Audiovisual Cultures 119 – Maysville

Listen and view the show notes and full automated transcript below!

Show Notes

Paula Blair speaks to writer and director Leslie Goyette and producer Michele Englehart about their film Maysville (2021). In our conversation you’ll learn about their 3-year journey from script to finished film, their experience with crowdfunding and the kindness of communities, and the sheer tenacity it takes to achieve a goal you really believe in. This is an enjoyable and illuminating conversation which I hope you’ll get something out of and share.

Music: commonGround by airtone (c) copyright 2018 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license.

Edited by Paula Blair with Audacity.

Recorded with Zoom on 4 May 2022. Access Behind the Scenes recordings on Patreon.

Maysville website:

Leslie and Paula connected via

Automated Transcript

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though you’re very welcome to you RT of facial cultures the podcast that explores different areas of film the arts and media I’m Paul up there and in this episode I talk to the writer and director let’s see cognacs and producer Michelle Engelhard’s abate their film maze filled which is available on various streaming sites as well as on DVD and Blu ray and the U. S. you’ll find useful links in the show notes and everything else you’ll need audio visual cultures dot com a big thank you to our patrons at Petri on dot com forward slash AP cultures his generosity is funding our websites and thanks as well to you heather pony read he replied on Instagram and I posted about yes more computer bows as it seems we have the same laptop and heather says I recently discovered your podcast and it’s great I’m really glad you’re enjoying it has their hands thank you and everyone else for investing in for engaging with us wherever you do that so in today’s discussion we skirted around Paul details for the film may you spell but I think that it’s fine for me to say that it is a tragic family ands coming of age periods drama set in depression era of the ship if you’re not aware of it it’s a real might necessary it in the United States Leslie and Michelle take history quite a lot of the production details including importantly their experience with crowdfunding and simply asking for things that you told people what they needed and they made a film that looks a lot more expensive than a speaker because of the kindness of the community stay were working with and I think that’s really pertinent for me because I was living in Newcastle upon Tyne has taught me shy bairns get nights you know if you don’t ask you don’t get let’s see Michelle really show you why it’s important to just go for it to just tell people like this is what we needs today that S. what do you think what can you do with a mention some difficult topics around death poverty and abusive behavior but there’s also a lot of joy and hope the restore some faith in humanity and both the story of may spell on the Siri if making maze spell they may face so it really hope you enjoy this one it was it was just a really great conversation and it was a real joy to meet lastly and Michelle as well they’re they’re welcome back anytime so hope you get a lottery if it nine I know I certainly did let’s see go yes and Michelle Banco hearts thank you so much for joining me on audio visual cultures we’re going to discuss your independent film maze spell that’s just so exciting but this first of all if it’s okay could I ask each of you C. NG sure selves to bet on C. six billion the roles each if you had in the film if we start with Leslie is out all right now I’m amazed to Michelle my name’s Leslie yeah I was the writer and one of the producers and the director for the town I am amazing partner Michelle yes my name is Michelle it’ll hurt I am %HESITATION producer and maze spell Celeste Lee and I teamed up to get the film made I know that getting the film made a toll was a huge achievement for both fifty and so we’ll try and learn a bit of bite that at any moment spent where did the story come from and why did you decide to tell it on film will talk but the story itself in a bad spot %HESITATION I just wondered what were the origins of the story first of all well the origins of the story it’s a coming of age story set in the nineteen twenties and that part of the United States called Appalachia Appalachia is a remote part of the United States it’s a very mountainous area it’s part of where I grew up so that part of the country it’s that poverty stricken area and I kind of wanted to tell a story about things that I had seen and things that I had witnessed and growing up in that area but I also want to take it back in time a little bit some of the characters are kinda loosely very loosely based on people that I had interacted with throughout my life heady and Willie that G. main characters early on in the film are are based on my sister and my relationship the closeness that we add the adventures that they have together things like that those are all things that I did as a child with my sister it’s not by any means autobiographical goodness it’s not autobiographical it’s based on you know the area where I grew up with and that’s where it came to me and why is hold on film was it the second part your question in Leslie can answer this better than me but I just want to say is a writer Leslie is a very visual writer when I first read the script I could picture every scene my mind like how it was going to beat it and she’s not a prolific writer is very you know not a lot of information but if the right amount of information for me to visualize really picture how how this would be films which I thought was unusual to do read a lot of scripts I think she’s a visual writer which lends itself to film and Sam and then it’s out what really attracted you to producing it that Michelle was just she wanted to visualize sought for Leslie well it will tell you the back story the city especially night we knew each other do we to have met on the set that are %HESITATION kids had done a commercial for probably eight years ago now while ago and kept in touch via social media Facebook she lives in Portland which is about three hours from where I’m at in Seattle so just you know queen says over social media but one day she came to me and asked if I’d be she had watched a short film that I had put out on social media that my son had been in and she watched it and thought he would be perfect for the role of Willie for this script she wrote I didn’t know she was a writer and she had never previously shown anybody her scripts so she’s kind of like a closet raiders just she sent me the scripts and I started reading it and I’m not sure if you had time to watch the film but the set up of the film is with the boys you know their tweens the first fifteen minutes of the film you watch the set up and I read up to that point in the script and I was just like oh my god this is one of the best scripts I’ve read and I could just my heart I was totally engaged by page ten you know just sucked in and by like sixteen or something I text her I said oh my god is she said oh my god good %HESITATION oh my god dad because I was the first person to read the script and I said oh my god I just called her and I said this is so good this is just so good so that’s how I got selected I didn’t know maybe at that time that was her first script I didn’t know anything you know if she’s made any short films or anything she came up to Seattle we did a table read and then after the table read she said so I don’t know if this can just be a short film if we could do a feature length film but you know what you ladies we can get it done could you help me I’ve never done so before so I don’t know I I tell people I don’t usually believe in fate but there was I feel like there’s an element here why this all came together why I said yes I thought it was just crazy I’m more conservative than Leslie and you know don’t usually take risks like this and I just was a great time in my life and we kind of just figured it out together over the last three and half years it’s been kind of a crazy ride we’ve learned a ton a ton and I think we produce something pretty good for you know given what we %HESITATION the resources that we had a play into second let’s see do you want to add anything to Michelle stories there well yeah I think that I I I call myself a closet writer for many years I have so many scripts and short stories and so on and that I write but I’ve always felt that sharing your writing is like letting someone see ill make it you know nobody you just don’t want to do that and because it shows all your flaws it shows you know your inhibitions it shows everything in your writing and people can’t really judge you on your writing style even though I love to write I’ve never really shared by writing with anyone so it was a big step a big step for me to say Hey I’m going to share something with you and it was easier to share it with someone that I didn’t know really well then it was share share with someone who I intimately know or care a lot about because Michelle could have been honest with me does that make sense I’m Michelle had no nothing best and she could have hurt my feelings that thank you I think it’s a something for us right now but her response was authentic and genuine and she was very enthusiastic about the script and made me feel somewhat validated I guess all writers maybe need some kind of validation before they take the next step at least for me at it that’s a really important story to tell I think because there’s probably a lot of people like they’re like you you hear setting on work and they’re too scared to share it with anyone and that’s a really great story of where it can actually work I’d if you take that leap into the abyss so that’s really great for people to hear I hope hope hope you know art is the most important thing to me art most important thing in the world because it it brings joy right whatever form of art there is it brings joy and it sometimes being on her way to share your arch keeps people from sharing it you know and it may really resonate with someone hi tended to did you go from the the ID in the script Sakshi getting it into production because I know that you you went to in the crowd funding rates I’m sure there’s a big story behind that as well I think one of the smart moves we made as we carved out six months to see how much money we could race to see whether we could take on a feature length film funding wise or whether we just might have enough money to do what we feel would be to put forward a short film I think a lot of filmmakers at least one a lot of local indie filmmakers I know they don’t necessarily take that time may kind of wing it and try to do stuff and no money and I do think we did the right thing by taking that time and doing it and it it didn’t just raise the funds it helps spur our marketing right from the very beginning to start building your audience early is that some advice we got from another producer that I think is was well taken so you can the two can go hand in hand we did a big what we thought was a big crowd funding and indie gogo which was quite successful we more than made our goal and that inspired us to think that we had enough to meet your future phone which we actually end up doing we had to do a lot of asking because we didn’t have enough money to make a really good quality feature of the film is set back in the nineteen twenties so that’s another feat that’s quite hard to pull off as an indie filmmaker to make it at that tech looking to the nineteen twenties and more expensive right all the props and Senate locations and all that so in addition to %HESITATION you know raising the money we had to do a lot of asking of Hey can you volunteer to let us use your vintage car yeah we asked the town’s we found two historic towns next to each other for filming you know we had to ask you know their city council if we can use their public spaces they gave it to us for free just about all the locations were given to us for free to use the props antiques and even an old tractors the perfect old tractor we’re looking for the actually look new we found a steam train there’s a local steam train that actually still operates down there and we needed one for the film they gave us the use of that for free yeah I mean it was just almost ridiculous how much was just given to us just because we asked so the combination of raising what we thought was enough money in conjunction with just getting out there and asking people people are excited said make a film this was in two towns that are pretty not remote but there is not a lot going on down there and them and they are historic and I think that a lot of people in those towns that was really cool that it a film set back in the twenties is going to be made in their towns there’s a lot of get up and go a lot of good will down there that we found it we also did at dinner fundraiser down there to raise money that was the initial reason but it actually did a lot more than that it got that good will get the word out in the excitement out a lot of the Ted that people down there became extras in the film they’re really excited about that and some of them brought their own wardrobes and just got really into it even the fire chief the ad at the fire station helped us we didn’t have sixteen hundred dollars to rent a rain machine so he he brought fire track and hooked up the hose and we got one K. we got one shot on this one J. and he just prayed the hose in the air and got the rain to come down on the actors and their work we were so excited we had shot the scene twice already with no rain right well doesn’t work we’ll have our back up right yes so and and it was amazing just to see the community come together to try to make this project because when we were at the dinner we just had a captive audience we ask people were like this is what we need this is what we need this is what we need is what we need and by the time we were done with that dinner we had two people volunteer their farms to be burnt down and we were just kind of you know right away what we need to burn down the barn does anyone ever bark we can burn down yes you well in two years yeah we’re just jokingly asking to %HESITATION thing that we learned in all of this is that at the end of the day people want to help people thank you it’s just a lot of times people don’t want to ask for help the R. model began eighteen it became that power up the ass be authentic in your ask be truthful be honest let them know this is where I’m coming from I don’t have a budget where I can you know give you money the people were just %HESITATION one all and excited to be you know a part of it it’d be part of something creative that’s bigger than yourself I think that I would sign on if somebody asked me you know it anyway it’s it’s exciting to be part of something that so many people are involved in to actually put something on the big screen that could look really good they didn’t know asked they didn’t know we had no stars in the film you know no A. listers that are recognizable and murky but they totally bought into the story and the idea of making a film down there and the fact it was sent back in time I think it was a another big selling point can also tune into six story and I just feel like there’s a whole other side of this film as well it’s going to really beautiful story that can circulate with so I think that to get into more details but the film itself you know as indicated very clearly by the title the location is so important and as you’re saying it’s that community and I it’s great to hear such a positive story right the making of the film because I think the film itself deals is really very difficult and she’s and not so much of a community spirit going on if I’m picking up on that right so I was just wondering if you kids help flashlight a bit more for any listeners especially here in the U. K. you know we’re we’re fed a lot of sculpture from the U. S. but the specific location and after that time that you’re talking about most of us are going to know absolutely nothing about that so if it’s okay could you just help flesh out a bit more forests to depression era I it’s very rural very might necessary yet and then the sorts of issues that you’re dealing with that because you know there’s going to be a lot bubbling up Ryan’s not as well in terms of because I think the suffrage movement but is going on and and there’s a lot of racial problems and then there’s classic she’s while you’ve mentioned so if you’re happy to maybe less EKG just last Saturday but Marcus what’s your story as well you want to tell well if we’re gonna talk about Appalachia I do need to make sure that I preface that these are my people this is where I grew up and I love the end of your where I’m from so by any means I’m the purpose of this is not to shine a negative light on the people of Appalachia but Appalachian in the nineteen twenty eight is very different %HESITATION Appalachian ballad eight we’re up we’re going back in time and we’re looking at a time when I don’t think things were so different so much in Appalachia as they were in other parts of the country women were more of a second class citizen then man even in the early nineteen twenties when men that were just started a little bit more we were dealing with I don’t want to give away too much of the story is there is a very big twist at the end and the big twist at the end actually we’ll explain the actions by a lot of the characters throughout infidelity is one of the most memorable thing that you could have done in that time in Appalachia it’s something that that was our letter you know what I’m saying very much about starlet letter that area it fell yeah like I said it’s under Sir but there’s not a lot of well generations after generations after generations lived there but not a lot of people a lot of families can’t break out of poverty cycle but at the same time they’re also a very strong eight they’re very strong in their faith and their beliefs so trying to explain that without giving like much of a story and it’s a little little bit than a fine line to walk there but it’s a very beautiful part of the country the Appalachian trail a lot of people will hike that it is just the mountains trail %HESITATION on the eastern part of the United States it’s beautiful and the people are wonderful they’re just very set in their ways and sometimes people will justify their actions by what has happened yeah and I hate to use the %HESITATION terms but I four nine if you hear a lot of times people still feel that way and back in that time the nineteen twenties there was not on law enforcement as you see it now right there was one local sheriff for like three or four to L. and that was the case that the story up there we had one share I never hear of many different things like that so I hope that can help an indescribable Billboard it Leslie you know the extension that some of this a lot of it is pulled from her her childhood here in there which Leslie and I are about the same age so grew up in the seventies it’s set back in the nineteen twenties because maybe it’s a little bit more believable so that some of this these things actually can happen they still actually Leslie maybe you could talk to this can happen today that some of the things that happen in the movie like that could never happen Welton Leslie might know about the situations in her childhood where things like that actually did happen yeah I grew up with this and we were court reporter growing up we didn’t have a car I don’t think anyone would ever relate to that you know what I’m saying the seventies eighties and nineties growing up how did you not have a car but we don’t have a car I would have a telephone that sounds great to you and when I was in high school we did not have a telephone we couldn’t afford it and having that you know even though some of the things that you see you know was in the seventies eighties and nineties I took it back to the twenties because I just don’t think that if I told the story of the seventies eighties and nineties well not as we’re not believed that people would not believe that how does a family not have excel how do you not have a land line in your house we didn’t read it I had a single mother with trying to raise three children of our own and it was just their circumstances that we grew up in so we decided I decided to take this story back to the twenties to make some updates you know that I can relate you’re from my child care it would explain things a lot easier that’s really great to hear about that less because I was something I was gonna ask you bite cassette the setting is almost a hundred years on from where we are today I think that actually quite a few of the issues that come up in the film are really Prashant right now all right I think especially with a lot of what we said with their abusive behavior and race relations and gender and equality and everything he can and well into the twenty first century noise so I think it is a very twenty twenty story and a lot of ways as much as as a nineteen twenty sorry so it it’s really great to hear I’m really fascinating what you’re saying is well the plight that decision to go back to the Chinese that makes a lot of sense actually because I grew up more in the eighties and the U. K. and yet we do even for a lot of a CVP considers horror underprivileged but we probably would have had access T. a landline telephone or a cover of some description at even a neighbor’s car or something like that so you know that’s really just fastening contacts here but I thought thank you both for that yeah yeah you just hit the nail on the head you’re really did you’re really something that up very well it’s just interesting you know even when I was telling myself some of the stories from my childhood shows like what at the same time and regionally we were just a few hundred miles from each other she was growing up in Illinois and I was growing up in Kentucky but we grew up in two very different worlds very very different worlds and it’s just fascinating just to see that how to people who are completely different not far from each other but just experienced two drastically different either you mentioned earlier as well that the two boys teddy and waylaid the beast very roughly on you and your sister and then putting it back to the twenties and changing them to police as Scott Disick in to facilitate the storytelling do you think it’s easier for employees or it’s easier for me because there were some parts that I did want to share about my life okay I just felt that it was the right thing to do was to make them boys some of the things that make my sister and I did work very well wait role you know what we would find in the Barnes and Klein you know fifty feet in the rockers I would die now if I saw my kids doing things like that you know we we go frog gigging and you know we would ship times we shot guns and in the field not a lot of things that you see Freddy and really doing there definitely more masculine things but those are the things that we had it that’s what we had to play with when you’re married remember from people so that’s just what we had to delete things that were around that’s what we have to play with and that’s what we yet there is a lot of times when I was very emotional on set you know I just think that it it would have been two little girls I would’ve been a total basket okay I’m still close with my sister and I love her so much but I think having a boy it’s the kind of things a little are a little bit more controllable yeah that makes a lot of census three users here I mean we talked earlier as well right just hi positives it production experience was and it does look like he hello maybe we can consider a lot of the actors as terribly famous or anything like that they’re actually really high caliber it and the performances set you’ve got out of them and she’s got really high production values and hi the film has been found the lighting music and and all of these elements that make it looks very polished and they make it look a lot more expensive than I probably actually will which is one of the men thank you all right coming from you that really means a lot someone has so much education and someone who has spent so much time studying found that’s really sweet of you to say that means that means a lot but we you know we were limited with our actors we were limited with what we had to change from what we have to work with but I do agree with you I do think that we got some really really genuine performances and %HESITATION I think that it came through and they were more than just characters they really worked really hard to get to where they needed to be instrumental scenes for heart things were very hard but I think they roast beef thank you all we wanted to make a family I talked to Michelle about this I did not want to tell this story how a modern day director would tell story stories nowadays are very different R. told very different and how old they are we’re told when I was when my children watch that comes from my childhood and I’m like oh this is scanned by me you’re gonna love it rob Reiner’s great blah blah blah this is Ron Howard and this is Joe Dante when I share with them they think I’ll use work %HESITATION really %HESITATION and they’re very much a narrative belt right whereas a more modern day wait you’re a lot of our modern day story starts with inner dialogue the characters we must the reaction that we eat your entry the audience you’re trying to see what is going through the mind of the characters and it’s not so bad body yet so Michelle and I were we want to tell in old fashioned story not very old fashioned but I wanted to tell it the way that we grew up watching and that was the intent that so with the listen to the score the score is very much something you would have heard and the eighties and nineties someone brought up out of Africa it has we’re going out of Africa or something like that and it’s more of an epic sound to it then something that it’s a little bit more modern and that was the look and the feel that we were going for day one with our cinematographer antara composer the film is getting really positive reviews wherever people are watching it so catchy point the search to words where they can find it and any information that as well like they’re they complained about it he Michelle would you like to yeah so it’s on Amazon and designed to be TV and it’s on Google play and YouTube it’s also being taken to the console market coming up so we’re excited to see if it hopefully can go somewhere yeah that Avenue and yeah we’re on Facebook based on the movie and Facebook is probably the best place to go to social media to find out the latest %HESITATION what’s going on there filming the reviews we post in there all the press everything is on and our Facebook page did I miss anything less like so interesting hi there if you have anything you you really want to hot up in the film because we’ve been tiptoeing around the story because we don’t want to give too much away but is there anything else you wanna add about your experience in making acts and the people that you worked with anything at all well I think we kind of already said it but just to reiterate that craziness of how I mean you mentioned the production quality value the film and that the good acting all round I think we really made a really solid looking film that’s the feedback we get that looks studio quality if you know more about our budget was less than six figure six you know you have to you know we say for the price of a new car we made this film over the course of three years and I I am biased but I think it looks and feels and watches it’s just it’s amazing for what we specs and I think you know we’re first time filmmakers never even made a short film before and we did this and pulled it off and so I think that’s that’s the story behind the story be back in just in general that’s a really good story beautifully told and we just hope that people will watch it and I see I hope this gives you the confidence to get more of the scripts I do thought closet yeah hello I I hope to find that one person out there that would believe in me we’ve been to hell do not tell anyone what you spent on the stock don’t keep that budget look you know keep it quiet because if anyone knew what we what we really did here with the amount of money that week that they would know that it was tried just shy of a miracle thanks there’s a part of me that says look what I can do for this amount of money if you would just believe in me I can do an amazing product with a few hundred thousand dollars you know I don’t even need you know millions of dollars I don’t need that and I don’t think a lot of people I need to bring a quality piece of work I don’t I don’t there was no backing up your call back I don’t know if you have heard of that or saw it but it was just for actors in a room that’s it and for a credible actors in the film was done for three hundred thousand dollars it just goes to prove that I’m trying you can just have a good story and if you have a good performance %HESITATION and just believe it stopped working I just believe in not directed that they can deliver something I would love to be able to find someone with a refurbished Alibag if we have so many stories that we have we can share there’s very different remains though very different where it I’m definitely more of a I liked eating any unnecessarily horror when I left I left to get people thinking I have four other scripts but I would love to help right thank you this crazy thing again I think that sets the toxic message to the nation I absolutely hear ye I I just totally agree with everything that you’re saying give people chances give people resources and look what they can achieve so that’s such an important message for this and I I just feel so privileged that you folks come on and talk about all this and shared your story and I hope that my tiny podcast can in some small way get that message out there as well for you so let’s see K. S. and Michelle angle heart thank you so much for your time thank you so much for sharing your story and just wish you all the best with everything it has to come and I hope there are great things coming for you and %HESITATION I really hope I get sick T. again that more links another time yeah me too well thank you so much thank you so much well it’s been a pleasure yeah it’s brilliant


