For anyone who’s ever longed for a simpler life in the wilderness, Andrew Renzi’s astute documentary “Fishtail” should make for the perfect viewing. The director sheds new light on life in the American West that many have come to glorify, while capturing the very beauty that makes such glorification justifiable — with only an impressive four days’ worth of footage.
Tell us about yourself. My name is Andrew Renzi, I’m a filmmaker that lives in New York City that recently made a documentary called “Fishtail.” The film observes Tylee Abbott, an art dealer who specializes in Classic Western American Art, while he works on his Montana ranch during calving season, the month when the cows give birth.
What was your biggest challenge in completing this project? We shot the entire documentary in four days on 16mm film, so not only were we constantly running out of time, but we were also running out of film.
What do you have in the works? I’m also in post production on a narrative feature that I directed called, Franny, starring Richard Gere, Dakota Fanning, Theo James, and Clarke Peters. It’s about an aging addict trying to recreate the life he once by infusing himself into the lives of a young couple.. part “Scent of a Woman,” part “Leaving Las Vegas,” part “Cable Guy.”
Did you crowdfund? If so, via which platform? And if not, why? No, our budget was low enough that we were able to secure the funds without reaching out widely.
What camera did you shoot on? We shot the documentary on film, using the Arri-Flex 416 Super 16mm Camera. We used Kodak 200T 16mm film.
Did you go to film school? If so, which one? I didn’t go to film school, I went to Brown University for writing and Literary Arts.
What films have inspired you? The documentaries of Frederick Wiseman and Albert Maysles were an inspiration for this documentary, as well as the visual styles of the narrative features, Once “Upon a Time in the West,” “Jeremiah Johnson,” and “Days of Heaven.” More generally, I am inspired by the grand gesture hollywood character studies of the ’80s and ’90s like “Scent of a Woman” and “Rain Man,” and I also really love colorful and flamboyant Italian films like “Divorce Italian Style,” “The Leopard,” “The Conformist,” or “Blood and Black Lace.”
Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about
their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and
what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up
to the 2014 festival. Go HERE to read all the entries.