- Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking is your way of telling stories?
Not really but there was a time when I realized that I was a controlling ‘know all’ and there’s no controlling ‘know all’ like a film director.
- Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?
The clue here is successful and how you interpret success. But lets just say for now that success is being able to make films and supprt yourself doing that. Given how monocultural filmaking has been in the past and still is to a great extent that’s not as low a bar as it sounds. I think film schools don’t necessarily make you a better filmaker but what they can do and should do is actively promote diversity and invite a much wider group of people into the profession.
- 3. Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?
There’s a naivity to starting out that is invaluable. It’s like anything is possible and like any journey if you knew how hard it was going to be you wouldn’t start. But nothing, nothing beats momentum. If you look at those filmmakers that seem to be doing well the one thing they all tend to have in common is that they’re constantly have multiple projects on the go. Film development and production is precarious and non linear. Timeline’s are constantly changing and setbacks are inevitable. The good ones amongst know this and they’re able to switch gears when the hit a road bump and move to another project and slowly they’re able to edge one of them over the line. Sadly, film production is a numbers game.
- What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?
I’ve worked on so many sets coming up through the years where the atmosphere was terrible the Director was arrogant and dismissive or the First or the DP just yelled at people all the time and it’s horrible. Crews are professional and they get the job done and they get it done well no matter what the circumstances but they’re human beings. The postive energy on a film set where the communication is good and where there’s respect and empowerment, man that’s a joy to be a part of and a thing of beauty. Never be that Director or that First or that DP.
- 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 thing that both concerned me and surprised me the most was casting. I’m old (school) and used to always doing in person casting. We just didn’t have the budget or the where -with-all to do that on this film and I was so so anxious about casting off self -ilmed tapes and showreels. Especially as online casting calls can attracct litterally hundreds of submissions. ( I was living in LA at the time and eveery other persons an actor. But guess what? We were blessed with cast we had. Truly. And I’m so grateful to them for the good natured, collaborative enthusiasm and talent they brought with them.
- What was the hardest artistic choice you made in the making of a film, at any stage in production?
Performance over style. Suspect’s a dialgoue heavy piece and that dialogue needed time, effort and attention. Another day and I would have had them both. How many times has that been said? Ha ha
- You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?
People will want to work with you for two reasons either because you’re so good that it would be nuts not to or because they enjoy working with you becasue you’re an enjoyable person to work with. If you can even get even remotely close to being the first and always try to be the secoond you’ll never be short of offers. This goes for us all.
- What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?
If no one’s interested in your stories or how you tell them, how much of a story teller are you?
- What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?
I think there’s a massive role for film festivals and I find it strange that for years people have been predicting their demise only to see that there are more festivals now than ever before. The internet’s great and everything (maybe ) but it doesn’t arbitrate between good and bad, useful or useless or anything it just is this massive lump of stuff. Film festivals offer us the filmakers (and by that I mean all the people involved in making a film) the chance to be chosen and to be validated – who doesn’t want that? They’re vital if you ever want to get anywhere with your work . For audiences – a great deal of whom are other filmakers – it offers a curated experience. “Out of all this stuff we found something worth your time and attention, something you might find interesting, inspiring and informative.”
- Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?