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FUTURES | "Idiot with a Tripod" Filmmaker Jamie Stuart

Photo of Bryce J. Renninger By Bryce J. Renninger | feelingsoblahg.blogspot.com January 7, 2011 at 4:55AM

Jamie Stuart has been making short films for 15 years, but New York's 2010 holiday blizzard made him a star overnight.
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Jamie Stuart has been making short films for 15 years, but New York's 2010 holiday blizzard made him a star overnight.

Stuart spent most of December 26 shooting and editing snowy footage of his Astoria, Queens neighborhood, then posted the video in the small hours of the morning. By the next day, "Idiot with a Tripod," his tribute to Dziga Vertov’s classic 1929 film "Man With A Movie Camera," had Roger Ebert clamoring for it to receive an Oscar nomination. In his recommendation to the Academy, Ebert noted, “You can tell from the cinematography he knew exactly what he was doing and how to do it. He held the Vertov film in memory… Any professional will tell you the talent exhibited here is extraordinary.”

It's no longer unusual for the internet to change lives in an instant. When a pair of brothers from Brooklyn remixed Antoine Dodson’s animated testimony to a television reporter, proceeds from the iTunes sales of the resulting song helped Dodson move out of the projects. Just this week, a video of Ted Williams -- an amazing voice talent who was homeless and begging for change in Columbus, Ohio -- led to job offers that included announcing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

What is unusual about Stuart is the the buzz behind his viral video focuses on the artist rather than its subject. Even in our hypermediated environment, his film managed to make the everyday seem exotic.

Stuart may be hailed as a discovery, but he's been hiding in plain sight. In addition to being the in-house filmmaker for Filmmaker Magazine’s online content, he's created several videos for the New York Film Festival and provides original video content for Focus Features.

“The idea is to somehow lend fiction storytelling to press events," he said. "In so doing, I could lend narratives to what are essentially non-narrative situations.” At a press junket for “Junebug,” for example, Stuart turned the camera on Amy Adams, making her the interviewer. "Most of my work has been independent film about independent film," Stuart added.

For now, he's garnered interest in what he might want to do in making a film of his own. “As this happened, I was developing a feature-length script [an urban noir period piece]. This blew me out of the water… I’ll have a better idea of where all the projects I want to do are going in a bit. For now, I’ll be able to at least earn some money with my new connections."

Adds Stuart, "I’m not the most social person in the world. Going to film festivals and schmoozing isn’t my thing. And this way, more people see my films in one day than do in a whole festival run.”

As the snow melts and the video’s viral nature wears off, one can only hope Stuart’s unique eye behind the camera will soon return.

To see more of Jamie's films, visit his website at www.mutinycompany.com.

This article is related to: Interviews, Futures