Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of interviews, conducted via email, with directors whose films are screening at the 2009 SXSW Film Festival.
Director: Bill & Turner Ross
An inquiring look at everyday life in middle America, the film explores the congruities of daily life in an American town Sidney, Ohio. [Courtesy of SXSW]
“45365” will screen in the Documentary Feature Competition.
Please introduce yourself…
This is Turner Ross. My brother Bill and I filmed 45365.
What were the circumstances that lead you to become a filmmaker?
For me, it was really a fluke. My interest has always been more in painting and static visual art. Bill and a number of our friends were film students and it was usually my lot to assist them with set design and posters and bit part acting. When their films went to festivals, I attended. That’s how I got my first film job. I walked out of a screening of “Long Gone” and shared a cigarette with the director, David Eberhardt. He ended up crashing at our place for a couple weeks and said thank you by landing me a PA job. Bill, on the other hand, has always had a camera ready.
How or what prompted the idea for your film and how did it evolve?
There came a time a couple years ago when Bill and I realized that we’d been devoting all of our energies to entertainment paychecks instead of our own projects. We decided that our first feature effort should be focused on what we felt most strongly about – what we knew most intimately. We went to our hometown and collected the experiences that had left such a profound emotional impact on us coming up. “45365” is a very personal film for us.
Please elaborate a bit on your approach to making your film.
Our idea was to veer away from the overproduced, overly descriptive approach that more commercial films have adapted to and instead pursue a patient and non-judgmental method of capturing stories and images that allows the subjects to speak for themselves. It requires a bit more of the audience, but seems to us more honest.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in developing the project?
Funding. We were broke when it started and we’re broke now. It’s hard to convince patrons that you’re going to use their money wisely when all you have is confidence as a calling card.
How do you define success as a filmmaker, and what are your personal goals as a filmmaker?
Success would be the ability to continue making our own films. We’ve known from the beginning that this wasn’t going to be a financially lucrative pursuit. Success and worth are rooted more in the sincerity with which we can tell our stories.
What are your future projects?
There’s no lack of ideas, just funding. We’ve got a project swimming around, but it’s still a bit early to press go. The idea is to continue exploring themes of the proletariat, focusing on people in place and allowing them to tell their stories.