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Published:December 12th, 2006 06:25 EST
40 Shades of Blue

40 Shades of Blue

By Jessica Baird

Forty Shades of Blue" is a new film that critics have called haunting and unforgettable. Directed and written by Ira Sachs, a native Memphian, the film took home the prestigious Grand Jury Prize at this year`s Sundance Film Festival.

Laura, the main character in the film played by Dina Korzun, is a Russian woman living in Memphis with rock legend Alan, played by Rip Torn. After Laura has an affair with Alan`s son Michael, played by Darren Burrows, she is taken on more of a personal journey than she initially bargained for.

Sachs began developing "Forty Shades of Blue" nearly seven years ago.

"I came up with the idea in 1998 and by `99 I had finished the script," Sachs said. "Financing the film took the longest."

Although it was years in the making, Sachs said that by the time shooting began, he had a clearer vision of the film he wanted to make.

Sachs said that the subject matter in "Forty Shades" is foreign to most moviegoers, and that is why the film took several years to find the support it needed to get off the ground.

"It`s a serious drama, an art film, that deals with matters of the heart," Sachs said.

The upside of finding funding and support is that Sachs was surrounded by a supportive cast that wanted to make the film as good as possible. The film was shot entirely in Memphis, which Sachs described as a fantastic experience.

"We had so much support in Memphis, that we shot in the Peabody Hotel for four days for the cost of a cup of coffee in New York City," Sachs said.

The director`s appreciation for Memphis grew over the course of making the film.

"I feel like I know the city inside and out now," Sachs said. "I`m shooting my next film outside of Memphis and I`m dreading it."

Working with the cast of "Forty Shades" was another unforgettable experience for Sachs. Torn is a legend in his own right, having worked in films since the 1950s. Sachs said Torn is a complex character in everyday life, and that he brought so much of that to the character of Alan.

"Rip is very much filled with contradictions, he is extremely unique in the way that he approaches life," Sachs said.

Sachs said that he and Torn had large goals for the film and their artistic visions often butted heads. However, these conflicts still benefited the film greatly.

"Our arguing actually made the film stronger in the end," Sachs said.

There are several ways to make a film stronger, Sachs said. For a student studying film directing and screenwriting, Sachs offered up some advice.

"My biggest advice is to watch movies, and take the time to educate yourself on film," Sachs said.

Although Sachs never attended film school, he taught himself the art of filmmaking by going to the theater anywhere from 5 to 10 times a week.

"It`s exciting to view different sorts of films," Sachs said, "The rewarding thing is that it gives you chops to make your own movies."

Educating yourself is also vital when dealing with professional people in the film industry. Sachs said that you have to be able to walk in a room and know your movies and your history. One must also learn that making a film is all about disappointment and challenges, Sachs said.

"During filming, I would allow myself two hours of grief, and then just say `next,`" he said. "You`ve got to be able to move on."