Audiovisual Cultures episode 99 – Pathways to Creativity with Daniel Hess automated transcript

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this is audiovisual cultures the podcast that explores different areas of the arts and media join me your host paula blair and the researchers practitioners and enthusiasts i meet along the way see our website at and other links in the show notes for more information for now enjoy the show

hello and welcome to audiovisual cultures the podcast that explores different areas of creative practice and cultural phenomena i’m paula blair and i’m really delighted to be joined this time by daniel hess daniel has had a really interesting life and career as a wedding videographer and is now exploring more creative outlets in poetry and fiction filmmaking daniel you’re so welcome and it’s really lovely to meet you how are you doing today well thank you for having me and i’m doing quite well over here today great and here is at baltimore is that right yep in baltimore maryland over in the states lovely i’ve had a really interesting day i’ve had a very international day because this morning i was speaking to someone in taiwan and now i’m speaking to you wow that yeah that’s quite the job yeah kovid has strangely made us all very international these days the zoom has has made the world smaller in a way daniel you’ve had quite a range of life and work experiences would you be happy to talk us through some of that give us your overview what do you think we need to know yeah i mean so taking him all the way back to before i was even in college i was originally going to do pharmacology and right at the last minute a friend of mine was actually getting into film but he had kind of been lifelong in the film and the summer before i started college it was interesting because i was doing a lot more writing really exploring my kind of creativity again after not doing it for a little while from when i was younger even younger and he was like you know why don’t you think about doing film you know you can tell stories you can write stuff and you can also have it kind of come to life so i made the last minute decision to switch everything over to film ended up going to film school came out had a few short films was getting a little bit of traction and kind of the creative spaces but after moving out from my parents house money sort of became the driving factor for life as it tends to be sometimes and i kind of fell into wedding videography really by chance a gentleman actually replied to an ad i had way back when on craigslist of all places and was like hey i need a wedding videographer to kind of help out with everything would you want to do it he had a good price so i was like sure and next thing i knew you know i was working a lot with him then i started branching out on my own and then i built up a business through you know my own production company and within a few years you know i was making a net about like close to 100 grand a year just in wedding videos and that was good for a little bit but that sort of work becomes very tedious very fast and i actually had a kind of a wake-up call moment and about two ways the first of which was someone who helped with one of my senior thesis film projects was checking in like hey you know what you’ve been up to these last few years and i explained about the wedding stuff and they sort of had this reaction of wow that’s a shame because you kind of had a lot of talent and i feel like you’re wasting it by doing these weddings and it was one of those like through the heart moments i was like that stings but i think i needed to hear it and then my next wake-up call was around 2017 i had my annual echocardiogram which i usually get every year for my heart condition that i’ve had since i was born and they kind of came back to me and said look you’re gonna have to probably get surgery in a couple years it’s looking you know kind of worse than it ever has before and so that was my second sort of thought of like whoa you know at some point i’m gonna have to get heart surgery don’t know how that is gonna go even though it’s not the most crazy kind of operation i’m gonna need to get and so kind of all these things started coming up and i just realized that like i had to stop you know wasting time and really get back into trying to be creative again so in 2018 i got back on the wagon with everything and made my first short film in like six years and then started writing and everything again and started collecting all the poetry that i was writing up until that point and you know it’s finally just started turning this corner in the last couple years now yeah you’ve had quite a lot going on there i imagine that was quite a formative experience all of those years doing the wedding videos it’s interesting how we think of certain things that people think that your talents are wasted and maybe you can’t be as creative as you would feel an urge to be doing them it’s not something i ever imagined i i’d ever be interested in my life so i don’t really know what clients really want out of them but i imagine you have to do what you’re told and try and achieve what they want so if you’re interested we don’t need to dwell on that but it’s just i just don’t really know anybody who’s worked in that kind of area before so it’s and i think it’s maybe an understudied area of culture because it is something that’s really quite common isn’t it probably all over the world so how was that as your main employment because it sounds like you were popular you were making money you had enough to live a good life you know but it seems like you weren’t fully happy or getting fulfilled by doing that work yeah i mean it’s i i give it credit for that that it really did get me in a really good spot as far as being able to buy my my house that i’m in now and everything like that i mean you can certainly be creative with weddings i mean i know plenty of people who do really amazing wedding videos and really put a lot into it but it takes so much to really get to that level and it’s just one of those days where any kind of wants or needs that you have are completely like out the window you’re really at the mercy of the way in which the couple or the coordinator is really laid out the day for better and for worse there’d be days where you know even trying to take a bathroom break was a big to do and that sort of stuff is taxing i don’t think it’s really taxing on everyone but at least for me personally it just makes you feel a little bit like background noise and it makes you kind of feel a little like undervalued in a sense and that sort of stuff like really after a while kind of started weighing pretty heavy on me and when you’re in in the same place where everyone else is really just having a nice fun day and everything and you’re kind of trapped in that world for 8 10 sometimes even 12 hours it’s just a strange feeling at least for me i can’t really speak for everyone who does it because i do know a lot of people that really do enjoy it just for me just that amount of time just being in a space where you’re usually by yourself and you’re not really you’re interacting with people but you’re not really interacting with people you know it just would cause a lot of strange feelings inside of me and then a lot of anxiety would come out especially leading up to the day because for a long time i used you know i used to have the biggest fear of just missing a moment of the day and so i can remember at like my peak of just paranoia with it i mean i would have five sometimes six cameras all set up throughout like a ceremony space just to make sure i wasn’t going to miss anything and so that was what a lot of it was it was just the build-up to it was pretty intense anxiety-wise and then the day of it was just all this pent-up kind of energy that was sort of coming out but not really coming out in a healthy sort of positive way and so yeah just became draining and then the monotony of it once you’ve seen one wedding you’ve kind of seen them all in a sense there’s little bits of variation here and there but you know you’re pretty much going to have your getting ready stuff your first look if they have one you know the main ceremony reception parent dances toast all that stuff you know it’s just like rinse and repeat after a while too that’s interesting to hear yes i imagine that you must be this spectral presence you’re there but you’re not there and you’re just this observer so yeah quite an odd thing really yeah interesting really really interesting i’ve never really spoken to somebody’s experience i know i have friends who have done it but they’ve done it for a friend you know and they’ve photographed a friend’s wedding and it’s been a one-off commission sort of thing but yeah it’s really interesting to hear that as a job you know as your bread and butter yeah and that’s not really even getting into like the chaos of the days that can come up you know when if you have like a photographer who might not be gelling really well with you or even just sometimes getting food at the end of the day can be a bear so just all those things are just like the little road bumps that could come up throughout the event and would you be in charge of the edit as well yeah so that would be the back end of it so i said photography and videographies have a flip-flop job when it comes to weddings like the day of we’re kind of in the background and they’re leading the charge but then when it comes to editing stuff most photographers it’s like they just put on music and it’s really laid back but when you’re trying to edit a wedding video i mean that’s like you’re talking hours upon hours of footage that needs to get condensed into a story and for what i was offering a lot of it was you do the the highlight reels which are usually about like five to ten minutes but then there’d also be like the hour-long video of just the entire day laid out and i quickly learned that i was not going to be tackling that and luckily i had a really good person who reached out to me that was actually overseas and they ended up doing most of that wedding video editing for me which i was fortunate enough to do because yeah there’s no way i was going to be filming it and then bringing it all together and making into something cohesive because it was just way way way too much that would be an editing suite it seems that there would be a very specific audience as well because realistically who’s going to see it it’s going to be the family of the people getting married and that’s probably it yeah it would be that and i mean occasionally you know they take the video and put it on facebook and i mean you’d be surprised that like the amount of people that that watch that stuff i think mainly just because facebook loves it when people post about weddings so when they would it’d be like blasted all over their their news feed and stuff so you know you would get like that sort of feedback which was always nice when you’d see like friends and stuff saying like this is so great this looks really good but it was to me like a short short answer to like a problem that was just too pervasive to have like a really good outcome in my mind at least so i suppose then when when you can go back to doing your own self-led projects you can have more creative license and how you show things you know and i imagine you’d have to do fairly conventional straightforward camera setups and things you framings and that sort of thing and you have no crazy crash sims or anything like that yeah i mean you know when when you’re doing it on your own it’s a completely different process and you kind of know going in like this is what elements i have and what i’m trying to do with and i mean you know you do have things that come up throughout like a shoot day or whatever but to me it’s that’s the even more interesting stuff because it like keeps your mind going and it really is keeping you on your toes and to me like more of a fun way than like let’s say when you’re trying to do a wedding and you’re basically just trying to make sure you don’t miss anything would you or someone you know make a great guest on audiovisual cultures then email audiovisualcultures to have a conversation when it comes down to your own work so you’ve mentioned your poetry and the short films that you’ve worked on and you’ve been working on screenwriting what are your interests what are the things that you’re saying you know what are you talking about what are you thinking about when you make those more creative projects you know i’d say with the first few projects that i’ve been doing since i’ve transitioned from everything again it’s really just been a lot of processing the things that i’ve been through in my life so i’d like to think of the poetry book and the screenplay i wrote last year as more of the catharsis to sort of analyze everything that i’ve been through especially with previous relationships and stuff because those have been just these big moments that were really tumultuous and really i kind of went through a lot with each of my long-term relationships that i’ve been with up until this point so the poetry is a lot of processing through that it’s a lot of processing through the feelings with the weddings that i’ve been doing and then just dealing with a little bit of grief and stuff over the years so that’s really where the inspiration for all of that has come from and i feel like that was a really good stepping stone for me because you know now i’m starting to think of stories that are really outside of that like the next screenplay i want to work on is something that takes place during like world war one and it’s just nothing that i’ve experienced in my own life so i feel like that was the starting point was really just pulling in everything i’d been through up until now and sort of using that as a jumping off point for trying to tell some stories i mean with your poetry you published that just this year is that right yeah i published it back in january of this year what kind of poetry do you think you write i mean do you do something structured do you do free verse do you have any particular styles or anything like that you know or is it these are the things that have tumbled out of my head for a few years you know what what kind of approach do you take when you’re writing poetry you know i’d say it’s not really super structured i say a lot of it is kind of free verse because usually my process is really just you know i’ll be doing something or maybe just walking or reading and i’ll just kind of have a flash moment and that’s when i’ll grab my phone and you know i have like a little notepad app and i’ll just quickly start with a few lines and then i’ll just keep it growing from there and i try to just find like a natural kind of conclusion for the piece and then just sort of write it all out that’s usually for me like a five to ten minute process when it all kind of just happens with this book that i published it’s really just super free verse there’s really nothing that’s like structured or anything but again like as i’m sort of moving forward with things you know with stuff that i’m writing now i’m trying to have a little bit more structure or at least have an ongoing theme for things a little bit better because i feel like with this first one it’s just been a lot of just brain dumping onto the page and there are common themes that like i structure the book through but i feel like now that i’m thinking about it a little bit more and have had time to digest what i’ve written before has helped me to move forward and start experimenting with different ways of writing and different ways of expressing you know what i’m going through and i’m also just kind of trying to create stuff that’s a little more fantastical i guess is the word not so much just based on my own experiences but just trying to think of different viewpoints on things and then having poems that are focused around that yeah interesting and is it purely on paper or do you ever read them do you ever perform them or anything like that is it a very sort of private thing that you’ve then put out in just print form or how does it work for you yeah i mean pretty much everything was just written down i didn’t really do much performing with any of them but i have done a few like book readings virtually and stuff and it’s been interesting because you know when i’m reading them out loud it takes on a new not version of it but it just sounds different than the way it sounds in my head so it sort of taught me to actually do that more with what i’m writing now is sort of like sound it out better because you know i’ll notice sometimes when i’m reading certain poems it’s like this sounds really good on paper but now that i’m reading it it doesn’t flow very well or there’s certain parts that if i would have maybe changed out a word or two could have just worked a little better so it’s an interesting thing that from the start i’ve known that that’s kind of always what you should do but i’m so notoriously bad for not doing that for myself maybe it’s because i’m just nervous that i’ll read it out loud and be like ah this sucks and i won’t want to do anything with it so maybe it’s my own like mental hurdle protection yeah i do understand i think it’s good practice for any kind of writing is to read it out read it out loud yeah because i i mean even with some of the more analytical work that i do and you writing research papers and things i always read the my lines just to make sure okay that sentence actually is a sentence and it says something you know or if it starts to trip you up you know okay i need to simplify how that’s said that’s too messy you know so yeah it’s a nice idea just i ask because a lot of the poets i know when i’m based in the northeast of england and there’s quite a nice community of spoken word people doing poetry slams and things like that so i think it’s been a way for me to find my way back to poetry because i used to write a lot as a teenager and then i just got fed up with putch i did an english literature degree and then got fed up with reading i could see that but actually seeing people perform it i think is a really special thing yeah even if it is just for yourself or it’s as you say it readings where you’re promoting your book you know it’s a really nice thing to do because it’s your voice they’re your thoughts so you’re feeling so it your voice being attached to it is really nice i think there’s a pretty good scene here in baltimore with that too it’s just one of those things where uh it’s really up to me to put myself out there and actually go to these things more but i’m pretty bad with that as well i think as much as i can peruse online and make connections that way i feel like i need to get a little bit better with the real world thing which i mean last year was a pretty much a wash for everyone but i think now that things are finally starting to get back to normal a little bit i think moving forward i definitely need to start getting out to more of those things and connecting with people in the in the live sense yeah it’s one of those i think you just have to rip the plaster off you know you just have to stop thinking about it so worrying about it i know it’s easier said than done i struggle with anxiety as well and you just have to trick yourself almost into just doing it and not thinking about it oh just send that email and just think about it because i think once you’ve done it once should be easier exactly i mean that’s you know just like anything i mean i remember personally like uh when i first started doing video production work a lot of it was in the city here and i used to have such bad anxiety with driving in cities and now it’s like old hat i mean i can do it all day and it doesn’t bother me even a slightest bit but that’s what it was it was literally just rinse and repeat and you just sort of get over that hump after a little while so i’m totally there with you on that point a massive thank you to our lovely members at forward slash av cultures your continued support is helping me make improvements to the show all the time so would you tell us a bit then about your film work so you said you’ve worked on shorts before oh what could you tell us about those and are they available to say yeah so pretty much everything i’ve done in the creative senses on the website for me or on like the vimeo page it’s been an interesting sort of journey for me in the film space because like i said it was really my my good friend who is a lot more in depth with film i’d always grown up watching films and really enjoying cinema but for me it was wasn’t something i really thought about getting into what was interesting was i feel like what i’ve sort of looked back and found with everything is that for me personally i think that the storytelling aspect is really where i feel like i’ve always had the most depth and success with but i’ve always kind of struggled with the transition from page to screen as far as like visualizing what angles to use and constraining myself to like okay if i put the tripod here with this sort of lens like this is the result i’m going to get i can’t do it in my head so you know for a long time i i really was telling myself okay you know i really want to do writing and directing and i can take on both but with the project that i did in 2018 i really found that you know while i can do it and i can make it happen i feel like it’s better for me to have the right people by my side that can actually translate what i’m writing better than even i feel like i can and again maybe that’s some kind of like weird mental hurdle which in 10 years i’ll figure out that like it was just me sort of protecting myself from actually making the films as a director myself but at least at this stage in my life i’m sort of feeling like where i need to go with things is finding really good directors who can translate the writing in the way in which i can write the writing if that makes sense it’s one of those things where as i’m writing something i almost see it as kind of a stage play whereas like everything’s just kind of a flat canvas and it’s all sort of coming to life around me but i’m not seeing like you know okay when this person is talking like this if if i have this sort of camera movement or something like that none of that enters into my mind even the least bit i think with you know as times going on i’ve just sort of made that mental jump so it’s been nice because as i look back on everything a lot of the films that i’ve made or worked on you know i was either more as like a co-director or somebody that was there just one set helping things go smoothly you know maybe more as a producer or something like that and those have always been in my mind the best films that i’ve made with a good team and not one of those things where you know when i’ve tried to make them i feel like they work and i feel like they have a good message to them but as far as how everything comes out on the screen there’s just not a lot of refinement you know i feel like i’m more of this let’s just have a camera free-flowing and stuff like that and that always just doesn’t work as best as it could for something that’s just more visualized by someone who can make that transition more than i can that’s really perceptive i think it takes a lot of self-awareness to really think that stuff through and go do you know what this is where my interests and talents are lying at the moment and then to be open to learning from other people and really truly collaborating that sounds great daniel yeah i think it was it’s a it’s a little bit of that and i mean it was i think it was honestly just kind of that