Inside 'Cloud Atlas' directors' Chicago workshop

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'Cloud Atlas' directors

"Cloud Atlas" directors Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, and Andy Wachowski, at Kinowerks on Chicago's North side. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune / October 24, 2012)

Tykwer sits up in his chair: “You didn't say what the triple feature was.”

Lana: “Oh, ‘Harold and Maude,' ‘The King of Hearts' and ‘The In-Laws.' And we would go to a movie, then eat a meal, then go to a movie, then eat dinner. This was all in one day.”

Andy: “After each movie, our parents would ask what we thought and tell us what they thought, and it was a dialogue. As a kid, you might not understand something, but you were intrigued. They would show us that experiencing art was about abandoning your own perspective and yourself, and one way of understanding is by reaching out to people and having a dialogue about a movie. Which sounds radical now, I suppose.”

Lana: “But any work of art that doesn't inspire that dinner conversation is not much of a work of art.”

Andy: “Otherwise there's really no value to the work.”

By now they look irritated and resigned again. They cycle back to Chicago. Andy says: “Someone asked if we could reincarnate, who we'd be? My first answer was Studs Terkel, who has been a huge influence on us, especially the way he drew the connections between people.” Lana says: “The point is, Chicago is influential to us. We think of ourselves as Chicago artists. We are Chicago artists. Most of our films are set here.”

But not shot here.

“There are no sound stages,” Lana replies, “not big enough ones anyway. Write that down.”

What about Kinowerks? What about expanding it?

“Kinowerks,” Andy says, pausing, “Kinowerks is as big as we can imagine this place ever becoming.”

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