Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

FUTURES | "Get Low" Director Aaron Schneider

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire July 23, 2010 at 9:27AM

Directors often wield interesting yarns when describing how they landed in the film business. First time feature director Aaron Schneider’s tale is no exception.
0

Directors often wield interesting yarns when describing how they landed in the film business. First time feature director Aaron Schneider’s tale is no exception.

“I was two years into an engineering degree at Iowa State University and was really dissatisfied,” Schneider said this week at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York, while in town to promote his first feature film, “Get Low.” “My family and I took off for a vacation to Florida and Billy Crystal just happened to be there. My mom knew I was into special effects at the time, so my mom said ‘why don’t you just go ask Billy how to get into special effects?’"

Schneider did, and got the response he needed to jump-start his new career. Crystal told him to go to film school.

“His instinct was that I didn’t know anything about the film business and that I might find something where my talents lie by going to school,” Schneider said. “So sure enough I applied to three, got into the University of Southern California, and left my friends and family behind in the Midwest.”

This was back in the late ‘80s. Since first meeting the City Slicker, Schneider has worked tirelessly as a cinematographer on such films as “Kiss the Girls” and “Simon Birch.” He also served as the second unit director of photography in 1997 for James Cameron’s little film that could, “Titanic.”

Though Schneider fell into cinematography following his time at USC, directing was always on the horizon.

“I’d always loved all the different aspects of filmmaking,” he said. “Somewhere around ‘97 it kind of surged up in me. It wasn’t a long-term plan thing, I just suddenly realized we’re all storytellers, it’s just my toolbox was a camera, light and lens at the time. A director’s toolbox is everything. I thought it’d be kind of fun to tell a story with all the tools. So I put my entire life savings into a short film that I wrote.”

That short, “Two Soldiers,” garnered Schneider the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 2004. With his name now anointed with ‘Academy Award Winner’ Schneider set out on directing his first feature film. Happily, he didn’t have to look far – one landed in his lap.

Producer Dean Zanuck (left), Aaron Schneider and Michael Barker, co-president of Sony Pictures Classics, at a "Get Low" event at New York's Soho Grand Hotel hosted by the Cinema Society & Sony Alpha Nex 5. [Photo credit: Clint Spaulding/Patrick McMullan Co.]

Producer Dean Zanuck (“Road to Perdition”) had seen Schneider’s short, and thought he was the perfect fit to direct “Get Low,” a Tennessee set story of an elderly hermit who enlists the help of a funeral director to throw a party for his own impending funeral. Zanuck had already been in talks with Robert Duvall who wished to star, so Schneider obviously jumped at the opportunity to direct the acting legend. Once on board, Schneider had no trouble wrangling together Sissy Spacek and Bill Murray to round out the cast, due to Duvall’s commitment.

No doubt bolstered by the solid cast, Schneider’s first feature premiered in Toronto, and has since gone on to play at Sundance, South by Southwest and Tribeca. All the festival hop skipping culminated this week at a star-studded event hosted by the Cinema Society in New York to celebrate the film’s opening next Friday. Spacek, Duvall and Schneider were in attendance for the soirée, which attracted a crop of New York’s finest that included Doug Liman, John Cameron Mitchell, Calvin Klein, Lucy Punch and photographer Nigel Barker.

For now, Schneider is still in the midst of promoting “Get Low”’s impending release. Asked if he foresees a career as a cinematographer or director, Schneider offered: “I do think directing is my future. I enjoy it so much, and it’s not like you have to let go of shooting. You’re still working side by side with a cinematographer. Having come up as a cinematographer I’m looking forward to working with some of the cinematographers I’ve always looked up to, and learning from them. Hopefully it’s a long journey with a lot more learning.”

This article is related to: Futures, Get Low






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More