youthful like stubbornness and pride for a long time uh i think because i’m kind of the first like artist type in my family that’s really gone into an artist’s field full time and i feel like for a long time it was i just had to keep trying to do that because i just didn’t want people to be like well you know he did it and he kind of failed and now he’s doing something else so i would say a little bit was that you know that i didn’t want to let it go because i didn’t want to tell people like look you know i did it it didn’t really work out as well or something like that that was that too i have to be uh fully transparent with that one as well no again really interesting and yeah it’s fascinating how we change as we move through our lives and the things that happen to us and you go do you know what actually i might have really wanted that to be my past but i don’t think that’s who i am so i’m gonna develop this bit of what i do for a bit i think it does take self-awareness to go oh okay look that’s just not quite working so you know let’s just hands up and admit that and develop this thing that is working a bit better you know i think that’s good because there are a lot of people who would just ploy ahead yeah yeah definitely i’ve seen that and it’s just you know it’s one of those things where you try to like steer some people when you see that in a direction and either realize it or they don’t and when it doesn’t happen it can always be a little frustrating because you’re kind of watching the same things happening over and over again with that person but yeah i mean it was it was that and i i’d like to say like for as crazy as last year was with everything that went on with covid i mean for me personally it was a nice refresh and a nice way for me to sit down with the writing and have the time to do that and really realize that like hey i think there might be something that’s here that’s sort of developing because i feel like i just kind of buried it for a long time with the film stuff and distracting myself in a sense with thinking that like this was the answer when really the writing was what was there from the beginning again as i kind of look back i see that a lot more clearly than i ever have and it could well be that the writing is what’s right for you at the moment and maybe that ability to visualize it in a cinematic way it may well come to you it may never but to really develop what you’re doing now and to work hard on that and to really acknowledge and recognize that film is a collaboration it is a team effort and if you can’t see something that’s fine because somebody else will and they know what to do that’s the beauty of such a collaborative medium i mean if you wanted to talk about it a bit more i mean are you working on a screenplay at the minute what sort of things in terms of storytelling are you working through now that you’re you’re more decided that yes i’m allowing myself to concentrate on the storytelling aspect of it yeah it’s a feature film screenplay that i started work on last summer and just this last couple weeks i finally got sort of the definitive version of it finished so it took about like a year process to really go through all the motions with it um but it’s basically you know one of those serious sort of drama film that’s set in like the early 90s and it follows the final day of this relationship of a tumultuous relationship of a young couple so it really started as a piece for me to finally kind of bury the hatchet in my own mind with my first sort of long-term relationship which was about six or seven years long just a lot of craziness went on with that whole experience and you know i kind of just really even at the start of last year kind of just wasn’t over it to be honest so as i started writing the script that was sort of the way for me to finally analyze everything i’d been through and i found that like each version of the script that i was writing and formulating were these different modes of getting over it so like one version you know sort of had an ending that was them having this moment of forgiving each other and so like that was sort of my first step so it was like very interesting for me because i was seeing like a therapist at the same time and you know as we would chat about it i’m like this is so weird that it’s just like each time i’m writing this it’s like i’m getting a different ending but they’re all different versions of things that i kind of needed to hear or go through myself so it was really really informative to sort of get me through all of that and now that i’m done you know i have this story that i’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from it’s it’s been in a couple like screenwriting festival type things where it’s gotten accepted to so you know now i’m in the process of just trying to get it into some sort of production i’ve met with a few like producers that are based in like new york and la i haven’t gotten any green lights yet but i have gotten a lot of really good feedback and you know now i’m really lining everything up talking with a few really good directors who has like work that i really admire so just making the process of trying to get it into some sort of live-action form but again that would be just me doing the writing and then possibly some like producing work to sort of make it happen it’s been a big process and it’s still kind of only at the beginning right now but it’s been a lot of fun and it’s really helped me to really understand the more business side of the industry and how to get things started and how to make things come to life so i’m hoping it by the end of this year all the ducks can maybe be in a row and maybe it’ll get into production sometime in 2022 or maybe even 2023 who knows but it’s been cool so i’m really happy that i have this now and we’re able to use it as a piece to move forward in my life but also have something that is representative of where i’m trying to go in life as well that’s great that’s a really lovely way of putting that as well you mentioned as well that you were visualizing it when you’re writing more like a stage play and is that something you consider as well is writing for theater yeah i mean you know because i was really sort of introduced in theater in my high school years and i always found it pretty cool you know i i thought it was just you’re doing this performance it’s live when there are things that go wrong you sort of just live with it and keep the show going and everything but i find it cool because you’re usually telling things that are a little more grounded you’re telling more smaller scale although you know i have seen plenty of plays where it gets pretty grandiose which is pretty cool so it’s definitely something that i’ve thought about writing for because i think it would be interesting to try to take a medium like film that i’ve been so like entrenched with and seeing something that’s similar but not quite 100 there and sort of having that come to life so it’s something that i definitely have been thinking a little bit about i don’t really have anything specifically that i’m thinking of writing for like the stage but it would be a nice next step for me to jail into that a little bit do you find that the main centers of filmmaking they’re still la new york is there really much scope for you in terms of nd production i mean i learned so little about how it all works in the states beyond those main centers of it yeah so i was just curious if there’s avenues there for independent filmmakers are there any state funds that you can access to maybe do an independent production that sort of stuff yeah i mean those are kind of still the main centers and more recently like atlanta is another city that’s really come up as a hub for film stuff but you know especially after last year i feel like it doesn’t really matter as much anymore i will say like you know if you’re just trying to get into an area that all they’re doing is productions and everything sure those cities are like really great if you’re just trying to work in the industry and maybe try to like work your way up through the ranks but i think as far as just trying to get a production made yeah i mean i think you can really kind of do it anywhere and different states do have different you know local state funding or arts funding but through my own experiences with it and chatting with a few people that are really kind of more vetted in the industry that i am i hate to just say it’s like a fruitless endeavor but it kind of is because unless you really know somebody that’s connected with the board of trustees or things like that you’re usually not going to get accepted to like different arts fundings for these different groups and like i said that was my perception of it and then i had the opportunity to chat with somebody who actually won an oscar for best short film a couple years ago and that was his same exact perception and i was like well you know this is a guy who’s won an oscar coming at me with this sort of knowledge that i feel like there’s some credence to that so the grant funding is there but it’s just it’s a really big wall to climb so the thought is to you know either take more of a crowdfunding approach to things if you’re trying to get financing or just hitting the pavement and sort of finding those investors that are looking to just put some money into a production and sort of chatting with those people because at least from the research that i’ve been doing the last few years on it all that seems to be still the best method is just connecting with a lot of people networking and finding the people who are financing and wanting those like unique indie productions and everything like that so if that person’s out there listening today then uh just send me your email and i’ll send you over my script yeah the hustle of it all you just have to keep putting yourself out there at any opportunity there’s no hustle too small i think in this industry yeah i mean that’s really what it comes down to is like i always say that for film especially you know the the fun part is when you’re writing you know the tough part is the next step which is just trying to find people who are willing to contribute to the project or really out networking yourself with everyone to run like a successful crowdfunding campaign which is just in today’s world especially so so hard to do because that’s the route that i’d say 80 percent of the people in the indie world are still trying to take so there’s a lot of noise with with everybody trying to get money but you seem to have your head screwed on at least and as you say you’ve been doing loads of research you’re not just expecting hey fund me i’m a genius you know yeah i mean i at one point you know i i used to think that it was like okay i’ll make i’ll make art and like somebody will come and it’s just you learn quickly or at least you hope to learn quickly that that’s really not the case the marketing and the networking of it all are just insanely vital because again it’s just there’s a lot of people trying to do the same thing and you’re just trying to kind of stand out from a crowd so really that’s what it is and just you know getting to know as many people have a friend who’s like he’s a published author and he’s gave me the advice of just trying not to say no to anything you know even if it’s something that feels like less than what you’re doing right now if you can make it work then try to say yes to it because you never know what that person will end up becoming or doing that can turn around in maybe a year so say hey well this this popped up and i thought of you and then there’s a connection that gets made and next thing you know it’s like a huge opportunity so that’s the approach that i try to take as much as possible because it’s true i mean you just never know what’s going to pop up from just having a conversation with somebody true and it can take you in so many different directions and directions you never imagined you’d go in but actually it could work out really well for you so it’s great to be open to that and as you say to put yourself out there and to network and to make friends and it’s networking in not a cynical way but in a i genuinely want to get to know these people because someday they might go oh there was that guy daniel he was really nice and he was interested in this stuff and yeah we should have a chat with him about this you know and that kind of thing is it can just open doors for you exactly and i i try to like stay connected as much as possible like right now i do a lot of film like short film reviews and stuff for people and you know i genuinely try to follow them online and really interact with them even outside of just doing the review um because i think it’s i like that you know i just like getting to know a lot of different people and being able to just have conversations with with them because you know i don’t know about everybody but like i find that a lot of times i’m sort of like you know maybe one day i’m feeling like listening this certain type of music and sort of in this kind of mood and i know that this person is like that’s what he’s into or she’s into and i’m like hey you know i was like listen to the song today and i i remember you like this and then you know have a little chat for a little bit but it’s just those sort of things that i just genuinely like really like to do and i just find the more people you know the more kind of cool interesting conversations that you can express to them but then they can share with you with just different stories that maybe they’ve been through in their life because i always find that cool like what you know even where you’re at you know it’s just like it’s all cool stuff to me i try to look at life almost with like a child like sense of like wonderment with things where i’m just like even the most mundane stuff like i could literally have a conversation with somebody who’s just you know maybe he’s just a day-to-day janitor or something like that but i find that cool i’m like what do you do like i know you you’re supposed to do this but like what really is going on and i love to hear those stories from people because i think it’s all just pretty fascinating yeah it’s great to encounter a different person and have the attitude of oh this is a potential new friend that’s so exciting and just be open to those experiences as you say and this has come up on the podcast a fair bit in the past few months actually is that idea of thinking as your contemporaries you know people you’re working around you your peers and everything thinking of them more as potential collaborators rather than competitors again with film again it is a collaborative medium but people are pitted against each other and so many of the creative industries people are competing for the jobs they’re competing for the contracts they’re competing to get their thing made and really we should be trying to break that system and be introducing a new one that goes nowhere all potential collaborators were supporting each other you know if i can’t do this saying that person can you know and we can do it together rather than being fragmented or just that competitive thing you know i think again yeah it’s just been coming up a lot and i think that just from everything from the past year humanity needs to work together a bit better and a bit more oh yeah yeah it’s i mean it’s crazy because you know especially in in film it’s just like nothing really to me shows when somebody’s sort of inexperienced with everything more than when they’re very like touchy-feely about sharing anything that they’re doing i’m like a complete open book you know and that was one of the best things that i was told when i was in my undergraduate in college which is like if you have a script or whatever like share it you know send it out send it to people that you know you know of course like there’s the writer’s guild and copyright to take to protect yourself but once you have that sort of protection like send the thing out you know and share it with anybody who’s willing to read it or wants to read it because it’s one of those things where like even if someone is let’s say like trying to steal something inevitably their version of it in your version of it are going to be two totally different things and what ends up coming out 99.9 percent of the time is not going to be as good as what you’re going to be able to do with your story in your head so i i’ve always had the mentality of just trying to to share and i offer it all time you know again with the the film reviews that i do now one of the things i always tell people when i send them a review of the film is like hey if you’re working on a story or if you’re tr having some ideas and you just want to like chat about it like i’m down like just let me know and i’ll tell you like and i hate it but it’s very rare that people actually take me off on that and i find it a little sad because i’m like that stuff excites me like if somebody’s trying to come up with this story like i love just chatting about that maybe giving them some ideas that they can utilize or something like that but yeah a lot of people just don’t do it because i think on one hand maybe it’s this fear of somebody critiquing what they’re doing and on another hand maybe they’re afraid that like if somebody gives them an idea and it’s not completely theirs 110 percent then it’s of lesser because it’s not who they are a hundred percent or i’m just like you know that’s just not the way it goes you know especially like if you’re working on bigger budget stuff you know network shows and things like that those are all a huge collaboration of people who all share different things that they’re good at and bring it all together and so that’s always what i try to say is like look you know maybe i can bring just one little element to the story that you’re just not seeing because sometimes it is easy to overlook stuff like that when you’re in your own head and that’s the difference between something that’s good and something that’s great so you just never know unless you have those conversations with people but yeah it is way too much of people i think being afraid of collaboration because everybody just wants to do it themselves a lot of times and while that’s great and while great things can come of that i think the majority of the time better things come of just having conversations and collaborating with others absolutely yes because it’s still their idea you’ve just nudged them a bit so that they can refine it that’s really what’s going on so some really great words of wisdom there daniel some sometimes i have them we’d love you to be part of the conversation with av cultures pod on instagram facebook and twitter and we also have discord is there anything we haven’t touched on that you’re really keen to talk about today not really anything as i’ve moved forward with everything with the book it’s been quite an interesting journey because i randomly just decided to self-publish it and had no marketing sense or anything like that so it’s been a lot of learning with that which has been great and i’m excited to you know have a follow-up come out and you know i’m sitting down to my first actual like novel right now too so that’s been a really cool journey so yes there’s just a lot of things coming up on the horizon that it feels like everything that i’ve been messing with and experimenting with creatively is sort of coalescing at this point in my life which has just been a lot of fun great it’s great that’s it’s really lovely to hear that you know and it’s great to hear that somebody’s had that opportunity to really just take stock you’ve worked so hard for so many years you’ve really earned this opportunity as well but to just have that space and time to get all of that out of you you know and then to see what you can make of it you know because you’ve got that raw clay and now you’re trying all these different ways of sculpting it exactly and i always feel like a little bit jealous because uh you know some people it’s just that’s so easy for them at such a young younger age and i feel like it’s just taking me like 10 years of refinement really going through highs and lows and all that stuff to get to this point so i feel like i’m a little bit of a late bloomer but i’m trying to make up for lost time well that’s interesting as well because i think i’m probably a bit older than you and a bit and i feel a bit like that too because i think you know in a way we’re pressured into you need to know exactly who you are at 16 or you’re worthless you know and there’s too much pressure on people to do that and i think we’re in a constant state of self-discovery we’re constantly learning who am i and who what are what am i doing in the world and all of this and some people don’t have the luxury of just knowing who they are and some people know exactly who they are and they’re not allowed to be that person and they have to overcome that you know and there’s all there’s so many ranges of experiences out there and you know even if somebody a bit younger you know it’s come easy to them what you’re saying well maybe they don’t have the life experience that you have you know so everything i think balances out and every experience is important and none of us are behind you know and i think it comes to you when you’re ready for it and hopefully when the time is right and i’m hoping that’s what’s happened with you and it sounds like you this is the time of your life that you were ready for all of this and that’s great well yeah i think that’s a really profound way to put it and uh hearing that through it’s like i agree i think yeah you’re kind of hitting it right on the head with that but i appreciate that hopefully hopefully that’s the case hopefully all the things are the dominoes are in a row now for me so just keep moving forward right yeah it’s never too late people are never too old i’m a real advocate for that we’re in a constant state of becoming i think and we shouldn’t put pressure on ourselves to do with our age because you can’t control the factors of your life it’s very true you just do what you can and you enjoy it if you can exactly so daniel you you mentioned that we can access pretty much all of your work from your website so where do we find your website yeah so the website is uh and that’s t-o-t-o-n-y productions with that’s the name of my production company and so yeah that has all the videos that i’ve done in the past and then all of my writing work and then the blog where you know i do the film reviews and film write-ups and things like that yep that’s kind of the one-stop shop for everything that’s great i will have that in the show notes everybody if you’re listening if you’re watching get down there and hit that link and check out daniel’s brilliant work daniel hess thank you so very much for your time today it’s been an absolute pleasure and a delight speaking with you i’ve really really enjoyed it yeah thank you so much for having me it’s it’s been a pleasure here as well thank you

this is a cozy people production with me paula blair the music is common ground by airton used under a 3.0 non-commercial creative commons license and is available at if you’ve enjoyed this episode please give us a good reading subscribe and recommend audio visual cultures to your friend all of our contact details socials information ways to listen and our mailing list sign up can be found on our website linked in the show notes thank you so much for listening and supporting take care and i’ll catch you next time



Audiovisual Cultures episode 88 – The New Hamburg School of Filmmaking automated transcript of full live recording

