Martin Guigui [Interview]


Today’s interview has been a long time coming. Years, actually. 4 of them to be even more precise. I became interested in the work of filmmaker and writer Martin Guigui around the time his film The Bronx Bull, an alternate take on the life of legendary boxer Jake LaMotta, was being created (later released in 2016). So I hit him up then. But, as it tends to happen, people become very busy and life continues on towards the slow march of death, and both parties seemed to forget it ever happened. But cut to four years later, we have a new (and disappointing) president, the world has changed significantly….and Martin has a new movie out! I hadn’t put it together that I hit him up so long ago, until I received these amazing responses to the original questions that had been buried in the depths of a Gmail Outbox. And let me be the first to say, it was well worth the wait!

Martin Guigui has been working in the world of film for over 25 years, and is also a Grammy Award nominated music producer and engineer, as well as a respected author and so much more. Basically, this cat is an artist through and through. His latest film is the recently released, and to some unnecessary controversy if I must add, 9/11 featuring Charlie Sheen with his return to dramatic acting. The film also features Whoopi Goldberg, Luis Guzman, Gina Gershon, Wood Harris, and Olga Fonda. The story of 9/11 is one of specificity and spectacle. A group of people are trapped in an elevator during one of the most infamous terror attacks in world history. Despite the recent bullshit backlash, I am very intrigued by the concept of this film. In recent years, theatrical depictions of the events that occurred on September 11th, 20o1 have been based around the after effects of the event, rather than the event itself. And they have been pretty good (i.e. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Reign Over Me). But, the films depicting the event itself have been less than noteworthy to say the least. Oliver Stone’s disaster of a film, World Trade Center, was simply insulting to the heroes of this terrifying day. United 93 was slightly better, but extremely rushed to put it gently. So with that, and knowing what Mr. Guigui has created in the past, I am very excited to see what his take will be on a very challenging event to to depict theatrically, with his adaptation of Patrick Carson’s play.

So with that, while we spend the day reliving one of the most terrifying events of not just America, but of the world, please take a moment to understand that through their art, people like Martin Guigui are simply attempting to use their work to express the heartache and terror that we all felt on that fateful day, and the pain that still lives within all of us in remembrance. Ladies and gentlemen, the brilliant Martin Guigui!

You were born to the acclaimed Symphony Orchestra Conductor Maestro Efrain Guigui. In ways obvious and not, how did your father influence your career in the world of film as well as music?

I learned 2 important lessons from my Dad, that still to this day resonate in both my music and film work.

The first; Be true to the intent of the story, or composition. Meaning there is an exact code, map, and blueprint that the writer (or composer) has created for us to channel as we manifest it in either a cinematic story telling process or sonically in a piece of music. By being true to the intent of the writer we proliferate its message, in its purest honest form.

The second lesson; there is a perfect tempo for every story or piece of music. Finding that tempo (or groove) is key to creating timeless art.

If push came to shove and you were left with the possibility of working in either only film or music, which would it be? 

I wouldn’t survive without making music.

Music is the greatest healer (other than love, and laughter).

What was your inspiration behind your debut film My X-Girlfriend’s Wedding? What made you choose to make this film as your debut?

It’s a true story. I lived it, which made it relatively effortless to write, and because it was personal it organically made for a perfect choice as a debut film.

You have accomplished so much in your long running and brilliant career. What would you say you are most personally proud for when looking back on your years in film and music?

My most recent feature 9/11 is certainly the film I am most proud of having had the privilege to make. In music, my collaboration with Billy Gibbons on his first solo record Perfectamundo stands out, and a solo record I self produced called “A Moment In Time” is a project I still enjoy sharing. But my proudest accomplishment is the beautiful family I have.

Would would you say is your most proud non-artistic accomplishment? 

There is no such thing as non-artistic accomplishment. Lol!

There are those moments when I connect someone to another person, and when great things come of that, there is a deep sense of being. Karma etc.

I know my true purpose on this planet is to give.

I understand you spent some time as a stand up comedian. How was this experience, and how has it helped you in your career as a filmmaker, producer, and musician?

Stand up comedy was a blast, especially when I bombed. It taught me to develop and define a voice, a point of view, and an illusive layer of self confidence you can only tap into standing by yourself, on a bare stage, talking to and interacting with an anonymous audience. Stand up comedy is the single most challenging art form to tame. Stand up made me a better listener, because you have to find those quiet short rests in order to have the punch line work. It taught me to read, feel and sense an audience.

Can you tell us a bit about the Martin Guigui All Star Band? Who is the band comprised of, and how did it come to form?

For many years The Martin Guigui Band was based out of Vermont and performed throughout the northeast. Mostly in the 80’s and 90’s. When I moved to LA in 97′ the all-star band became an extension of that musical entity, only west coast version. Over the years it has given me an opportunity to play with some of the best musicians in the world, which I am always grateful for.

One of your latest film The Bronx Bull is another telling of the story of the great Jake LaMotta. Tell us, what are some of the unique characteristics of your film as compared to other films previously released?

The Bronx Bull was a wild and challenging experience in the sense that it touched upon subject matter that had been previously covered brilliantly in a highly stylized and artistic piece. So there was always an air of intensity on the set which translated to an elevated and heightened collaborative creative journey for everyone, whether you were playing a lead, or the office P.A. – and the end result turned out to be an honest emotional portrayal and psychological character study of an iconic boxer – but mostly to me it’s a New York story of the son of an Italian immigrant. In spite of the challenges in making, finishing, and distributing the film, it has been well received, and I’m happy it made it out there, as the producers, Joe Allegro and his Dad fulfilled a promise to Jake LaMotta to set the record straight.

The Bronx Bull is yet another biopic or documentary on a fascinating person in history that you can add to your catalog, and I hear there is even more to come. Tell us, who are some other figures you would like to profile either in documentary fashion or as a biopic?

Jesus Christ; because of his bizarre impact on this particular moment in history.

Groucho Marx; there’s so much we don’t know.

JFK Jr; because he was the future that never happened.

My Dad; a unique original inspiring story, but mostly because it’s my duty as a son.

What else can we expect to see or hear from Martin Guigui in the near future?

I’m just completing a book called The Rythem of The Planet, which contains nuggets of wisdom regarding my point of view on how this funny place called Earth works. I’m also in the middle of writing another book called Between You And Me about my experiences in show biz thus far.

And there’s always a movie to make and a song to play…

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My son’s face.

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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