Director Andrew Dominik says Nick Cave’s new film ‘shows what he’s learned about loss’

Director Andrew Dominik says Nick Cave's new movie

Andrew Dominik, director of the new film This Much I Know To Be True, has spoken to NME about how the film depicts how far Nick Cave has come in his pain processing journey.

This Much I Know To Be True, in theaters for one night only tomorrow (Wednesday May 11), is a documentary meets performance film that focuses on the creative relationship between Cave and his bandmate. of the Bad Seeds and long-time collaborator Warren Ellis, and examines the making of his most recent albums “Ghosteen” and “CARNAGE”.

Dominik – known for writing and directing such films as Chopper, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Cowardly Robert Ford, Killing Them Softly and the upcoming Marilyn Monroe biopic Blonde – explained to NME how he met Cave in 1986.

“It was at a drug dealer’s house when I was an innocent private schoolboy,” he said, “I walked into the living room and there was the prince of darkness, sitting on the couch watching a documentary about earthworms. I started dating his girlfriend three months later and that’s how I met him. He was my girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend, so I didn’t want to like him, but God, he was good.”

Said ex-girlfriend was the titular Deanna from the Bad Seeds’ classic 1988 single. Dominik and Cave became friends on the phone before working together, before Deanna introduced him to Ellis backstage at a concert in the ’90s. by Dirty Three. After Cave and Ellis wrote the score for The Assassination of Jesse James in 2007, Dominik was commissioned to direct the 2016 documentary. One More Time With Feeling, which portrays Cave and his wife Susie dealing with the loss of their teenage son Arthur as the Bad Seeds completed their 16th album Skeleton Tree.

Dominik spoke to NME before news broke this week of the passing of another of Cave’s sons, Jethro Lazenby (whom he shared with Beau Lazenby), but explained that One More Time With Feeling showed the early stages of Cave and his wife Susie coped with his loss.

“One day he walked into a newsstand and saw a copy of Mojo and felt physically sick, because he realized that at some point he would have to promote the record he was working on. How the hell was he going to do it without talking about Arthur? How was he going to talk about Arthur with a bunch of journalists? I understood what he meant, so his idea was to make a movie.”

He continued, “At first I just wanted to do an acting movie, but I knew that at some point you had to deal with the context, but how do you do it without being exploitative? How do you do it without being ugly? It didn’t occur to us that What Nick was doing was brave. It just had to be addressed because there was no way around it.”

Moving on from that part of their lives, Dominik explained how the personal reflections of the intimate scenes with Cave in This Much I Know To Be True show “what Nick has learned in the last six years that he has to pass on to us.”

“Nick has survived and thrived,” says Dominik, “and has made it his mission to take Arthur’s death as helpfully as possible, and to be there for others.” The Nick from One More Time With Feeling wouldn’t believe the Nick from This Much I Know To Be True was possible. In that sense, this movie is good for you.”

Dominik added, “One More Time With Feeling tries to be positive and fails. This movie is really positive and shows that Nick has really learned something and has something to pass on; like someone who’s been struck by lightning. What Nick Has to Say It’s very simple. In One More Time With Feeling you see him groping in all kinds of directions, but it’s not a million different paths, it’s just one path. That’s the one we show in the movie.

“When something like this happens to you, there is no other response than total authenticity. People respond to authenticity with authenticity. Suddenly you are in this together and that makes you love your neighbor. It will happen to all of us.”

One of the focal points of the new film is the way Cave handles questions on his fan Q&A site, The Red Hand Files, in which he has shared advice and personal stories on a range of matters ranging from grief and loss to mental health and body positivity to whether you’ve ever met Nicolas Cage.

“I moved in with Nick at one point and he was writing ‘Ghosteen’ at the time, but what he was really interested in was The Red Hand Files,” Dominik said, “and I got to see him create a bunch of them.”

“He reads all the questions that come into The Red Hand Files and then picks the ones that interest him the most. Usually, if someone’s fucking life has fallen apart or they’re dealing with something really tough, then Nick has to answer that question with great responsibility because the person deserves it.

“Over the course of the week, I watched him refine his answer. I realized that Nick used The Red Hand Files to help his own mind heal. As he has to be responsible to others, he has to be responsible to himself . The Red Hand Files was really an act of self-love. I knew I had to have that on film and address it.”

The director also explained how the idea for the film began while Cave and Ellis were initially “trying to figure out what the hell to do in a pandemic” when they couldn’t go on tour, but soon focused on their friendship and collaborative relationship.

“They were supposed to do a year-long tour with a big band and 12 backup singers to get the vocals out of ‘Ghosteen,'” says Dominik, “but then the COVID thing happened and they had to figure out what to do. I think Nick I was home, bored, thinking, ‘Let’s get together and make a play date.'”

“They had literally just made ‘CARNAGE,’ just a couple of weeks before I went there to shoot. That and his relationship with Warren was just what was going on at the time.”

Asked why Cave and Ellis make such a creative couple, Dominik responded, “They adore each other; they’re family. It’s a back and forth. They’re two lovable guys, and to know them is to love them.

“Nick is one of the best songwriters in the world. If you’re going to be someone’s sideman, and Warren usurped that position to get his name on the poster and the movie, but there’s no one better to do it than Nick Cave. Warren says about Nick is that there is a lightning bolt following him.Combined, Nick and Warren create a third thing that they both find incredibly valuable and fun.

“They make it look easy, and maybe it is for them, but it can’t be for everyone. What’s amazing about them is the courage they have creatively to put themselves in situations of total vulnerability, where they don’t know if what they’re doing is good. . That’s very brave.”

Another highlight of the film is when the duo invites Marianne Faithfull to their performance to read a poem, which Ellis reverses and turns into a sample for a backing track on “Galleon Ship” from “Ghosteen.”

“In the film, it’s clear that Marianne is closer to the end than we are, but seeing the spirit in which she lives life in all its challenging glory is truly moving,” said Dominik. It’s not easy to read a 19th century poem and make every word shine. We were lucky to have Marianne Faithfull.”

He added: “It sounds like the voice of eternity; that constant thing that whispers to you. That song is about the heroism of love. When you know what you can lose, loving someone is really heroic. Nick has realized that you can lose it everything”.

This Much I Know To Be True will be in theaters for one night only on Wednesday, May 11. Tickets and screening information are available here. Read the NME’s review of the film here.

The Bad Seeds are currently lined up for a long series of tour dates throughout the summer.

Faith, Hope & Carnage, a new book by Nick Cave and Seán O’Hagan, appears on September 20.

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