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okay welcome to another episode of audiovisual cultures with me paula blair today i have the really great pleasure of being joined from germany by lars henrichs and nissan arakan to talk about the new hamburg school of filmmaking we’re going to talk about your filmmaking collaborations and maybe a bit about your underground film festival um but first nissan and lars could i ask you each to tell us a bit about yourselves give us a bit of an introduction to you okay sure okay um hi my name is nissan arakan i’m originally from turkey i live in germany since i am i was 10 years old so it’s now for 20 years i studied acting and homework with last together um when i was 17 and then i started uh working as an actor here in germany um but i wanted to do more independent unique stuff stuff i would like to watch and i was kind of stuck in in the german film industry as as the turkish muslim roles to play and um the system is for for um actors who who are not exactly white um frustrating and um so i want to do my own stuff i still work as an actress here i mean now during corona it’s almost impossible but i i never stopped working as as an actor because i i need to pay my rent but but at uh the year 2016 i think we we met again so we we knew each other when we were 17 then for a long time we haven’t seen each other and then we we re-met and um he had a similar story he also but he should tell himself he also started as an actor and was frustrated by the industry so and he you should tell yourself your own story but we started to make um independent movies together which are more unique not so mainstream not not so german typical at all and um yeah we were i’m really happy about that uh all right um i’m i’m lars lars hendrix uh i’m an uh yeah actor and filmmaker from uh hamburg uh yeah i met nissan when we were 17 and studied acting uh here in hamburg and i’ve always wanted to become a filmmaker i’ve always wanted to become a director um but i didn’t do that great in school so i was told uh the the the um you you can be an actor but you can’t be a director because for that you would have to go to a university and you would need you would need whatever better grades um and then i went to university to study acting when i was 17. um and after that i started i i directed the play and then i started making short films with uh with other acting students and film students and out of that grew uh yeah some kind of a production collective um i made my first couple of uh no budget feature films uh i think i started in 2013 i had uh i landed a leading role in the australian teenagers sitcom in your dreams it’s on youtube go watch it um and and after that like that that was like a really big set so so i was for for uh two years every day on on this big million euro budget set and i thought all right i can emulate these processes without the money um and we started doing that in 2013 when i made my feature debut why hans wagner hates the stories guy uh whatever um wasn’t that good it’s okay actually it’s okay um and yeah then after i made that i met other hamburg-based independent no budget filmmakers because that was right around the time when um equipment for like consumer grade prices uh would would start to come up that that that was able to uh produce images and sound that were fit for cinemas uh so so for the first time like cinema level film production became achievable for everyone and there were a couple of people who started doing that in in hamburg um namely the director christian grundy and director tommy tommy kessler bad with names even though those are collaborators of quite some years really embarrassing sorry sorry tommy um no but but then we we uh we as three came together and we first founded the obsessive underground film festival in hamburg that focused on these kinds of movies um that would uh untypically for german movies uh be very um they would be mostly genre movies uh not exactly the the way genre usually works like we were all genre bending and experimenting and stuff because we didn’t have monetary restrictions uh we we could just do whatever we wanted because there was no money to be lost because it was all no budget um but yeah it was it was uh like german film usually isn’t uh genre even genre adjacent so so we we did that um did that for a couple years and then uh yeah then we re-met and we made a movie together uh in which for the first time christian grunde who co-founded the festival other director uh was the uh he he was the dop on that movie um and so many other stuff we like he did the costumes with me yeah and uh he um did he organized people who could um like the sound guy and and he organized he made set designs yeah we became like a like like a three people like like a punk band making movies yeah and um yeah and and then we made that and and then nissan uh had the idea to submit it via film freeway uh that’s a that’s an online platform to film festivals all around the world then we got invited then we traveled to all these places and we kept making movies uh actually uh getting some budgets uh getting the movies released for the first time so that’s all nissan’s work and she also uh then um took over organizing the film festivals uh together with me and christian and then people from the us came and and from belgium and from all over europe and it was uh it was great wonderful a comprehensive introduction to both of you and all the things you’ve been working on thank you so much um and there’s a there’s a huge amount there i think for us to start to go and look at in a bit more detail i mean first of all i just want to thank you both so much for doing this with such impeccable english because i have no german so i feel very inadequate right now as a horrible british person who can’t speak any other languages very well and so just thank you on the top for that um it’s uh yeah you’ve been doing a really impressive amount of work and i love the way you describe this as the three of you a bit like a punk band making movies and that was something i really wanted to pick up on i think i feel perhaps um a lot of empathy with that because a lot of podcasters like me it feels very diy and on the hoof and very punk as well and it’s the technology that’s allowing us finally to do that because like yourselves i never would have broken into radio by myself or or filmmaking by myself so this gives me a way of doing it so i’d love really to hear a bit more detail about that if you’re happy to go into that a bit more sure nissan um should we like start with i don’t know leon or well yeah okay so so as i as i said before yeah i think that that diy culture in general is right now at the place where it’s never been before because yeah sound equipment too has come such a long way i mean uh i know of professional film production that gets dubbed via whatsapp voice message which isn’t ideal but people don’t notice because even your phone you have such high grade microphones by now i remember when i actually did have a punk band uh when when we were first starting out and we were 13 in our uh

what you call in our rehearsal room and we wanted to record ourselves and it was a real hassle and we had like these we had to carry these huge computers like a windows 98 tower pc uh to that room and set it all up and then we had one crappy microphone that that that and you couldn’t even really make out what you were listening to when you were listening to it and um i don’t think that’s the thing that uh new bands uh really have to uh fight with uh in in in that’s um in that way because yeah everything is now capable of of really empowering you to to produce good things and um i think because in in film all kinds of uh media sort of comes together like you need you need great sound equipment you need great uh the capacity of great sound production um you need to make a soundtrack so so some music is is in there too then you need a good camera you need good good images so so so all of this sort of comes together um and i think it hasn’t been possible for a long time to make something that can on some level compete uh with uh what you can put out with a lot of money behind it it is i think still you can’t really compete it’s it’s still everything we do is great for the tiny amount of cost but but i i guess you will be able to make out the difference but it’s very very different to what it was like in the 90s it doesn’t look like it’s shot on video um it it looks like it’s shot for for cinema because we shoot in the same kind of format um and yeah i think i think that’s i think we’re living in a really interesting time because uh for filmmaking and and yeah every other type of media it hasn’t been possible before um and i think music as usual has been ahead of the revolution like we’ve seen all these diy acts come up and and really make the big time really quickly uh soundcloud has been a thing uh in in this way and and film is always a little behind because it’s a little bit more complicated but i hope it’s coming uh we’ve been doing it for for almost 10 years now we’ve been looking for people all over the world who would do the feature film thing this way um and i mean in the us there has been the mumblecore wave uh already and um yeah i i think it’s a thing that still is in its infancy but it’s coming and i hope there’s gonna be more uh punk band type uh production uh we’re not a company but what are we collective production collectives coming up yeah um i mean yeah i think diy can be very frustrating um but it’s also very very rewarding when you when you watch something and you know everything on screen was me

so um sorry nissan do you have anything to add there um i’m not sure because you uh you told already all the important stuff and i um i think what i’m also uh proud of is that we started um really little with i mean you did other movies before i don’t want to take credit for that um he started before me but when we um did our first movie together um which was leon must die which you can watch on amazon prime um we just did it uh we we just showed a feature movie in the park sometimes uh we had i think we had like three locations which was um in the flat of the uh actor of the main actor and the park and i think the um what’s keller in the basement in the basement of a friend so and um it was really little but we we were creative and and the movie was ironical and um we last me and christian we did like everything together and um i don’t know it was really great after the film freeway uh tour that um the movie went to vietnam to a festival in vietnam to to the um states and we also went um to um to america in sanford maine and also in in uk we were in the derby film festival and that was really great um so then we did this the uh i y thing again with a little more budget this time we worked for an acting school and um we worked with their um students on a movie together um based on on their uh character wishes um so uh because we you uh last and me we are also from the acting department so we could work with that and we are making films we could work with that so um the second movie we did together um was also on many many festivals and uh was um was um uh sorry how do you say his english is better than it was discovered it was discovered um from uh from a uh release element a blu-ray uh releaser oh yes get released in the u.s yes it’s behind us yes oh wow on blu-ray srs cinema so uh i was really proud of that and really happy about it um the second movie is about about seven girls in the forest um and maybe um cursed forest so it’s it’s kind of fantastical but very very subtle um and it was with uh it was the first time for us that we worked um with an ensemble and those were like seven girls who were like in their twenties early 20s early 20s they were just finishing drama school they were not so easy but it was fun and it was also for us we learned a lot to work with a big group and um then we did the same thing with the acting school with another big group and um then uh we made a really really uh big project which like killed us um almost uh and um it’s not finished yet we we made a series which will be about seven to eight episodes and we’re working on the releasement right now and um what i’m really proud of is that you can see the development from from the first movie we did together um to the series which will uh which we will publish this year this year yes definitely yeah this this series by the way is is another really great example of like the series we did would not be would not ever exist without the the the new kinds of diy techniques that are out there when we first came up with it and pitched it uh all those german production companies would go oh yeah that’s really interesting that sounds cool send us the the the scripts and we sent the scripts and then uh people um would say ah wait uh now we weren’t involved in developing the scripts now we don’t want it anymore then uh we would go to distributors who would say oh yeah right cool uh go shoot it bring us the the the finished uh product um then we had to shoot it by ourselves and we thought we would get help in post-production but when we went back to the same people or to production houses they would say well it’s shot now we got nothing to do with it now so now we’re doing uh all the post-production by ourselves too which we are only capable of doing because of all the projects before that because of all the software available and and hardware available so so we will actually be able to finish it and put it out there but i guess um only 10 15 years ago were we in the same situation that we are in now the project would be dead it would be completely tanked um so uh yeah it’s it’s that’s another thing where we are lucky while having bad luck uh with the timing um yes it’s a tremendous amount of work that you’re all doing by yourselves you’re all having these multiple production roles in front of and behind the camera so often it must be a lot but i mean you must be all skilled to the max by this point as well you must really know your stuff um really um lucky to have christian who is like our technician daddy so like we always ask him how to do this and that and i mean every time when we do something i guess it’s because because you’re so so uh into the production yourself like when i when i when i watch the thing that that we’ve just been doing i see the seams i see everything that’s wrong with it yeah and then when i and then i always think oh wow i can’t i i can’t do anything all of these things we did i i suck at them and then i watch it two years later and i think well there’s nothing really wrong with it that’s fine same same yeah um that’s lovely yeah you become a bit less hard on yourself and you know how difficult it all was um i was wondering as well i mean there’s there’s still a lot for us to to get to but i was wondering that trying to trying to push a new mode of filmmaking in germany must be a really tall order because there’s such a history in german cinema from the very start of you know so german expressionism beca and and this is something that feeds hollywood with all the emigrate directors who go there and it becomes really global and then with new german cinema you’ve got filmmakers like finn venders or rhino verner has fassbender and you know um i suppose anyone who who’s a cinephile will know those names for example um so it must be a really tall order to try and

push a movement or create a movement that is different to those that’s distinctive from those um but it’s true to yourselves and it maybe speaks to new contemporary younger generations i mean is that something you’re trying to do or is it something that you’re wanting to move away from or reacting against how do you feel about that um should i answer you first i first um i answer because uh every time when you answer you already say everything i i wanted to say um honestly with me it’s my first uh aim was when um i was uh doing this in the kind of movies and or events i also joined to obsess for underground festival um first of all i um i wanted to do something i really care about and why i wanted to become an artist because you kind of lose it if you are well i only speak to myself i kind of started to losing it while i was in the industry because it’s not so creative and artsy as you imagine as i imagined it’s it was lots of you know typecasting as i um talked and lots about um small talks networking and waiting for the phone to ring and and when the phone rang then you got the role for a project you did you wouldn’t even watch you know and um so that was the first thing and then i just wanted to fulfill myself so then i i really cared about this project which we made so the first aim i accomplished um and the second aim was to i don’t know to change something here in the industry or to um to and enrich it if if you um if there’s a word like that uh to um which was also for our last series for example great that by then we made all these other projects because um we could use i don’t know how we have like hundreds of different locations for example in the series because we i knew by then so many people who wanted to help us so um i also my second aim was also to um to make like a film a young independent film making family and um to feel like uh fulfilled and to to i don’t know can live from it um but by now um i i don’t know i feel like i i would like to um make continue making this somewhere else because i feel like the way i i want to work doesn’t really work in germany

okay um to the uh the the um yeah yeah to to add to that and to speak to the question of um the difficulty of pushing a new sort of filmmaking movement in germany um i think like i i love german expressionism um i i think there are me too we have a metropolis poster yeah it’s up there just out of frame i have maria pear as well yeah so uh the the the yeah the the silent era expression isn’t really really awesome and it’s so influential and um i don’t know we also sorry to interrupt which we also used in in in our movie leon must die you can see of uh german expression yeah we we do sort of quote uh i think nosferatu um and and metropolis yeah yeah yeah um so uh yeah i i really love that but that was a hundred years ago and uh then the the german people uh willingly ended that um and and completely destroyed all they had in terms of in terms of film culture and uh after that until the the um the new german film in the in the 60s uh there was actually nothing nothing that is worth mentioning at all um now that i’m saying that i’m contradicting myself in my head because there’s a fun little story in between but whatever that’s not important no but um like like no interesting films were being made and then the the new german film came and uh what so these these expressionist films were really big productions like those were major blockbusters um and then the the new german film they started out as kind of independent and then they actually pushed for uh state-sponsored filmmaking um i think most european countries have some kind of model like that in germany that became the only mode available for financing a professional production so while we officially do not have censorship you cannot produce anything that doesn’t get approved off by a board that does not have to uh explain itself they can they they can just say yes or no and that’s it they don’t need to explain why they don’t want uh some things and uh i i mean while while faspina was alive and uh did his thing apparently that worked kind of kind of well then later on there would be institutions like the hamburg film bureau where filmmakers like christoph lindsey who was more recent and and sort of a sort of uh uh sort of interesting avant-garde filmmaker um he would get money uh there so there would be these these these little instances of of institutions where you could get this uh state-sponsored money and make uh make interesting movies with that but right now we are in a situation where it’s actually uh the system is very very stale uh i think internationally uh you always uh um you will you will hear about about like one film every five years and those will be really standout productions but those do not have anything to do with the actual german film industry if you work here um you probably won’t have worked on those films um the things we work on uh are very very different uh it’s it’s all it all has to go through the uh state television and um well there’s uh there’s problems with it and and especially this uh there’s not much creativity in that um in that there are reasons for that uh but but but that goes too far uh but but yeah genre pictures for example do not get produced in germany um and uh many people inside the german film industry get sort of restless and uh frustrated i personally have have worked professionally in german film and tv for about 10 years now and i have not met one person who was happy with what they were producing not one person who said i would personally watch what i uh earn money on um all those people will go around and and that’s why uh those people are available for no and low budget productions because everybody like every camera guy i know wants to make a horror film uh to to sort of do something interesting with the camera for once um so uh

there is the uh we we’re not the only ones in germany who want to do something like that there is a certain restlessness and i mean that’s why there has been this tiny tiny mini movement that we have like we will there are i i don’t know five or six filmmakers or all around northern germany who you could roughly uh count as as part of uh the the new hamburg school and we actually do uh share um pretty striking similarities in style and tone um and so so yeah we obviously we all want to do something genre adjacent and yeah so there is this restlessness but on the other hand um not only all film production is centralized but also every film festival and every cinema needs state funding to to exist so if you have a movie that is not made with state approval you will not get into those uh at all so what uh this whole diy thing enables us to do for the first time in germany actually because also the the new the new german film they were also funded uh from some point on is to be actually independent to have an actual uh independent film movement um yeah and i think that that that’s the that’s the that’s one of the most distinctive things of the stuff we’re doing i guess yeah okay that’s really informative thank you lars um yes it’s uh you we don’t hear about this so much do we have fear beyond an industry or um you know those of us who are receiving say german art films and independent films or what we think of as and i mean no film is independent but they’re called that aren’t they um you know if we’re watching them say here in the uk um we would just assume that that’s what it’s like over there we don’t know all of that enzonites and who’s actually on the ground working on those films and are they making the work they want to make so that’s really an informative opinion to hear for sure um and i’m just thinking as well because um you mentioned you distribution and screening opportunities um so that must be a real point of frustration but then the world is so global now with the these um you know these virtual technologies that you have you do seem to have done really quite well and getting out there and maybe the festivals that you’re getting into seem quite small but that you’re getting to them and you have that reach and you have these global audiences that’s amazing um but i’m really interested as well in those very domesticated screening arrangements that you have i mean it’s very harks back to experimental cinema you know and it makes me think of the new york scene in the 1960s where everybody was watching everything in each other’s attic spaces and things you know it’s um so you’ve got that sort of lineage there as well with um experimental or underground type filmmaking that connects sheets all these other artists so that’s just how they had to do it as well

just um just wanted to add something it’s uh really funny that that you mentioned the new york scene in the 60s because like i think two days ago we were talking about it that that was uh this should have been the time uh we should have lived in new york during the 60s 70s that would be our time well uh i i have to boast for a second uh because because you mentioned it uh there is uh i i i mentioned christoph lindsey before who was a really uh like for me he was a big influence he was this this avant-garde filmmaker who um is revered in germany now that he’s dead and before he was really hated and he was like a fonterrible and a really funny guy and uh he would be making these really experimental avant-garde films and one of his main co-er his main collaborators um was actually he used to be a persecutor um in in hamburg he used to persecute uh nazi war criminals um and then he retired and became an actor in those experimental films he would visit our offseason underground film festival and once he said well this is just like it was back in the 70s yes yes we printed that on on on posters and stuff for a while because i was so proud he also played uh in our projects he uh he played himself in a web series we shot yes yes right and he played a role in in in the comedy i made before yeah yeah cool that sounds really awesome um i was thinking as well um nissan if i could come to you for a moment as well because i was thinking about uh your character in leon mustai and what you were saying about um you know your position as somebody from a turkish background and i mean there’s a history of this in german cinema as well isn’t there with them you know back in the 70s and so on the 60s and 70s with turkish migrant workers who were brought into germany um and fassbender’s films you know try to deal with that quite a bit um and you’re from a very different you turkish german background as i understand and it’s a much more contemporary i suppose version of being a turkish person in germany um if that makes sense and um and it’s you know it’s i don’t know i just think i’m really very interested in you know that frustration you’ve had with being typecast as you were saying and you how you’ve taken that taken this by the horns really and tried to carve out another way of well i can’t maybe can’t get the rules but if i make the rules that are different and i can be any other sort of character yeah um you know and then i was thinking about this character from the future you who’s slightly otherworldly but only very slightly because she is over than she is of you know she’s just she’s just from the future you know and and what happens with her um so i was wondering if you would be happy to to talk us to a bit more of that because it’s really i think it’s a really important issue you know to be fair to you know that um you because i think with a lot of us in you know sort of white western societies we’re doing this too much to people and people are just people you know wherever they’ve come from and whatever their background is you know and it’s um i don’t know it feels very political what you think is it maybe you’re doing it for fun but it i think i feel like it’s a political statement at the same time you know it feels quite powerful to me yeah uh it absolutely is um i i can uh quick uh short um tell my story well um i uh i i there there is a turkish there is a big turkish community in germany um i think the biggest minority community is the turkish community and most of them are gast abbayta which i would translate guest workers they were i mean brought in as workers for i think in the 70s yeah i think just as you said yeah like also in in fast binders movie

