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Reintroducing Sparks: Edgar Wright and Russell and Ron Mael on The Sparks Brothers | Interviews

RUSS MAEL: My creativity kicks into gear once Ronny comes up with something creative [laughs]. 

RON: Russell has a studio in his place, so a lot of times now, we just kind of go in and just start working. It’s always just about doing it, even if you don’t feel like doing it, because there’s a lot of times [laughs] when you don’t feel like doing it. 

RUSSELL: The pandemic was actually a good source of inspiration, in a back-handed way. There’s a studio sitting right here, and while I wasn’t forced to be at his place so we couldn’t work together, I took the opportunity to try to come up with stuff here on my own. “I’m not going to sit here all day and moan about the situation.” I was doing stuff on my own that could be part of the next go-around of Sparks stuff. 

Credit: Anna Webber

Because you guys are the most creative people I’ve Zoomed with, I’m curious—how do you also deal wth failure, or the fear of failure? 

RUSSELL: I think part of it—hopefully that came across in the documentary too—is that fear is always sort of there, but it can’t be the end factor. If you’re concerned about it too much, then you’re going to make whatever you’re creating bland in a way, hoping that more people re going to like it. Sometimes that’s the recipe for disaster. Alex Kapranos spoke really eloquently about it in the documentary, saying that if you just do what you think your fans or your public is going to want to hear, then you’re maybe one step behind what you should be doing. 

Edgar, how do you feel about that especially as a filmmaker with a distinct voice, but whose projects always come with a great deal of expectation? 

EW: Well, I think if you don’t go into something with some kind of fear, that it may not work, that you’re not alive [laughs]. I think every film that I’ve gone into where I’ve done something new, or I have an idea of what I want, maybe I don’t know how to get it or just the execution of it is really challenging, you’re immediately on the tightrope walk already. The day you go to work complacent, it’s over. So, there’s not a day that I don’t go to work without butterflies in my stomach [laughs]. I think I have a high-functioning imposter syndrome. I read that Mike Nichols book recently, and I was thinking, even in his seventies, he still felt like he was going to get found out. And I remember thinking, Yeah, you are one of the most successful directors of all time! I think in a weird way, fear drives you in terms because it’s a bad thing if you get complacent or if you feel like you can be on autopilot. That’s not a good thing. 

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