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SXSW ’11 | 24 Filmmakers In Their Own Words

SXSW '11 | 24 Filmmakers In Their Own Words

Soon after SXSW unveiled its 2011 lineup, indieWIRE invited directors with films in the Narrative, Documentary and Emerging Visions sections to submit responses in their own words about their films. This year, a total of 24 filmmakers took part. Below find links to their interviews.

Narrative Competition

Chris Eyre, “A Year in Mooring”
“I became a filmmaker when I started taking pictures as a teenager. I photographed everything—people, animals and many landscapes. I didn’t know why, but as a Native-American adoptee, I first started looking at all the historical photos of my own tribe in high school and tried to figure out who all these distant relatives might be.”

Aimee Lagos, “96 Minutes”
“My journey towards filmmaking began in theatre. I got interested in directing theatre at a very young age and began studying it seriously when I was 16, but it was really my experiences outside of the entertainment world that sparked my desire to direct film.”

K. Lorrel Manning, “Happy New Year”
“It was very important for me and Soopum Sohn, my cinematographer, to not get in the way of the action. We like to create an environment in which the actors feel totally free and safe to follow their instincts and “play”. That’s not always easy to achieve in film as it is in theatre.”

Matt D’Elia, “American Animal”
“Next, I’ve got a neo-Western/thriller that I’ve written and am set to direct. It’s a crime film set in Texas circa the Vietnam War, a particularly violent time in the state’s history. But it’s contained. It’s not some huge, sprawling action film. It’s basically “American Animal” with guns and cowboy hats and blood. A bit of blood, too.”

Annie J. Howell and Lisa Robinson, “Small, Beautifully Moving Parts”
“We are firmly micro-budget, so we wrote the script as a road movie (a form we love), knowing where we could utilize resources we already had. (Google Maps was usually open while writing, calculating distances!).”

Terry McMahon, “Charlie Casanova”
“As news spread we were going to shoot twenty-three pages of script on day one, the crew accurately asserted that not only was their director a madman, he was worse, he was an imbecile. We shot the film in eleven days. Pickups or re-shoots were never going to be an option.”

Robbie Pickering, “Natural Selection”
“I always wanted to do a film about my mother, who is a fairly religious housewife in Jersey Village, Texas. I’ve rarely seen a person like her portrayed onscreen in anything besides a totally satirical light, and I wanted to do her character justice.”

Janet Grillo, “Fly Away”
“We had a remarkably good time shooting “Fly Away.” Despite that our characters were in a state of wrenching despair, we shot on a shoestring, and covered 90 pages in 14 days! The crew was just amazing. Pavlina cultivates a group of people with whom she regularly works, so it’s a cohesive team that goes together from project to project. I call it “Pav’s Pod.””

Documentary Competition

Sally Rowe, “A Matter of Taste”
“Many aspects of making this documentary were challenging – trying to convey taste through a visual medium; trying to get someone who is highly creative to discuss his process; dealing with the pure volume of footage from a ten year shoot with different cameras and formats.”

Don Argott and Demian Fenton, “Last Days Here”
“In terms of being lured into filmmaking – I saw a few docs that changed my perspective on the medium: “Harlan County USA,” “Brother’s Keeper,” and “Sherman’s March.” Seeing these films at the perfect time in my life was completely inspiring. Somehow it made everything seem possible… You could put a small crew together and tell the most powerful story with the most amazing characters in whatever style you chose wished.”

Tristan Patterson, “Dragonslayer”
“I had no job skills and the only thing I knew how to do was watch movies, so after college I wrangled an interview with Scott Macaulay. He’d produced “Gummo,” which I’d seen and liked a lot. I accidentally stepped on his girlfriend’s dog during the interview. He asked me what movies I liked and I told him. He hired me and it changed my life.”

Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein, “Fightville”
“We approached the subject armed with literature. Every fight is a story and the sweet science—boxing—has long been a literary staple. Jack London used to spar with his wife in his garden. Hemingway bragged of his fighting skills. Mailer wrote as much about boxing as he did about culture.”

Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega, “Better This World”
“We read this headline in the New York Times a couple of years ago called “Activist Unmasks Himself as Federal Informant…” and it sounded like a great story. It was also a merging of themes I’d dealt with in previous films: informants and activism.”

Ian Cheney, “The City Dark”
“I started with a simple question: “why do we need the stars?” And clearly the first people to talk to were astronomers. And though they wove together an impressive array of astronomy-based answers for why we should be able to see a clear night sky – to detect earth-killing asteroids, say, or to discover what the universe is actually made of – many of them pushed me towards thinking outside the observatory, in two main ways.”

Heather Courtney, “Where Soldiers Come From”
“A little over four years ago, I returned to the shores of Lake Superior, on the northern tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, to explore the idea of making a film about the place I come from. Frustrated with how small-town America was often portrayed in the mainstream media, I wanted to tell a story about my rural hometown that countered those stereotypes.”

Vikram Gandhi, “Kumare”
“I starting growing my hair and beard out, and tried talking in a Indian-ish accent. After our first trials, I realized not only that I was capable of convincing people of my character’s authenticity, but also that the footage I was getting was far more compelling than any interview I had thus far captured.”

Emerging Visions

Dave Boyle, “Surrogate Valentine”
“Overall, I tried to take a no-frills approach to everything and just let the story tell itself. Although it’s by far the lowest budget I’ve ever worked with, it never felt like I was lacking anything I needed.”

Alison Bagnall, “The Dish and the Spoon”
“I was interested to explore how crazy people can get after a betrayal. Most movies focus on the affair itself, but fewer on the aftermath, and the stages of emotions that people go through. I thought that it could be funny and compelling to watch Greta playing a woman in this position.”

Peter Himmelstein, “The Key Man”
“The idea was to not only make a period film, but to make a movie that was literally made at that time. We used to joke about how it could be released as an undiscovered film. There were a whole range of early to mid seventies films that inspired the look of the film and the styling. Vincent looks like Jack Nicholson in “The Passenger,” for example. The general tone aspired to be like “All the President’s Men” or “The Parallax View.” This was the idea anyway.”

Jarred Alterman, “Convento”
“Portugal has such a beautiful landscape, with rolling hills and narrow rivers. I wanted to produce the film in the summer to take advantage of the sunlight and avoid rain. But, this comes with a price. Portugal can be brutally hot in the summer.”

R. Alverson, “New Jerusalem”
““New Jerusalem” was born of a desire to explore the blindness of faith (in what are essentially supernatural constructions), to analyze what utility it has in our lives and minds, what purpose in the 21st century, in a time when access to a mapped and certain world is readily available, in some form, to most people in this country.”

Todd Rohal, “The Catechism Cataclysm”
“I worked at a theology school during my summer breaks in college and met a number of priests who were struggling with whether or not they truly belonged in the priesthood. They were incredibly funny guys. Some of them stayed, some left to other careers and some got married. Not only were they struggling with huge questions of faith, but questions about leaving the path of what they had always felt was their life’s calling. That was something I could relate to and it felt rather universal.”

Andrew Haigh, “Weekend”
“I really wanted to make a different kind of gay themed film. I didn’t want to tell just another story of coming out or the effects of violent prejudice. While these stories have their place I feel there is more to say about the modern gay experience than that. So I suppose my starting point was to tell a simple and authentic love story that also explored the more subtle issues that can affect gay people in society.”

Dustin Guy Defa, “Bad Fever”
“I tried to create an intimate experience for everyone involved on the film. Even though I was the director, I allowed a lot of breathing room. I knew that if I surrounded myself with the right people, I could trust them to follow their own ideas and create the film with me.”

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