i think he was also a guest guest worker yeah but still um and

my story is completely different i was born in istanbul in a big city very very big western city and i i didn’t know about minorities i mean in istanbul in turkey there are minorities which are the kurdish people armenian people and um i i i didn’t know anything about um oppression i mean i was a child and the turkish people are in turkey the people who oppress so like my status in turkey is i’m a white person there so of course my parents my family is very leftist so of course i i know i learned what’s wrong and what’s right in their world but i i i didn’t know as a child what what it is um to be oppressed even though i knew it was wrong what the turkish people are doing because my father said so so my mom is a translator and um it’s it’s a very stupid story but it is how it was my mom is a translator and she translates the book by philip roth maybe you’ve heard of him and in the book the main character is a jewish gay boy i think and he’s an atheist also and he’s um in his teenage years so it’s also he has sexual thoughts um and she just translated it and so she had she was um she had issues because she translated this book in in turkish from english to turkish and um i mean she was not about to go to jail but because we were like from upper class i say now with uh um

she could have a lawyer to get herself out but she had like really problems and i didn’t understood as a child but um it was like not really serious but i think it um it made her really angry that she said she thought herself she doesn’t want to live in this country anymore and she doesn’t want me to grew up in a country where you get um problems with the um police and not police with the law for translating a book because about because uh you write a you translate a story of of a boy who is gay and who’s jewish um so i think it was also about principles i think it uh so she she just did it she took me and we um came we fled out of these political reasons to germany and i i don’t know how she did it because like when i was little i was so angry at her because i had this huge culture shock and this huge racism i i didn’t um maybe i was too spoiled i i didn’t expect that because i i don’t want to say that it’s different in turkey it’s different for in my shoes in turkey but in turkey people are being oppressed too but um for me it was i couldn’t handle it and i was really angry at her for a really long time during puberty because maybe i also i was a teenager and i need to i needed to be angry um but now i’m i’m gonna be 30 in a month and now i i don’t know how she did it like all by herself um fleeing to a country she doesn’t even know the language and she doesn’t have any help um and she did it and she accomplished it and i wanted to do art movies theater even back when i was a little child in turkey i this enter all those interests um i don’t know it’s developed when i was six seven so it was always the plan i always watched movies um with my dad i went to the theater with my dad with my mom and i i went to a child acting school in istanbul so it was always the plan but when i um moved to germany um first i had to learn new language um second we were like because we were um immigrants we were refugees we couldn’t choose where we want to live so i was from this big city and um suddenly we were in a small town in a village um where the racism and stuff is way worse than in a big city i think maybe it wouldn’t be that bad if we would i don’t know go immediately to berlin or hamburg i don’t know but um that was really uh i just now i can laugh about all those stuff but i just wasn’t expecting it i just had this culture shock and um and my mom was also she accomplished it that we were legal here and then she went like um on a depression because she was like all by herself and uh had to learn language and i don’t know it was harder than maybe we expected or maybe we didn’t expect anything we just wanted to flee so i had as a teenager so many problems living in this village

but it was the plan so when i was 17 i said to my mom um i mean she said that to me for years we have to leave this um this village so uh i um i went to the acting school and with her together we moved to hamburg and then things started to get better for me also um so i was happy about being finally in a bigger city and finally with more people who are maybe more interested in art or creative stuff um but and i think i i um for that i was i think with 1819 i had my first role and i started working really young and um and on my own and i’m also proud of that and like the first years i thought okay um it’s not that great uh to play the headscarf lady again and i mean the thing is those roles are very cliche written and very um discriminated without knowing they they think they they the writers are mostly 60 plus uh white men who german men who who don’t um even i don’t know i i think if you write a story about immigrants then you should um be an immigrant you should you can’t tell yeah i mean i i couldn’t tell uh the story of i don’t know of of someone who suffers something i i i couldn’t understand or it doesn’t even have to uh be about suffering it’s you know so um first i thought okay i’m young i’m in the beginning and um i will have to play those roles and then i will get something better and um something i i i feel more fulfilled about and then i was working working working in this business and i thought okay but i don’t watch anything i like so uh there are of course um maybe two three movies or uh one two three german stuff i i like but it’s very rare and um and i thought okay if i can’t find something as an audience i i i love as an audience um which was made now not 100 years ago and then maybe this is it i’m stuck in this turkish muslim roles because i don’t see any non-white actors playing roles without being commented on that they are um non-white uh so yeah that’s that’s the that’s the whole story and and then we did together all these unique stuff and they must die um you’re right since you uh mentioned this i’m my role in leon must die during shooting the scenes i remember we always um came with stuff like there’s the scene when when she drinks beer for the first time leon gives her beer and she doesn’t know what it is because you don’t have that in the future and i don’t know if it was on purpose but there were so many tiny little stuff we came up on set um i i know that feeling i mean of course in turkey you have beer or anything you also have in germany but what i know is what happens a lot because 10 years is is a big part of your development most people in my age who were immigrants they were born here or they came here with three or four when you’re 10 you are almost a teenager you are you know some of your pop culture and blah and i have this all the time where like my friends talk about something relevant um 20 years ago and they all laugh and i don’t know what they’re talking about because the first 10 years of my life i watched turkish tv i read and of course we all know american pop culture british pop culture because in europe we all know english-speaking stuff but the german stuff i don’t know i don’t know the songs i don’t understand the uh the tv uh child tv series so uh this is maybe what i have with aqua and in common that we are from a different world and some stuff we will not get oh thank you for that fascinating um large do you have anything to add to any of that any thoughts or um i mean i could i could only uh add my um my own thoughts on the um uh the the the kind of racist type casting that goes on on german television but i mean you you you mentioned that like there’s there would be anecdotes to tell like just the other day uh we we heard about this uh film that was about uh like a a turkish woman growing up in in in germany and then going to turkey for the first time and and uh in in turkey that would be like this this desert village because we all know turks live in uh uncultivated desert villages and uh that leading role was played by german actress and it’s just like all of that is just so so wrong and such in such stupid ways that i think come on guys it’s 2021 where have you been these past at least 20 years like uh if if you haven’t paid attention to fastbinder who i think did a great job of uh empathizing with those stories and and and and uh telling an aspect of that that he could understand um like if if if you haven’t seen what he what he was doing like at least all the worlds has been discussing this for for um yeah 10 to 20 years now so why um are we so far behind um but i mean that would just add to frustrations we’re happy we’re doing something else i think yeah that’s it well yeah let’s focus on that then i mean would you like to to talk through how how do you start a film project like leon mustai you know how do you get together and figure out those characters and who they’re going to be and because leon has his own complexities as well in that film for example you know and then um the group of young women in the in the other film i’m worried about getting um you know the titles a bit mangled pronunciation but um you know the the the backgrounds that they’re all they’re all coming from you know because they’re doing community service in the forest and that sort of thing you know where where do these characters come from and how do you all work together to create them um i’m i’m i’m gonna um yeah i’m gonna go first yeah okay i’m gonna go first because because i mostly write the uh scripts uh i um i work very closely with uh the actors uh for all of them um when we were developing leon i think nissan and i had just started hanging out again and um i don’t know i i was thinking about how to do a lo-fi science fiction science fiction project i was still having i was still dreaming about getting into cinemas and making something that that that would sort of translate to to a wider audience so i was thinking about how how can i use genre to do that uh and um so so that was that was on my mind and then i think we just had a really long uh about death because that’s um that’s the fun guy i am and i basically just took that conversation which was really long and turned it into a script so um there would be these two characters in its center which i think aqua is nissan and leon is not me but um there would be a lot of this stuff in there that we that we had discussed um and uh so so that that’s how that sort of came about so so so i in that sense worked with with nissan to um to to to to come up with it all and then uh for bear kittens um and later perfomaniacs actually uh we started working with this acting school like nissan said and um that was uh i i was um i was a uh i was a teacher there um and uh i got sort of bored with with teaching acting and not doing anything so um i started developing characters with the with the students um and i had originally planned this was nissan’s idea too um to make short films with them so they could use that for the demo reels uh and and in case of the bad kittens group we quickly realized all right this is this is not a short film um this is this is possibly a feature and uh yeah i mean they they came up with their characters uh they would i had different um different different uh exercises to to to improvise and to come up with with uh characters into intuitively plus uh with characters that would fit them and would be what they would need in a demo reel too um and then would i i would have them improvise with each other and come up with scenes and then slowly we would all see all right this is a possible setting like all the characters you came up with would probably do community service at some point they’re all pretty anti-social um and and then we would we would put the characters in situations together and see how do these interact and then we would think all right you two make an interesting comedic duo so let’s think about that and i think we had half a year uh that it was really looks luxurious in in uh in yes we had half a year of just playing around and then i would go and and have seen all this stuff they would have come up with themselves and then i would just write the script according to that and um it was more compressed with with the next thing we did with that school with pepfo maniacs but it’s really similar too then we made a a web series together uh also called the acting students we worked a lot with that school to fund our projects um uh where we would have uh them improvise all their or their dialogue on on set and then i would just go okay now that thing you said was funny do that again um so yeah from from this very close work with uh the actors on uh on their characters and dialogue i think um i mean i like that and i like the results yeah me too thank you brilliant stuff um yeah so i mean i’ve only managed to see trailers of a lot of the films i haven’t managed to see them entirely but yes it comes across that you yeah i don’t know there’s just um i think i i quite like that there’s a lot of emphasis on on the female characters and they don’t feel like necessarily that the stereotypes you know they’re they are quite rounded and that there’s personalities coming through um and it seems that you have you talk about gen uh about genre and it seems that the films have genre mash up so they’re very clearly they’re this and they’re this and there’s uh you know i don’t know if it’s a clash if that’s the right word but they they match quite maybe i don’t know violently or it just depends but there’s there’s something very clearly right this is a comedy and it’s sci-fi you know or this is a dance film and it might go into horror as well you know and um and i mean those aren’t necessarily you know that that exists in the world but you know there’s something a little bit just a different direction that you’re going in so i think i suppose if people um we’ll put up the links with show notes and things and on our socials and just send people to go and watch them for themselves and see what they think um you know are those are those interactions with genre are those very conscious um or you know you what you you tell me what you’re doing with those

because you write the script okay um yes and no uh i but by now it’s all very conscious um but i used to start from a point where i thought i’m gonna write uh mostly a horror movie now um and it’s gonna be really really creepy but then uh i am most interested i think in in characters and uh characters interacting and um i always find a lot of humor in that and i like when the characters are funny so then a straight horror film becomes sort of a difficulty um like when we when we made uh performaniacs i think uh watching it now it’s it’s hard to believe that i did set out to make a scary horror film and then i was on set and i that there was a moment where i realized i’m on set of a horror film and i’m just rearranging the actresses so uh their interaction will be more funny what am i doing here um because i don’t know um like like most most genre conventions sort of um uh sort of push you to emphasize on on plot more than on character um and i love plots but i i think i love character more and i like to to go with the um with whatever comes from the characters and so uh from there um i always tend to leave the genre boundaries somewhat yeah

i suppose with you nissan for you it’s more playing those characters and bringing them to life and how does that feel for you i mean i know we spoke quite a bit earlier but um you know are you achieving that difference that you want to achieve do you think with the characters um you mean the difference between me and the characters

so that uh different from the sorts of rules you would get in a more industrial setting yeah for example when we made the series the big project we talked about

first the plan was i’m gonna play one of the main roles and i’m not gonna do anything else but then we did everything so i was playing one of the main roles and i was also organizing like everything behind the set and i thought okay i’m not going to be able to act i’m not going to be able to be good at it and i was kind of frustrated but um because i was also production production-wise so into this project i knew like the script by heart i i knew everything i knew the lines of everyone and myself and i knew because we were also going through the script so many times we changed so many stuff we showed it to so many different people and we um listened to so many different people and uh i think during that process i understood the story and the character i hope so well do because of all my production work that i i was the role for these two years i i feel like i was also um once we finished this the series i um i was it was we both uh went into like black hall for a couple months and um and i was thinking about it that uh i i was a little bit like the role during this two years because uh i i was um i don’t know maybe i i was a little bit childish during this two years because she was way younger than me and like she was this punky teenager and i feel like i acted like a angry punky teenager during the years because i was so mad at everything uh during production so i think it happened uh without being on purpose but um like the uh the german industry jobs i get um it depends uh most of the time as we said they don’t want creativity you you get the script like a week ago and um sometimes it can also happen that that that they changed the script like two days ago you just have to learn it really fast and i’m really sorry but most of the time those scripts are really shallow and i don’t even think i don’t even mean it personal i don’t even think that the writers are so bad or whatever i just think that everyone has to work on a system and there are uh rules and also as an actor i think on a more creative stage or film project i’m better than on these projects i don’t want to attack anyone personally but those scripts are very shallow and there’s nothing in it to you know um so i i give my best on those projects too because i i like to um i always like playing i don’t care even if i think this is [ __ ] i like i i have my fun um it doesn’t frustrate me that much like the networking the uh everything around that but there is a huge difference if uh if i play a role which i uh believe in it and if i play a role because i i have fun and i need some money and uh oh i i’m being the turkish gangster daughter oh i’m going to be the suffering headscarf girl uh it’s fun but it’s you know it doesn’t mean like everything so yeah okay great um well gosh you’re you’re both working so hard on everything um is there anything else that you would really like to use this opportunity to talk about or to put out into the world um is there anything you want us to know about about what you’re doing um yeah i think uh i mean there’s so much uh stuff the movies we are of course happy if uh people go and watch it they’re all on amazon prime uh the first three leon must die bergtons and perfomaniacs also we made another another future during lockdown with three actors and christiane and we will release it this year and i think it’s gonna be really good uh but like our main main heart project is the series f60 kamikaze is the name it cost our um three years of our lives it’s it’s still costing it um many many many people helped us like without being paid because we didn’t have money for the project me and glass had like credits for uh took credits for this project so we can make it happen we are in deep depth and there are like i don’t know i think 100 people behind f60 kamikaz so it’s not only about us there are so many people uh who who deserves it and um there were so many doors which were closed shut right into our face we tried like everything to um to find a place for this project and as we told before we are working right now on it to to publish it as soon as we can but we also want it to be great um so just i don’t know people who listen to this should google f60 kamikaze immediately and once it’s published go watch it i think uh it’s i think it’s gonna be really really good yeah yeah uh i i we always have so many things going on so it’s always hard to to to point people to to all of them um i have recently quit social media and started my own website it’s http://www.lasthenrix in and uh everything we do basically is is collected there there’s uh the movies and um i i write there daily because i’m a nerd um and also we’ve just started uh a podcast in english uh just a couple weeks ago it’s called mysterium pictorium and it’s on the last henrik’s podcast international because i’m a narcissist um where i collect all the all the uh english language podcast projects we ever do uh last hendrix podcast international it’s on all the all the platforms uh platforms and we have uh we have this yeah english language podcast where once a week we watch a movie um i once found a hard drive uh containing 300 weird obscure mostly arthouse movies and we’re going through that hard drive watching uh one movie per week and then talking about it yeah we plucked a lot here yeah i want to do a mashup of our podcasts doing something like that that would be fun yeah definitely definitely can we can send you the list of films uh coming up and if you like any one of them just just tell us and then we’ll uh yeah we’ll we’ll do a cooperative episode i’d love that yeah we’d love that too awesome to you right right now i’d love to do that sounds great

oh thank you both so much that’s great it’s great to have your website as well lars and i’ll make sure that’s in our show notes and i’ll send people that way and i’ll make sure i send the links because um apart from anything you need the support and filmmakers like you really need the support so everybody go and watch these films they’re they’re really not expensive on amazon as well that you know if you’ve got prime i guess and you’ll be able to access them easily enough too um well so i think in the unless there’s anything else um lars henrik’s and nissan arakan i can’t thank you enough this has been such a fun r talking to you and i’ve learned loads and it’s been so lovely to meet you just thank you both so much for being so generous with your time and your ideas thank you so much for having us likewise thank you so much for your time and everything yeah yeah and really good luck with all your projects thank you thank you and i’m really looking forward to our collaboration on yeah victorium yeah let’s say it yeah


Audiovisual Cultures episode 82 – Film and Video Production with Justin McAleece automated transcript

