Interview with director Cody Lee Brown

  • Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking is your way of telling stories?

Film is where everything collides. I’ve been a musician my whole life, a hobbyist photographer and dabbler of all sorts of things. All of which can be incorporated into film. Exploring all of these things in motion is a thrill.

  • Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

I did not go to a film institute, and I still hope to one day find whatever I end up defining as success.

  • Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

Both. You have to get “in” to find collaborators and then you have to keep one-upping yourself. So you just get done with a project and you’ve never worked harder. Now it’s time to work twice as hard as that on the next one.

  • What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?

Sometimes things just don’t work the way you want them to. You have to pivot. I think it’s been an evolving effect on my projects. Having more than one solution to a problem at the ready, or the willingness to turn away from something you thought was great for the sake of the big picture.

  • What were the production realities from casting through editing that you had to accommodate? How did you navigate those compromises or surprises and still end up with a cohesive film?

The biggest challenge was time day of. We shot in February in Minnesota so theres less than 8 hours of daylight, and the sun was moving across the scene shifting our lighting as the day went along. I had quite a few setups laid out; exteriors, OTS, CUs, 2 shots, inserts and some alts. The location is also a really small space, so we were chasing time and light while trying to make sure we were shooting what would all add up to an interesting, cohesive film.

  • What was the hardest artistic choice you made in the making of a film, at any stage in production?

Cutting shots I thought were going to be really cool, or add a little extra something to the scene or the characters for time. But thats every set ever.

  • You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?

On Pit Stop the main 3, Mim Epstein, Ian Simpson (writer/producers) and I all work together in advertising. We had collaborated before many times. The DP and I have collaborated a lot as well, on commercials and music videos. I’m repped by his production company for commercial work. Pretty much everyone on this was someone I had worked with before or was a friend of a someone Id worked with previously. I’d even edited commercials that featured Molly, the lead actress.

  • What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?

Depends on the film! If someone is paying you or covering the budget because of it’s placement and the potential audience then absolutely it is the filmmakers responsibility to worry about the audience. If you are making something for yourself or with your friends to explore and make art than you definitely should focus on exploring your creativity and not worry about what people are going to think. Theres a very blurry line between all of this as well.

  • What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?

This is my first short on a festival run so I don’t know yet! Haha. I have mostly directed music videos and commercials up to this point. I am hoping to learn how to get the most out of festivals with this experience.

  • Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?

I think a filmmaker should be inspired and excited to create. The rest of this will fall into place.