BOXOFFICE caught up with Charlie Kaufman to discuss his complex directorial debut, Synecdoche, New York.

Being Charlie Kaufman

on October 24, 2008 by Marco Cerritos

Eccentric writer Charlie Kaufman has been responsible for some of the most unique and mind-bending screenplays of the last few years. Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind are only some of his credits and yet they’re enough to put him in very prestigious company among screenwriters.

For his new project, Kaufman decided to take the reigns completely and make his directorial debut with Synecdoche, New York a film as weird as its title (it’s pronounced “sih-NECK-doh-key"). To hear him say it, the film isn’t supposed to make sense in a traditional way. It’s meaning depends on what each and every viewer takes away from it. Fans of Kaufman's work know that nothing is ever straight forward in Kaufman-land so why should this project be any different, right?

The simple outline of Synecdoche, New York centers on a burned out theatre director (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who is so insecure and disappointed with himself that he builds and eventually retreats into his own personal reconstruction of New York City. He literally builds a city within a city (courtesy of an abandoned hangar and a host of improv actors). Things only get more bizarre as the film progresses until there is no comprehension of what is really going on.

Kaufman resists labeling Synecdoche as a horror film, which is a title that it has carried with it since its earliest stages of conception. He see it as something much more complex.

"It's not a horror movie in the sense that people are going expect. I don't want to mislead people into thinking that it is. It doesn't have those genre conventions. It's not built for chills or thrills or anything. It's a meditation on life, you know, and the human mind, maybe, and art."

B OXOFFICE recently had a chance to catch up with Kaufman in San Francisco during his promotional tour for the film. CLICK HERE to listen to the entire interview.

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