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this is audiovisual cultures the podcast that explores different areas of the arts and cultural production with me paula blair visit forward slash av cultures to find out more and to join the pod i am really pleased to be joined across the atlantic and very far across the whole continent by justin mcelis hello justin how are you i’m doing excellent how are you today i’m good thank you you’re going to talk to us about your work in directing and cinematography is that right yeah absolutely there’s quite a lot of areas we can get into it’d be interesting to think about the relationship or maybe the differences between working for yourself and being someone for hire in film and television and you work across quite a lot of media don’t you yeah exactly there’s a lot of different types of videos we do for a lot of different types of clients and sometimes it’s we are the client so yeah just like you’re saying depending on who’s your boss there’s a variety of reasons you would want it to be one way or the other the sorts of work that you do we’re talking music videos commercials for television feature-length films and you work across different genres i’ve seen you you’ve done some documentary and mockumentary yeah exactly and then um i would add to that uh a lot of what we do is corporate video production so that’s a lot of that’s talking heads you know we go to a company and they have some new information about some new products or new things that they’re moving into different sectors within their company that sort of thing and we we talk to them and do interviews and b-roll so a lot of what we do ends up being that which is great because they have a story to tell and we can get it out there and those oftentimes you know for anyone who’s looking to go into video production i would never ignore that because they have some money to spend they know what they want they’re generally not what would you say everything’s not writing on that one video whereas when you do say like a local commercial for a company that’s a huge deal to them and then they you’re much more worried that they’re gonna get every dime out of it whereas if you’re working for a fortune 500 company and they’re putting together a video that’s just one of many things that they’re gonna do and so there’s a little less pressure to guarantee things that you can’t really guarantee when you’re talking about local commercials it’s a little bit of a different situation in that regard gosh that’s really interesting yes i don’t think i’ve ever spoken to somebody who makes corporate videos and these would be something that would be contained within the company is that right yeah some are internal some are external it sort of depends what it is a lot of things we’re doing these days because the covate is internal to whereas we are making something just to show to all the shareholders or all the employees they’re all at a company meeting that they would normally have in person but now they’re not doing that so that’s a lot of what it has been recently just this year but in general it’s forward-facing it’s out on youtube on their web page there are a lot of them are explainer videos you know to where a sales person takes it out or would you mail it to people and they’re like well what do you do and we’re like well here’s a three minute video showing you exactly what we do so we specialize in that and i think that’s pretty useful do you think that sort of format is very different in production from the other kinds of work that you do i think that there are parallels in just about everything we do i you get to take more artistic license certainly on say a music video or your own short film where you do anything you want but you know that’s the double-edged sword of anything creative is when you get all the ability to do whatever you want then it is much harder to make a decision you get that option paralysis which tends to be an issue whereas when you’re working with a client or let’s say you have an agency and then you’re working with a video production company inside of that agency and then they have a client then a lot of the decisions are already made for you in sort of a freeing sort of way it’s the opposite of what you would think sometimes it’s a little bit counterintuitive you know they’ve already decided what’s gonna happen how it’s gonna happen who the people are what the props are all that stuff you get to go in there and optimize that so you know exactly what your sandbox is whereas when you’re making something for yourself who knows what the sandbox could be and so it gets a little overwhelming at times i think there are definitely good things about both or any of the different ways you know within that that you could be able to do work and do good work i imagine that variety really keeps things interesting you wouldn’t get bored easily yeah it helps me because it is a bit taxing to be able to do all your own stuff because then there’s no one on the line but you and you know and you have to do soup to nuts on everything and then you just get tired at the end of the day and there’s a lot more chance for them uh what do you want to say maybe imposter syndrome or or thinking like what am i even doing here this sucks and no one’s gonna see this for a while this is a mess you know whereas if you’re doing it for someone else then after every shot they’re like oh that was good let’s move on to the next one you’re like good accomplished i did it something’s great we can move on you know it’s just a different idea yeah it’d be good to talk about your your work involved with music because you do make a lot of music videos and you’ve made music documentaries um would you be happy to talk us through some of that please and maybe similarities and differences and maybe working with musicians and collaboration yeah absolutely music videos are fun because all bets are off in a lot of ways you have a lot more room for creativity they also often are longer days or more complicated days you’re trying to get trying to fit more things into less time a lot of times sometimes you’re dealing with people who have never done a video before so this might be the first time that an artist is venturing into this which can get a little complicated and they have something in their mind that might not actually pan out on screen you’re also dealing with the fact that you want to do something original and what do you want to say you want to break the mold with these people but you also can’t really do that because you have to fit within the certain criteria of what they think a music video should be and a lot of times a lot of music in general is people finally getting to the point where they could produce the thing that they liked 10 years ago that’s the reason a lot of music feels like you may have heard it before just because you a lot of people grow up liking songs or you know in when they were 20 or whatever they had their favorite band and then 30 and then 10 years later maybe they were able to actually make that same music so you end up in a situation where not only are they producing music that is somewhat similar maybe their own twist on it of something that had come before but they also probably want the video of the thing that they had seen at the time but just slightly updated so there’s some dynamics at play there that are a little complicated because you want to do something brand new but you also want to do something that harkens back to what that music is to the rest of the people who would be listening to that song so you have a there’s a lot of requirements in in making a music video to make it fresh but classical you know you’re always arguing with yourself between those two things and there’s a lot of things you can do visually to get those accomplished um you’re also trying to get the artists themselves front and center you know having a very what you would say a very concept-y video i don’t know if you’ve ever seen a tool video for instance but you don’t really see tool the band in any of the tool videos and it’s all this claymation and all this other stuff that may work for certain bands but it’s not going to work for a lot of them who just this might be their only time to get in front of the camera so you’re beholden to a lot of things while making a music video that you wouldn’t maybe think that you were you’re like well just go do this thing it’ll be easy and it’s it’s a little more complicated than that moving from those short form types of films and videos to something longer form so the likes of music documentaries and you’ve made one um the art of organized noise is that right yeah exactly so i wasn’t the director on that i was the i was one of the cinematographers but that was a lot of fun we got to do a lot in a very short amount of time which was great because documentaries can often consume a lot of time but we were able to knock out a bunch of interviews we ended up shooting about half of it maybe more than that of the final documentary in a short amount of time which was great and we met some famous people and we heard some just really interesting stories something that i didn’t understand how that part of the business worked i didn’t know the stories behind any of those songs you know there’s a couple very famous songs certainly outcast the rap group out of the dirty south out of georgia and atlanta they’re a big part of that story the first song that they did was the song waterfalls by tlc that was their first one that hit big so everyone sort of knows that song yeah and it was a great place to be they have this place called the dungeon and it was just pretty fascinating so working on something like that you know we go in there and we try to get as much as we can we try to make it look to have a certain vibe throughout so we picked some gels you know to get a little technical we like we fell into some specific colors that we wanted that stuff to be and made it a little moodier than i would normally shoot maybe and had it more shadowy more saturated more punchy than some things we end up doing and you know that looks totally different than a commercial you would put on tv but you try to get some gravity out of the out of the visuals and out of the cinematography that you’re putting into it and hopefully that connects with the viewer and it feels maybe something like that they had seen before out of another band or group or rap artist that they had seen tour they can be like oh i get it this is like the same level if not bigger than that like this makes sense to me i understand what i’m watching and why i’m watching it that’s what you’re always trying to do you’re trying to put people in a place and connect with something that they a shared experience previously and then twist it on its head a little bit that’s sort of the role of a storyteller remind them of something that they already are familiar with so that you can pull it take it back twist it and give it back to them to where they feel like it’s new do you find that if you’re working as a cinematographer there’s a difference between working in fiction or something more structured and planned any differences between that and a documentary where you’re filming really in the moment and it’s a live event that you’re capturing do you think there are differences or is it you do what you’re told to do or how much license do you have typically we have a decent amount of license i would say you know in terms of how it’s lit and what the overall approach is a lot of that’s being decided ahead of time though hopefully when you get on set a lot of your decisions are already made because you’ve made them with the producer the director the writer whoever happens to be and you already know what you’re trying to accomplish and i mean really that’s what it comes down to it’s not like oh what do i want to do in this situation that’s like a very fourth tier sort of concept you want to be like what serves the story what will help the director accomplish the most amount of information in the least amount of time and really that’s what you’re trying to do david fincher american director has a quote you know like basically my job as a director is deciding what information to give out when and that’s really what directing is about and by proxy that’s what cinematography is about is putting people with a sense of what the context is what the vital information about a frame is and where to lead their eye and how to feel about it subconsciously without even attempting to tell them why they feel about a certain way with the actors or the dialogue or the action or any of that stuff just like you know one second in you’re like oh i get what this is you know so that’s really what you’re attempting to do in all cases i don’t know if i answered your question exactly but you know that that’s our job no that’s really useful i think you have been working on projects quite recently haven’t you are you seeing any real differences in the current climate with things i mean i don’t know how exactly how things are with you you’re in california is that right yeah in the uk we’re on quite a major lock line at the moment with kovitz i don’t know how things are we we hear not great things about the us but um but all the states are different i think so yeah what’s going on no they definitely get to choose their own path in a lot of ways we are somewhat locked down you know a lot of the things are still not open a lot of businesses it is not life as usual by any stretch of the imagination but what we’re able to do is go out and shoot with small crews with masks with taking precautions making sure that we got antibacterial stuff standing by you know once we do that we’re in decent shape i haven’t been on any sets where anyone’s been sick and i haven’t heard of anyone being sick related to those sets that i’ve had anything to do with so we we have a 100 track record as far as i can tell so far which is pretty great and yeah as long as you’re careful as long as you’re wearing your mask as long as you’re being aware of all the criteria then i think it’s okay we’ve definitely been doing other stuff than we normally would we’ve done a bit more live stuff live switching between multiple cameras we’ve done more like uh like i was saying the ceo comes on he does a stand-up we’re gonna do on something on thursday tomorrow of uh someone you know being there and just talking to the rest of the company basically and so the types of things we’ve shot has changed a bit and we’re not doing any big movies that either were some things that we had planned on doing that we can’t do yet but we we should be engaged in one of those in uh february march that i’m very much looking forward to so we’ll see as the timing changes how that all develops but yeah it’s a weird world out there could i ask you as well about your production company it’s blair media that’s right just uh a bit of background about how you go about establishing such a company and what people’s roles are that sort of thing sure yeah so we’ve been blur media for about 15 years now it’s been quite a while we 2005 2004 somewhere in there we started it is a lot of work to keep a video production company going especially at first it gets easier as it goes along i think as with most things it’s important you know you got to think of it as a normal startup of anything it’s like you have to put in a ton of time to do everything you can do it yourself a lot of times you know you don’t get to hire other editors or other people doing data like one thing that has changed over my time is not having to worry about all the hard drive stuff as much as i used to because i have other people doing that so having someone maybe not solely focused on that but being able to make sure that all that stuff is getting done properly saves me from having to be there every sunday night until 2 a.m worried about where all the data is and what hard drives it’s on and all these other things so that’s definitely in video production when you’re producing just an incredible amount of data that’s something to be aware of much like it is to be aware of your taxes and your accounting stuff you know those are things that i’m not that’s not my job per se but i have to worry about it as a small business owner and so getting people from the start and getting that ironed out as much as possible from the start i think we made some mistakes here and there of not maybe it’s just one of those things you could put on the back burner like we have a shoot we have a shoe we have a shoe we have shoot six months down the line you’re like oh we should have been worried about this thing a little bit more and making sure that we had our priorities straight into terms of that but it’s always a push pull you know you’re trying to make a buck so that you can pay the man so you can pay out your people so that you can give them more money and there are a lot of contingencies there that all have to fall in place simultaneously to have a successful company so you’re always fighting for that it’s a long road but i think once you establish it well enough then it does sort of become self-perpetuating to an extent which is great good great stuff it’d be really great now to turn to the really big project that you’ve had for a while of your own brick madness and to talk a bit about your film i mean so you’ve done so much work where you’re working for other people but is it right that this is really your baby this one yeah definitely my baby along with the some of my other friends and family but yeah 2009 we’re on the set of another movie we were thinking that we really wanted to do one of our own things in our inaudible hubris we’re saying that like hey this should be easy we’ll get this done in a few weeks we’ll show everyone else how easy it is and simple it’s going to be to make a feature film and that was 11 years ago and so here we are with the movie it has finally been distributed we entered into pre-sales a couple weeks ago december 22nd it will be on amazon and so really excited about that shortly thereafter it will be on the other assorted s foreign all the other stuff that you would normally find movies on it’ll be in a bunch of those places so we’re looking forward to that it’s a comedy it’s a 99 minute comedy about a national lego tournament in our world we call them bricks so it’s a mockumentary it’s a fake documentary and we had a just an incredible fun time doing it i think it shows up on screen i think the ebullience of our participation in it with my friends and family i think i really got something out of it i hope they feel the same way and we’ve really heard from other people watching like it feels like a documentary i did another podcast a couple weeks ago and one of the guys there’s two hosts on and he called up the other host after watching part of the movie and he’s like he was canadian he’s like this is a real this is an actual documentary right the other guy’s like no no it’s a fake documentary it’s all made up and he’s like my mind is bl nerd my head’s bleeding dude there’s no way this has to be a real thing he’s like no it’s all made up no no way so i was like that’s cool i’m really glad that they got that sort of um impression out of it that it could have been real that it could have been you know actual people doing these actual quirky weird things with their life i’m real proud of that and i’ve heard that before it’s fun it’s entertaining and we put a lot of time into it so we want people out there to watch it and enjoy it i think it’s you know i stand fully behind it and i’m like no this is a fun movie not just because i made it but i think i would like it regardless so there’s that yeah you made something that you want to watch yourself yeah tarantino said that you know that someone asked him like what’s your favorite movie and he said the one i just made that’s why i made it so i think there’s a little bit of a little bit of wisdom in in that and like why would you be making something that you didn’t want to see you know that seems stupid that’s not saying it’s the best that’s just saying it’s my favorite i think that’s a fun place to be at least recently there’s been a documentary series on netflix about the history of gaming i can’t remember what it’s called now but um it’s really really good there are episodes where the arcades got really popular and there are these massive tournaments and it reminded me of that actually the footage that they showed of that of all these kids piling into these venues to start playing arcade games in tournaments yeah i’ve i haven’t clicked on that i have a nasty habit of not wanting to see anyone do what i’m doing before i’m fully done with it that sort of thing and i get a lot of uh the resentment rages in me when i’m like oh man my thing’s not done yet but this thing’s even better ah screw you guys so sometimes i don’t watch stuff like that i try to watch stuff that’s like totally different from what i’m doing but yeah that’s such as the life of an artist or maybe it’s just me i don’t know but it’s always rough to see your babies being reared by other people other parents i guess is what it is but yeah i know about that show i definitely i think i clicked on it for about 30 seconds one time i was like oh this looks cool i’ll watch that later it’s a good one but yeah this tournament’s really um reminded me of that and it’s interesting because that was really new technology that they’re yeah and it’s archival um footage whereas with bricks and you’re dealing with lego you know this is something that’s been around for decades now and the enthusiasm of that and the characters and the hubris and you know the excitement and the it’s just fun you know they’re they’re into it it’s their own thing they love being a part of it and it’s their whole world to them i think anytime you can take you can dissect life and really find something that you feel like is your world and you’re a part of it and you’re meant to be there and you can participate in it without fear of reprisal from anyone around you i like that’s just a great thing and so you know the idea of nerd or geek or you know whatever that happens to be it’s like that’s such a silly concept in a lot of ways and we try to sort of dispel that stuff within it and get to the heart of what people like and why they like it and furthermore like this is just an art form it’s just an art form like anything else like painting or guitar you know learning to write music or learning to write a story like it’s all those are all various forms of expressing your soul through a medium um hopefully amy that’s the transcendent version of it and this is the exact same thing they just happen to be using a quote unquote toy but then you’re like well that seems like a double whammy then that’s awesome not only do you get to be artistic and do something that allows you to express yourself but you get to use a toy while doing it and it’s fun and colorful and interesting and like inherently like you get to collect the things you love while doing the art while using a toilet like it’s a really pretty brilliant field and i think that speaks to why it’s so popular and it’s something that involves skill it never really thought of like it was being competitive before but and it’s not really like that’s sort of our spin on it you know i mean you have to have a winner and a loser in a movie like this but they do some competitions and obviously like they have these other tv shows that are out now fox did a whole series about it and so that’s a whole other twist on what we had done sort of before that obviously which another they’re like oh you’ve seen that show and i was like screw that show i don’t want to watch that show yet wait till the movie is out and i made a million dollars then maybe i’ll watch that show but yeah that’s how it is what about your creative decisions did you want to have it as something fly on the wall where it’s just observational and coming across as if they’re not aware of the camera or is it a kind of thing they’re very aware of the camera and they’re performing to it a bit you know how is that because i’ve just seen short clips of it so far yeah sure i mean we were trying to go you gotta remember we were shooting this around 2012 a lot of the footage came from 2011 2012 era so we were approaching it i would say in the way that the office is shot at least the american version of the office to where there’s some characters that play the camera occasionally so you know like how jim would look at the camera and he he is aware that is it is there but most of the time it’s just sort of happening and i think what we try to do we were really at least i was i mean really critically aware of the idea that like we don’t want to put a camera where it can’t be we don’t want to listen to a conversation that we wouldn’t be able to hear we don’t want to be in a place where as filmmakers we would have no reason to be there so we were definitely trying to fix that as we went along and there were a number of times where like it would be so easy in a real movie just to solve