me - a lot of background music for daytime TV and more ads.
How and why did you get into filmmaking?
As a composer I was working in the TV/film world, I was always pitching my music to film/TV directors. During this time I saw many rotten films on art being made, I kept saying I could make better films then the ones coming out. One day, back in 2008 I decided to write a proposal to make a film about Eugéne Atget & Berenice Abbott, I asked a director friend to show me how a film proposal should be written and I just did it. To my surprise a Dutch broadcaster agreed to pay me to make the Atget/Abbott film. There was a big learning curve for me but I did OK and then I went onto make a film on Jacques Tati in 2009 and most recently a film on W. Somerset Maugham.
How has Paris influenced your filmmaking and which French directors have been the most influential?
I love cafés, I spend a lot of time reading and writing in them, this is very much a part of my life in Paris, I think of ideas for music and films in cafés. I also enjoy walking, I have always been a Flâneur. I suppose for directors I love Louis Malle (his documentary films I love most - Humain, Trop Humain, Place de la République), Jacques Tati (Les Vacances de Mr. Hulot, Playtime) Claude Sautet (Nelly et M. Arnaud), I really adore Cédric Klapisch (Chacun cherche son chat).
Please tell us about your most recent films.
My recent film release - 'Revealing Mr. Maugham' is about the life and work of author W. Somerset Maugham. It tells of Maugham's generally misunderstood life. Maugham was gay but had to hide this fact thus his life was a sad one, he died under a great shadow of negativity and the film I made tries to explain how this all came to be. Maugham is one of my favorite writers and he is still, 50 years after his death, very popular all over the world so I wanted to tell people about him, the real him.I am nearly done with a new film starring British actor Simon Callow, in follows Callow as he wrote, rehearsed and toured his one-man stage play 'Being Shakespeare'. This film should be out by early 2013.After that I am finishing up a film (Lolita's Butterfly) I started earlier this year about Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita's author), it is about his work with butterflies.
Dark Passage (1947)
Wings of Desire (1987)
The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (1952)
A Room with a View (1985)
'Concerto de Aranjuez' by Joaquin Rodrigo played by Narcisco Yepes
'You Belong to Me' Performed by Dean Martin
'The Infinite Desire' by Al Di Meola
'Manhattan' by Lee Wiley
Only an Expert' by Laurie Anderson
What filmmakers and films have inspired your work the most?
I am not really sure to be honest, strangely I think more about music and books than cinema when I'm making a film, I think of how to create an engaging rhythm and how to change moods to keep the films interesting, I don't look to films for these ideas but music and novels, so I have no film makers I can say influence me. Sorry that is not a very good answer to your question. Wait! I do greatly admire one film maker - John Cassavetes - for me he is an artist that all creative people should learn about, he made films and plays for the pure pleasure of the creative experience and I truly try to do that when I make a film or write music, otherwise why bother? - so Cassavetes has influenced me a lot.
If you had no budget or creative restraints, what film would you make and whom would you cast?
I am trying to raise the money to make a film about the first novel ever written The Tale of the Genji - it was written by a Japanese woman in the 11th century. I want to make a factual film about this novel and about how women have shaped fiction over the centuries. If I could have anyone appear in the film then hmmm, the American writer Anne Tyler I'd love to interview for this film, I'd also like enough money to hire some top Japanese animators to work on the film, then I'd like enough money to score it with my idol Ryuichi Sakamoto. Not very glitzy I know but this is what I'd choose if I could.
What do you prefer about Paris?
I have found in Paris people that I really like, particularly the expats creatives living here - I am friends with many artists, writers, painters etc. all of us working to get by and to have a fulfilling life. Paris is ideal for us, we meet up in cafés or at one another's apartment, commiserate and laugh off our troubles - it is rather wonderful actually, I never had this sort of life back in the USA, here we discuss art, books, the best places to holiday on the cheap, everyone has a film, an upcoming exhibition or a new book coming out it seems. So I suppose I prefer Paris because it stills is a magnet for artists to live and work.
Click here for more informtation and to download Michael's films
Below are trailers for Eugène & Berenice - Pioneers of Urban Photography, The Magnificent Tati, and Revealing Mr. Maugham.
I am happy to announce the sale of a new set of prints of my Eye Prefer Paris Photos. I am offering 20 of my most popular and iconic images for sale including my doors, architectural details, statues, and monuments. They will make great gifts for all your Francophile friends, relatives, and colleagues but don't forget to buy some for yourself.
Click here to see photos and for full details including sizes, prices, and shipping. Here is a sample of some of the photos.
New! Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook (with Olivia Kiang-Snaije). First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotte's professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
Cost: 185 euros per person (about $240)
Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
Location: We will meet by a metro station close to the market
Class days: Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday,Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Minimum of 2 students, maximum 6 students.
Click here to sign up for the next class or for more info.
I am pleased as punch to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Tours, which are 3-hour walking tours I will personally be leading. The Eye Prefer Paris Tour includes many of the places I have written about such as small museums & galleries, restaurants, cafes & food markets, secret addresses, fashion & home boutiques, parks, and much more.
Tours cost 195 euros for up to 3 people, and 65 euros for each additional person. I look forward to meeting you on my tours and it will be my pleasure and delight to show you my insiders Paris.
Check it out at www.eyepreferparistours.com