this thing right here like all you would have to do is show a shot of that because you have the god view and you can see anything you want while you’re in a movie it’ll be fine and we’re like yeah but you can’t why would anyone shoot that there’s no reason at this point in this plot for a camera to be getting footage of that so it doesn’t make any sense so we can’t do it so we have to figure out an alternate way so it was harder than we thought to not break our own rules that we set for ourselves but i hope that that had some effect on why exactly the guy i was talking about would be like yeah that’s a real thing right that’s a real documentary and that’s i think that’s how we accomplished that if indeed we did there are parts are there where somebody’s being interviewed as it’s if they’re being interviewed and they’re talking with the other guys yeah yeah yeah we have quite a bit of interviews and some of that is real some of that is scripted and a lot of that is made up on the spot but what we did was we went to actual lego conventions so we went to a thing called bricks by the bay in santa clara here in the silicon valley in california and we talked to people that were already there that other people knew that what they call adult fan of lego a falls so we would talk to them and be like hey guys all right so you understand how who a good guy is who a bad guy is how this world went down okay max grand he’s great but something weird happened to him in the past you don’t really know what it is but you know it revolves around this idea of gluing and that’s terrible and so talk to me a little bit about that and then so they just sort of make up their own story based on what that was and we’d sort of guide them in a little bit different direction so we weren’t putting words in their mouth so much as getting them to tell the story from their own point of view which was really great because then it felt real and organic as if they were coming up with it as if they had lived through it and that’s what we were trying to do was not only weave people that other people within the lego community would know but also uh have them reflect on it in their own manner i can’t write for that person i don’t know that person i don’t know what character that person is so we want them to be able to talk from their own their own ability to be themselves which i cannot emulate that was our intent and do you think this is quite a community of people and you know what kind of backgrounds do people come from and ages you are they very different all of them and they’re all united by this one thing you how does it work yeah i think that’s a pretty accurate way to say it i went to five different conventions in 2018 and talked to a bunch of people and had a whole bunch of people watch the movie at those situations and it was great and i would say that they’re what you would think that that culture would be in some ways meaning that they’re i would say they are not traditionally extroverted people they’re a little withdrawn here and there you certainly have your people that are out there and having fun and a little bit different but this is their world to get out of their shell because they are among friends and they are among people who are into the same thing they are i was sort of an outsider in that situation so i think i got to see both sides which was interesting they are they do vary in range i mean lego is an expensive hobby too so it’s not like you have a bunch of maybe say 15 year olds with cubic meters worth of lego that would um be able to fill a whole room and actually make these big great creations to show off you know so it’s an expensive hobby so you’re you’re talking about a lot of middle-aged people men and women we sort of lampooned that in the movie too by showing basically one main one main woman that’s one of the contenders in it and you know that’s the idea is like there’s only one and so she has this weird dynamic within our world and that’s not entirely true but there’s a little bit of that certainly in the lego world not a bad thing it just you know happens to be who who’s into what it’s a great community they’ve been really nice to me all the conventions that let me go out there was really great and the bricks fiesta i did a keynote speech at dallas super fun and yeah everyone’s been really great what was it that drew you to doing it by zygo in the first place you know i remember when i was a kid how much i loved it still do but you know i used to play a lot when i was 10 12 13 and i wanted we wanted something originally you know because you start out with these sort of broad strokes while you’re creating a story you’re like okay what are we going to do what’s this movie about well let’s do it about i want to do a mockumentary cool all right well what do you want to do about it you’re like well most mockumentaries have to have some some sort of competition in them great what do you know about that you could do about competitions and you’re like well we’re artistic but then we also want to have something that i have access to um i don’t know let’s do lego okay cool and so like that’s it’s like the first conversation and unless you realize that’s a total dead end you sort of created your world in a very um slap-dash manner that doesn’t mean it’s bad but that means that you’ve already put yourself into a corner and then you have to paint yourself out of it they have that metaphor makes sense but uh it came very early on and that was immediately i was like yup that’s what we want to do that’s going to work and it sounds like an idea that although it’s been a long time coming this is probably the year that we needed it oh man i hope so yeah you never know because um you know i was watching the lego movie when it came out and it’s a trip because the kid that i don’t have you seen the lego movie yes okay so if you remember at the end there’s will ferrell and then there’s this other kid and basically what was happening within the movie was in this kid’s world and will will in this kid’s world and whatever so that kid is jaden sand he’s in our movie he was in our movie before the lego movie while we were making brick madness he was in it he did a bunch of scenes he came back and was in the rest of his scenes basically and i was talking to his mom and she’s like oh yeah we were working on something that was also about bricks and i was like oh that’s cool and she didn’t tell me anymore that she was very coy about it because she has to be because she decides ndas and all that and um i was like oh neat cool some little thing whatever yeah i’m sure this would be much bigger and better and then you know i go to the theater and i was like son of a [ _ ] jayden look at this this is insane they spend like a billion dollars it’s so good this movie’s awesome and so i’m just like depressed and this sucks and like you know and that was a long time ago too and it still took a long time to come out so it’s like you never know hopefully in 2014 we were ahead of our time and it wasn’t gonna work and now it’s gonna work better you know you do what you can do to make what you can and you put it out when it happens we made some mistakes and couldn’t have got it done sooner i made some mistakes but um it is what it is you try to push through but it shows that you were on to something that there was some interest in the subject matter so that in a way if you want to take a positive out of it you were in the right direction i was a trendsetter without even knowing it and without actually setting any trends it’s just yeah you’re the silent voice in the voice yeah exactly well that’s my dad you know it’s you’re like well i just thought of something dad i just came up with something and you know when we were kids it would be like you don’t think of things they’re just floating around in the air you just grab them because ideas are just everywhere you didn’t come up with an idea that’s just there it’s in the ether i was like all right i guess then i grabbed an idea and he’s like all right is it a good one you’re like yeah he’s like okay do something with it so i think that’s what i’ve always sort of thought about ideas anyway and that’s the thing too you can’t be you want to love your ideas they say kill your babies i don’t i do and i don’t agree with that i think you have to dispel things that aren’t quite gonna work but you really want to but you also have to fight for the things that aren’t quite working yet but you really think will and so it goes both ways that’s the eternal struggle of creativity i think deciding what to jettison and deciding what to champion those are very difficult decisions because they are amorphous and who knows what’s right i mean it’s really refreshing to hear you talking about mistakes i mean how do we know that we’re getting things right if we don’t mess it up every now and again and have something to learn from you know and we should be there’s so much pressure i think on creatives to get it right and to be doing it really well all of the time but you need those learning curves don’t you and you need to be allowed to feel sometimes and failure is actually a good thing and we should be allowed i think to recognize that really learn from it yeah absolutely we did a um sort of a corporate video for a school and these are second third fourth fifth graders and they talked a lot about failure and how it was good and useful and an important part of the learning process and you know i think they were combating the concept that a lot of kids growing up today are like have never really like internalized what it felt to fail felt like to fail and because they had always been you know you you get a participation ribbon even if you get last and that makes it seem like no matter what you sort of won and i don’t that’s not how life works and so i think we’re preparing people for young people for a life that doesn’t exist when we’re just giving out participation ribbons no matter what and graduating from kindergarten suddenly you have a big party and i’m like i don’t why why are we having a party that’s for the parents that’s not for the kids that doesn’t even make sense and so i think yeah along that lines you you have to learn how to fail and how to just understand that what you did maybe wasn’t good enough like you tried and you gave it to your best effort and it wasn’t enough and so go back and try again and be stronger the next time around obviously it’s important to learn that fail forward that’s what they say and uh here in the silicon valley especially fail forward fail often fail early fail often and that way you can get them all out of the way justin are there any other areas of your practice that you would like to talk about today that we haven’t touched on yet what do people ask you questions about i mean do you get much feedback that sort of thing have you had previous guests that have touched on a topic but maybe not really dove into it to the level that you wanted we deal with quite a wide variety of things and i suppose what i try to do with every episode is to try and really drill down on things and to mine out as much information as we can to try and um because they try and have an educational focus to the podcast as well as this thing’s really interesting and it connects this other thing when i do get the chance to talk to practitioners in different media the things that they learn and there’s always something because i’m more from a theory background of studying film and i have a bit of practice experience but not really very much and so it’s just always really fascinating to hear how it really works in different areas different ways of working different ways of problem solving you know so it’s just great to just hear you talking about you know how do you get around certain problems how do you impose limitations on yourself so that you don’t meander off and it doesn’t make sense anymore it’s great to talk somebody who’s made documentary and mockumentary yeah totally and we have another documentary coming out and it’s called better so that’s happening in january and that’s um way different than brick madness it’s an actual real thing about very important subject diabetes so that’s diabetes in obesity which are run along the same path almost always that’s the biggest epidemic we’ve ever faced health-wise i mean it’s not a pandemic in the same way that corona is but it’s you know the biggest thing that’s happening especially in westernized societies so talking about that talking about the shame that comes along with having overweight talking about how people develop these understandings of what they’re supposed to be eating and why and how often times they’re misled and given totally faulty information you know that stuff’s really important to address in a way that then offers them real answers about what scientifically proven methods of eating are actually going to help you in the long run and so that’s really what we’re trying to do on that i was a director on that i did a whole bunch of interviews you know talked to four harvard doctors and a variety of other people and we just really wanted to drill down and understand exactly what was at the heart of that and offer answers we put everything in the movie that we possibly could about what to do not just what not to do and so we didn’t leave anything on the cutting room floor door like oh man this is we’ll save that for the sequel or we’ll keep that so that we could sell it to someone later or whatever it’s like my goal was just to give people answers and i really think that’s what we did furthermore that’s what art is about hopefully either asking profound questions or answering profound questions i mean like that’s your job and usually both yeah so with that idea of relaying information maybe we’re in very similar places in the uk and the us at the moment where we’ve got this idea of post truth you know how reliable is any of the information that we’re told and there’s so much pressure on people to be autonomous and take control of their own destinies their own lives their own eating habits and that sort of thing but while being sold things that are very bad for them on a constant lip and it’s really difficult to make certain decisions and then there’s socio-economic factors and all sorts of things going on so it’s really again a probably a really prescient time for something like that to be on the way yeah i hope so that one feels like that is the best possible time it could come out is like right now i’m i really think we’re hitting it while the iron is hot and so to speak brick madness i hope has that same sort of the same sort of legs under underneath it in terms of that but like there’s never been a better time to have a movie like better in my opinion a quick question for you like what’s a healthy food generally vegetables okay good yeah i mean that’s a good start yeah yeah and so we talk about that and it’s because it’s not you being able to you answered that more quickly than most people okay and i would say that quote-unquote vegetables you know like that’s such a wide variety of things and so we center our concept of vegetables and which ones are good specifically on non-starchy vegetables okay so i mean you can get fat by eating potatoes or just rice or just wheat you know those aren’t neces those are vegetables or grains at least but they fit within a certain category that just because they’re a vegetable doesn’t mean they’re great but there are vegetables that are the best thing you can eat essentially and so we dig down on that we talk about non-starchy vegetables nutrient-dense proteins whole food fats and low fructose fruits in a way that i think hopefully people can like identify those things and really understand like not just well i heard that this specific thing was really good for you and like what does that mean but be able to drill down and be like here’s exactly why this food would be better than that food and we try to outline that for people in a really useful manner going back to maybe storytelling in general what you were talking about with regards to uh you know misinformation and people having to draw their own conclusions and all that i think we’ve lost the ability to think critically and it’s not necessarily our fault like we’re beset by so many things that are trying to take our attention and trying to co-opt our understanding of of what we already knew and i think we’re definitely in a time in history that has never been more like that and some of that is political it’s people trying to convince us something that we knew since time immemorial was one way and they’re trying to say well because of these reasons it’s not that way it’s this way now and so there’s a lot of confusion there in my own personal politics i definitely grasp all right definitely um what would you say have to wage a continuous war against that misinformation but when you’re making a movie and when you’re the writer of a movie let’s say your job is to give enough information to the director the producer so that that person knows exactly what you were trying to accomplish and why but not how to feel about it not how to do their job so as when you’re writing a story you want to display the situation as accurately as possible so that the director can then say here’s how i want to tell that story to the audience but you don’t tell them exactly where to put the camera you don’t tell them exactly how to make the actor act or any of those things right because that’s the direction in the same way then the director takes that and says here’s how i want to show that to the audience because i don’t want to ever tell them how to think but i want to tell them what the situations are so that they can decide how to interpret it actually you would give that to the actor so you display that exact as appropriately as possible so the actor can then say i will do my job i don’t want to tell the audience how to think but i will display to them exactly what the situation is so that they can decide how to think and then it gets to the audience and they hopefully gather all those things from those three processes or probably more they came before that and they don’t feel beset by someone else saying now you feel sad now you feel happy now this is complicated you know like they don’t feel that way they feel like oh this is a real story a real life situation that i can then get my own understanding of because then i can connect it to what i feel about as a human in that situation so now it becomes part of our shared understanding and that’s the critical thinking that i’m talking about in there and i think that you were sort of referencing is our ability to take input that might not all agree with each other you know a thousand points of data and get our own deeper more profound look into what that really means to us and i think we can’t let that go and that’s why reality tv sucks to divert is because they’re constantly telling you exactly what to think about the situation and that’s why it’s so i can’t even think of the word it it’s such a in my mind and it you know we’ve sort of gotten past a lot of that but that’s why it’s so sort of terrible for critical thinking and i think that those things go hand in hand or not maybe not by not mistake is not the right word but that’s not an anomaly that our decreased level of critical thinking also goes hand in hand with our decreased level of wanting to interpret media in a deep meaningful manner without being told how to interpret it so that’s my rant sorry it’s going on quite so long but that’s how i view the sort of holistic view of that stuff yeah i think we’re on the same page don’t worry it’s complicated and it should be complicated like everything should be complicated except for what food to eat we figured that one out it’s very much an aim of this show is to try and help people learn how to analyze the media that they engage with so that’s really useful justin thank you for that yeah it’s important that’s your job you know just like anything you have to watch something with a critical understanding of the 5 000 things that came before that that are influencing why that was done that way yeah because i think it’s so much about right well why is it framed in that way and why are we seeing that person at the moment why are they lit that way you know it’s asking all of those probing questions to get it an answer and if it throws up even more questions all the better as you say it’s complex but if you work through the complexity then you can have a eureka moment and go oh that’s yes what’s going on being manipulated okay and then you can do something about it totally so i’ll divert here for a second there’s an episode of the simpsons i don’t know if i know more than just about everyone but certainly almost everyone about the first 10 seasons of the simpsons anyway so there’s an episode with the um gummy venus de milo and um homer is supposedly you know sexually um harassed this she’s a a babysitter right and that wasn’t what he was doing he’s trying to get this famous piece of candy and all that stuff and so there ends up being footage of this and it’s a groundskeeper willie and he’s the one that did the footage because he’s a peeping tom or whatever and so homer gets on this show and then he gets you know they they re-edit it to make him look like a total psycho weirdo and all this there’s this big media hullabaloo and he’s just the most terrible dude in the world and they’ve already made a uh waited for tv movie starring dennis france from nypd blue and it’s like this whole mess right that just happens in this situation because um people just grab onto this stuff like vultures the video finally comes out with groundskeeper willy and we don’t know who he is yet but he shows the video and it like fixes the situation homer’s no longer in trouble and then immediately thereafter there’s a promo for the next video which is like basically saying how bad groundskeeper willy is for uh we willy peeper i think they call him for being the one walking around with the camera getting all this stuff and then homer immediately turns on him he’s like shouting at the tv he’s like that man is evil and marge is like homer he just saved your life and he’s like but marge listen to the music and so like it’s such a good encapsulation of how immediately we’re we’re made to feel a certain way just by the music or the lighting or whatever the situation is and we just take it hook line and sink or at least if we’re homer we buy into that [ _ ] immediately yeah yeah yeah so i don’t know that’s my favorite is that show just has so much truth you know it means so much of like oh that’s how the world works and so many of us have watched it endlessly and yet we’re still making the same mistakes yeah exactly yeah yeah it’s not even like oh i know what not to do now you’re like oh i see what i’m doing yeah i suck that’s totally the problem that i previously understood was a problem oh well yeah you make your mistakes over and over until you finally don’t keep making them hopefully yeah we just keep trying so justin would you like to point people towards your website your socials so that they can find you and follow your work yeah certainly that’s an easy place to go it’s not fully updated but it certainly can get you there if you wanted to buy the movie right now it’s at little sister ant dot shop and then you can find me on justin makes movies on instagram that might be a good way to approach all that you know there’s a million different ways to find me or anyone these days and it’s hard to keep track yeah yeah thank you so much for having me on i mean this is a excellent interview i definitely got to talk about i’ve done like dozens of or maybe a dozen of these so far and um i think they got i got a little bit deeper into some stuff on this one than i did on another one so i’m very grateful that you you know provided the platform for that well it’s been so lovely having you have been really looking forward to speaking to you and thank you for accommodating our big time difference oh yeah no problem out of bed anything that can make that happen is good no problem at all it’s so nice to connect with people so far away but to just hear so many excellent stories and to learn so much about your practice and everything that you do thank you so very much justin you’re very welcome yeah excellent this has been a cozy peapod production with me paula blair the music is common ground by airton used under a creative commons 3.0 non-commercial license and is downloadable from episodes release every other wednesday subscribe on apple podcasts spotify amazon music or wherever you find your podcasts see the show notes for a video link if you need auto captions be part of the conversation with av cultures on facebook and twitter or iv cultures pod on instagram as well as patreon membership one-off support is appreciated at forward slash pea blair i produce and edit the show by myself and i am grateful for any support for this work for more information and episode links visit thank you so much for listening catch you next time you


Audiovisual Cultures episode 59 – Personal Film-making with Éanna Mac Cana automated transcript

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hello and welcome to the audio visual cultures the podcast exploring arts and cultural production I'm Paula Blair and I'm really happy to be joined this time by Ian McKenna he talks to us by his moving image practice many thanks to membership Petri on dot com forward slash AP cultures for your continued and much appreciated support the podcast is free to access but not to make and distribute they say this into the end to find out more ways to be part of audio visual cultures for now I enjoy the discussion my and I'm gonna so my slash mark great for circa aren't quite as I had the pleasure of Lincoln street quite a lot of your work because you've been putting it on he changed a lot of the work that you had and installations and and film festivals that's really exciting so you've been mostly making short form films so far is that right yeah at the moment I would like to push on to more long form projects not been writing a couple things that are beyond anything I've done so far one of the reasons as a financial our financial because you can only afford so much short forms good for audience attention things like that when you're in the autumn exceptional or if it's online you know people tend to not watch too much for too long especially in the sort of the phones that I like I'm a big fan of slow cinema and that's what and that sort of culture that's a bit more difficult I think then it might be useful to try and get an idea if it seems and she said come through in your work by talking first of all may be a bite when your most recent film set you up loaded so last week he uploaded I read a short animation called screen I find that one really striking visually as well as the audio it's really fascinating we found some debate twenty five seconds it's all right I really love the way you focus on small details and you've got this recurring image of a hydraulic hospital bed space areas and so %HESITATION there's a sense coming three of it you use the shapes of things in their car abstracted but it's so clear what they are you know it's very minimal very pared back but I find it really packs a punch yeah it really conveyed a lot of isolation and it was quite intense but there's also this idea of busy ness and there's a lot of other stuff going on in the signed happy to talk about what it is you're exploring and not screening I sort of hit us like a and then between film from a terms of work lan's love my work I had a film at a while back %HESITATION enactors the bad racism but I'm also I I've written a short film that I sort of had in mind %HESITATION hasn't been made yet but it's close to other sort of static look good screen %HESITATION ready part Bach images I kind of want to choose have a teaser almost have something in mind or were introduced the next short film well I plan to shoot down short film estimated and block light so for me I was kind of just test out different ideas I like to focus on the one detail some some I'm a big fan of Theodor Dreyer's optional Joan of arc in the not so there's a lot of just it's like a bad against double cross got stalled so that sort of thing but was again excellent as well not only on screen but in previous work focusing on the details and %HESITATION singer objects I guess running and to me or what people take away from the previous when needed was it the rectory where specifics in a hospital is that it will migrate G. use of faulty camera for part of it and some of the tech is that right sure is that a different one I used to smoke the camera for the previous one and so in the beginning yeah yeah %HESITATION are you saying comment but I I bought a a number one for right tree vocabulary I used faulty camera soul download Sony small comment it fitted perfectly with the seams of mortality and the LX you know something Dan real I try and find a lot of my work but then withdrew right tray %HESITATION I bought the same coming because I love the last four that's a fact was brilliant and I I'm you know just a local blues like nineties nerds because Arnold films that came out this summer kind of silly but still like them you know like the Blair witch project yeah but I thought maybe aren't on it when I'm on the phone that works fine %HESITATION short amount for a tree news two films that way if you if you're from third thinking about grace the I. losing somebody and he's left behind and how it affects them themes range remembrance and directions you go through when you visit a gray area for around a week %HESITATION I was researching a lot in the last few years then to you know old Irish culture and the culture of this card for an interlock nowadays or if it's just sort of surviving as well %HESITATION interest in high changes over time and that sort of thing about the form the cane and work at it you know can instead of the mouth of the cease so archaic ritual work usually %HESITATION woman will perform it but it kind of died down there's a number of reasons why it doesn't work cups of church work too big of a fond of women home and sort of power quality G. number take place over to say stuff away usually they don't really like the I think there is an association are works for pagan rituals goes back a long way so it was nothing but I had met the in the lead up to a cause try to find someone to perform but eventually turned out to be just coincidence virtual someone speak Irish as well as waters I am not the Armagh Reimers and a member the log treatments Dara he was talking to me about it you know hi it's just a human response really sort of took the dog not study what I was getting out I was trying to there was no like sort of I guess like national sentiment it was just I was really talking about your expression of grief but I will talk to the man well sort of right now from a couple different perspectives sort of controlling but my own history but people you know the possible entrance with a little bit of research about eight point nine years ago and is described as a cry baby on the crying it was this signed it just came from my friend it did not say how a particular there aren't any necessary words to you or if it's just something that emerges the fading that could emerge the sign from the body yeah that's right most of my life I suppose it was like a sort of poem yes but I I did you know one man Francis Quinn what we're working to get her on the shoulder if you're getting into those sort of moments where the words are really coming up yeah you know just kind of like roll with it %HESITATION welcome those kind of conduct as you described in like manner not even just mumbles or you know cries all because Shiro it's electrical work but for the most part it is water going back to work the sort of history of I think there's like a lot of links to the Jewish and our cultures as well so in trucks fascinating what's the point of origin yes %HESITATION yeah yeah it came up actually and %HESITATION previous recording I did with an artist who's also based in Belfast she was born in Iran she was talking about practices that were really quite similar from her parents culture feels something just quite natural about it in a way it's a natural response to something I think visually that one because that's one where I thought the night vision use where it's quite a grain and then you've got these distortions are it's breaking up a lot of my work as well it's kind of just circumstance again with the calmer it was that's faulty common interest students good luck %HESITATION it suited the mood the night vision really the only light up what county that so if you just put a figure against a wall on the extra cost light across her uncle night vision that's great stuff but we can I can be very effective to go alongside the words so and was there might be some like pouches works but if they cannot just recording close we had recorded an accidental theatre that's right Shastri score %HESITATION cars go by so I was still a lot of the coast just to eliminate those so instead of the tween what Francis was Sam it came back around and worked in my favor because it sits commerce talent %HESITATION what she says will expose these things keep reemerging and other pieces so the rag trade one that has the bad images again but you've also got it seems like a young man visiting some sort of memorial and tying a rack on a trade going down the rabbit hole again there were old traditions and cultures for a lot of people still have probably more so than the actors gaining less someone from wells drilled visitor well technically well kept their rights or part of something the baby belongs to a person tie it to the right track selected hope I guess maybe it cools into by a pro or send a message something to someone I guess or something special %HESITATION so I'm so I'm not too sure that's true but there's plenty of holy wells and Arland specially hello source close just because something does on some some of them are just been lost over time as well so myself but this is just nice like simple act of documents on Oct but maybe this time yeah because there's a lot of focus on removing the grant and stay close up action of the hand stepping into water repeatedly it's almost like a cleansing part of the ritual I wonder if it's a failing %HESITATION if we separate from any religious connotation for a moment if it's an active trying to feel like you're doing something when you feel powerless in a situation of somebody isn't while or maybe in the process of dying and you're fading quite helpless about that so you it's there maybe doing something is what helps yeah I think you're right Justin something like simple lock blacked out whatever it may be it doesn't have to be connected to religious or you know it doesn't have to belong to the old Irish culture or anything like that in your state it's just a simple act of going to get someone's some sweets store and bring them to the person who's on world just visit and some of them talking to them structural work here this time you get more directly into the following a young person dating with grace and your fiction film removal that was a longer pay say is that right that you had a quite a few film festivals because again the Irish things are coming up and then to do with one part of it the aftermath lawyer %HESITATION decided some of that and so lot of Irish folk gospel so got it in Dublin that knows what and %HESITATION the contest you here I thank people who were maybe decide not here were able to connect to you know a bit more than what was brought so it's following a young man he seems to have a job as a roommate filled person maybe needs religious icons which manages to accidently damage some of them so there's quite a point it's thank you bye in faith and they act swiftly and stuff so he finds out about his father being taken now and he seems to just know that yeah I'm gonna miss her yeah but yes I see what you mean it by really appreciating so cinema and not it's a very quiet %HESITATION minutes very stale and so when there is action you really notice sets yes it's very considered and that's very internal type of foam nothing that's what I was really traffic across all like I think the average shot length and removal is quite long some shots that go on programs and kind of wild I guess for a short song yeah I was looking at a lot of collects in them %HESITATION I'd watch a lot of care star means work right now all right excellent I was also a hem that makes sense because there's quite a lot of journeying on roads and %HESITATION then remain so yeah that yeah yes run scheme where but said she found that one Armonk with a twist on that it was good from the Americans just not many people except in the roads and stuff yes Iran's held nearby that mom so that's a big part of the film yeah there's a woodland it's very K. E. N. N. he received something suddenly happens because he sort of just runs away from it the main character and then later on after time as possible after the way the main character is played by transaction he %HESITATION return slots for %HESITATION I guess it's like a appreciation for what it means and it went away you know you get like when places hold such meaning to sometimes fall for me at least I don't really hold any resentment or bitterness towards them I just kind of look at them and that's what the main character does so there is a better route right I wrote as well as a sort of big wave at the burgers when he returns he sees a communication tower and I was kind of Lincoln and %HESITATION earlier in the film or some %HESITATION so I was trying to pick up some from there I wasn't too sure what exactly transaction isn't comparable isn't because see it or feel it so it does feel like a lot of your films are trying to work through things do you feel that that's how your filmmaking is is just trying to work through things here especially the short films as well and part of the cane and someone to find the right in the car I guess they're just releases of you know what I want for in hospital I've been talking about the steps she frowns on stocks as well bush will make and it's a bit more difficult for me to find a release and settlement because it's not really about being creative when you're all set you have to get the job done film and %HESITATION and parts of that again for me are I don't really find a creative release the more maybe I'd like to write that sort of thing you know I think for the farmers they can go on stage and get that instant release boardwalk tractors or people are like expressing cells but also making nothing it's only when you're maybe writing or doing some smoke from a I find a release not since the tools to get it done yeah yeah I think there's no room for emotional so you kind of just need to get the job done at least if you're still short films I produce all of them as well I wish I didn't have to books maze runner online get a job it'll probably really important practical experience though because hopefully that sets you up if you want to expand and not sort of career because you are so very young you've got options and for what area you want to do because you're ready multi skilling at the moment with I have to remind myself up thank you you know when you're taking on the rails for a lot of the toxicity obviously learned a lot about that's good experience and I try and removal was a it was a tough shit I felt at the time I hadn't done a good enough job directing the things about but I guess just kind of part you know I suppose if you're if you're have a death spiral the house at the same time then realistically you know and you're very young film maker and it is a very difficult job today so to have me at at seventeen minute film doing about much of the work by yourself at your age that's pretty impressive in itself I mean unless they have seen worse I'm not damning it with faint praise it's a good phone but you know I've seen a lot worse buying more professional people so don't put yourself behind don't be hard on yourself I think all of us or at our whole lives are always constantly learn and it's good to be there to get things to go well I can do better I will do better next time because you know happened any mistakes but not that you made mistakes it's a really tight found fascist more just accept that you're young and you're gaining experience and you're doing it really well so there's a heart to take from what you're doing and it's very brave to do a lot of the same since well because you're looking at things that are quite mature for your age I think your generation are quite an interesting correct because he might have some more maturity because of things going on in your life so that people just a few years old and you might not have so I'm quite interested to learn about what's going on is people your age at the moment in there for a year at a time I what's going on I'm in my own little world whatever yeah like a lot of people my age are color to your name and stuff and I just kind of trying to figure it out I thank the detail a lot of people obviously comes with a lot of pressure on banks adding different people figured out I don't think any of this really truly figure it out just to survive he just couldn't hurry I think anybody ever says a good little sauce diet thing that probably lion to be honest you're asking me about a film education having been a content provider and thirty comments for some education and having had a background of film education he told me before that your son medication the center up to this because of health issues right you're going three year periods it seems to me from the right side of self educating and just staring at me in learning by doing it as far to say before I worked for al Qaeda back I went to Manchester for yeah twenty six and twenty seven ten studies from working there but before that I was making phone Burke I didn't even amidst a skill and I made films outside about and then %HESITATION yeah I came back and was in hospital for but I don't know I guess I just pop my color blinded by it you started filming and I sort of had these images from my house so I started to look back on capital C. phone services will soon I guess I've got experience from me I've definitely learnt the most just a muscle do you wonder hi the experiences compare it was clear heart broken in a way when I was teaching and I taught briefly at the university of Salford probably at the same time that you remind Chester yeah and I was a theory person attached to a a new film production degree you know we had so many excited radiant Tasiast sick young people the old one and three directors producers cinematographers so last and tell them they're probably at the end of your degree you'd have to go in as a runner anyway because it's not your discounts tracking yeah you know I always wondered about just the aspects of that that your film production education that's formalized an institutionalized because I worry that a lot of young people are going into it thinking that they're going to come right straight away B. in Tarantino or whatever ironically because he's not allowed to give those old phone apart from going to cinema and I feel like that's what's lacking is they're not going to the cinema they're just watch and stuff your TD which is fine but then thinking they're going to move to Hollywood or something when they're finished %HESITATION it's not very realistic so just wondering if what you're experiencing you're still in the middle of it so we're finding ice but yeah if you know your different experiences just gotten in there and just stay in it anyway I have good experience of my course managing what I go back in the I remember %HESITATION of course later said at the start of the collection phones good summer that was my mobile you know because I go to settle I watch a lot of that is I watch a lot of phones that's a big ass character you mention card you know he he worked in the TV rental store for years but I just watched like carrentals numbers or talks with watching films but part of it for me I guess some people go into unity I'm not gonna make excellent courses because they don't really know exactly what they want to be a generalist maybe some people are going to not work but A. S. film industry is a bit of a tricky one because again as you're saying it's like you graduate from a soul mate control but you're still going to have to take up an entry level and the film industry unless you called the connection to the ground I don't think people read enough about what the course entails they usually set up the course detailed enough before after it so you'll know what you're sort of getting into but I think people don't pay much attention and there's a lot of pressure school you need generally not just whistle that can you know look you gotta get out on your life and then further down the road that can cause a lot of problems it was that it is free for one moment we were in office he wants to direct this is when I was at Manchester I was surprised how many people didn't put their hands up you know I just take as a given the people up at the moment and course and direct short souls but a lot of people I guess maybe didn't know yet or maybe their trusted server settings what we're there to make films and stuff but there's a lot of farmers just yeah there's a huge amount today I think life experiences probably in a way more useful or been educated in other areas can be more useful as but I'm hearing on this and other podcasts that have a lot of people he fell foul kinds of production roles and it's just so fascinating the amount of different things the point of different expertise that goes into making one program or one found sharks I worked in our department for over so many different departments and crazy and journal folks a lot of moving parts so yeah there's a lot going on you'd be surprised special music productions check out the E. at the moment do you have to hustle for work is it a combination of your own projects and working for other people there how does that work for you at the moment so my heart was working in the art department in the summer well so my eyes and I like that little bit of the Jewish nocturnal wish the how to a more steady job or I wish that I called paid for what I want to do so much I don't really make too much money off my own phones are covered contact it's like production designer so that work for him usually you'll swing up sparkles I'm sorry I kind of just want to focus on my own thing but then I got side tracked I need a bit of money as well I'm hoping maybe script almost study job I guess but I'd like to do something in around what I'm interested in the is it okay to ask if I if this whole time he's gonna Seuss's the short documentary he's done with the artists Sharon Kelly he's got I think it's today they were recording at her expressions opening and the golden tried to gallery because it is an investor moments while the reason for the phone and her work is pretty stunning as well yeah it is she's done a great job they're not talking about you just came out of nowhere I came back from I had a residency in Hong Kong I came back from there talk with my mom about her show and stuff and I just sort of the idea and vision make some for southern %HESITATION started piecing together the show looks great my own such a going beyond our so she's such a big influence on the slim %HESITATION so it's nice to just make some four nine it was a free what's not because what she's doing is she's drawing in charcoal on translation papers so you get the sense of a delicatessen and circles just sitting on the paper it could slide off at any moment so sense of hate to have to go to it is to work with these very delicate materials and so thank you very any picked up and the camera work you've got a lot of different focal ranges going on around me for it you just recapture that precarity through the proximity the close ups and everything else going on three different lancers I have a fifteen on third and six and then I sort of rain just to work with so my mom still some really interesting things with Celtics all the work you know in terms of the medium she's working on connects to the subject matter of memory and you know I fraudulent so much of the work is I've been stolen right out of sorry right yeah and then bump stocks in there every five minutes as well so its rating of a subject matter because that's really into her own childhood is not what happens after this old place but there's something very tenuous by thought for memory that she seems to have been there's photographs made in a play I guess what a lot of my mom's records contemplate of offense I think she's going to leave however bucked and usual major bustled through these images to she found her child so she doesn't want to talk with articulate and events serious amounts of school or work as well with respect to the cut it should be treated as she speaks related to grief and silence of the truck made a specific source of inspiration doctors well you know she did your cheatin automation these are things I look to as well as references and grown up or under my daughter's focus on Nordic stirs I think it just kind of rubs off on June I'll look at things but if you're going about a project or visually Allah I'll I think there's a lot of lost an entrance from them on holiday compose events on paper or on the complex do you want to sending about the residency then in Hong Kong something very exciting S. R. four months months ago I applied because I was on the go away somewhere on my phone well I might as well do something with the rest and so on to look at and what's going to start a year pretty much for us Tomlin residents in Hong Kong and then %HESITATION over somewhere things just kind of started with capital murder so it's kind of interesting going into the you know because I wasn't I I wasn't aware of what was going to happen in Hong Kong and I wasn't really too public I guess at the time when I applied yeah I'm not alone to the phone call so it wasn't too bad to be honest but it was just sent trucks to be there at that time this is the time when there's major protests happening yeah I was there for the month of October and %HESITATION straits clan on the flight over I had just finished up by one round I'm not sold by the individual gets the collective a lot of them arrived into this place where people are fighting for their individual rights the same thing but you can so sort of big box it was very Allah cart make together what is your residency entail fun I wrote a script for bisexual myself right now and then I made some installation work about how to show that they're studying cold flu projects so I had to show that are accepted my video work you know what I just thought Hyundai controlled everything to a different expression titled that was just made up of these plaster cost plastic cups that collected while I was in hospital nurses with public schools thanks to them your tech tomorrow over the course of cost us to start collecting the I. cost those and made a split bad I'm just laid out on the floor I kind of disconnected from although I was like a spectator took what was going on in Hong Kong I didn't really want that so I wasn't interested enough so I I didn't really lucked out interfere with what I was doing to be honest with the video work and the installation again it kind of falls along to where I am creatively I can really well maybe outside forces made their way and and I didn't realize what the instruction book from A. I. this was to do with myself there was no room for me in Florence from what's happened in the old call because you you know a young person he's been through quite an ordeal that's a lot to work three and itself yeah yeah I find myself in my head a little yeah and there's an overwhelming amount of stuff going on in the world in general at the minute so it's really difficult to start getting ready and entrances and I agree and caring about one thing a lot of but all the other millions of things going on so it that's not a bad thing to be introspective Eric's sister overwhelming to them as well so I don't really know what's going on in the world I guess it's always been our best but when you go free I guess something traumatic and then you come out the other side you're not going to run you almost think the world will be peaceful but that doesn't just keep scrolling do you think you trying to find some sort of peace and yourself maybe it's not as active as possible yeah I guess I would like to thank thank most car helped me last year almost like a delay strengths are and what happened when I was in the hospital and I think things really struck me last year and I almost became a worked out towards the end when I came back to Hong Kong in Hong Kong where we can reach you that's great until residents need seem to have been doing quite well that getting your working savages and Belfast another but beyond this file is fortunate because I Peter Butler's Michael sabar trump he runs the %HESITATION password yes or a no time I got out of hospital and these videos to kind of want to do something with them right shoot for a few days and it scored one of his on court street none I thought to be honest I was kind of down the thought you know it was just it was a nice way of wrapping it up but then I don't remember too much of what happened but I I was able to get the crescent only a few months after on I did like a complete new body of work pretty much within two months and that was the homework in the king and %HESITATION I was running a cold front that after a committee it should come scratch you know I really like your work so that's frustrating because I'm trying to push things on them it's been difficult to get shown criticism thank installations with a lot of hard graft and patience keep at it and see how it goes we've done quite a lot and quite a short space of time Stampy pace with fast do you feel like you're exploring a sense of a connection to the Irish nicer Irish I tend to say because it feels like this is a question that's come up in a broader sense with people I think mostly because of what's going on lasts for accents after the referendum a few years ago and I feel like a lot of people from the north from north in Ireland from Ulster are reassessing their identity because I know I certainly have in the past few years I was just wondering if in a very personal sense because there is so much that we we've talked about it but CPOs practices that could be considered as traditional Irish practices but what a friend does that mean and %HESITATION what kind of direction you know there's a lot of question marks that come up from that but I just wondered if he had any thoughts on that or if that was part of what you were working through as well it is a great way to get it kind of brings back to what we're talking about earlier and that idea of human response to grief and relation to the king and I work under my Irish title and there's a lot of fiber strains from it are just human responses %HESITATION she came and things and I think that's what they should pay to be on a motor history works Gaelic culture these are just things that people go deal thanks I think to make it to you I'm not speaking about you I'm speaking generally to make a political is the wrong thing to the yeah that's fine I don't really think politics and identity in terms of my work ethic I don't really think about it too much at the moment I'm just kind of worked in truth my sort of demons %HESITATION trial almost get food %HESITATION there are locked there was just one of my friends after all but both techs society and %HESITATION I say it does make its way into your work one way or another I guess I'm speaking about hospital environment maybe something can be said about the lock of baths or things like that too and I chose them I think they always find their way in some parts but I don't really see doctor at political message I'm trying to send them through its an idea in a way maybe you have to renegotiate things with your own body because socks at the last count of what you were surprised when second impact said started because that was the first to be offensive what's yesterday this screen and it just struck me some action images of a and the signs of a shaky have status made just five cents of that isolation in a very busy environment I thought about that but I guess there's a contrast from Stalin do you have anything you want to plug is there anywhere on the internet you would like to direct people if they want to see your work the website and I maintain dot com but I think I'm going to be changed not sent yet somebody you should probably if you're older yeah to search for your name and it's crazy to find great SCO it's been really brilliant here for me to hear more about your work I run the query to say and how you work progresses thanks for optimal thank you very good luck with everything and get a her exhibition you've been listening to audio visual cultures it's me Paula Blair and my very special guest in the McKenna this episode was recorded edited and produced by polar bear the music is common ground by our tune licensed under creative Commons noncommercial three point zero license and is available for dine note on C. C. mixer dot org if you like what we do please help us make production and distribution costs with a regular payment to never pay dot com forward slash P. EA Blair or make one off donations to pay pal dot me forward slash PDA prior episodes are released every other Wednesday subscribe in your chosen app so you never miss a new release and do you remember that our backlog of episodes is all available on each tape visit audio visual culture shock wordpress dot com our fellow AT cultures politics on Instagram and eighty cultures on Twitter and Facebook for more information and useful links thanks so much for us then and catch you next time