When you wrote and directed your short film, The Statistical Analysis of Your Failing Relationship did you draw on your own experiences?!
Unfortunately, the film is largely autobiographical. I read a short story in McSweeney’s that analyzed relationships through statistics and I felt it tragically aligned how I viewed my own romantic failures. I think you need to identify with the story you’re telling emotionally, even if its far removed from your life or else it will be contrived.
What was your creative process when writing the narrative and then developing it into a film? At what point did you bring collaborators on to the project?
If a project doesn’t scare me then I know I’m not pushing myself hard enough.
I hit my head against a desk trying to write in-between shooting jobs. Then I trick dozens of people to help me make a film. Luckily, I have found lots of support.
It’s cliché to say, but filmmaking is a team sport. I share my ideas very early on. I like telling someone the premise of a story in a couple of sentences and see how they react emotionally. One day your film is going to be summed up that briefly and it has to grab people.
Your film Small + Lost for the Canadian DJ and producer Ryan Hemsworth works wonderfully as a music video (see in related content). What was behind your decision to develop it into an interactive story?
The goal was to create an interactive film where the user could enjoy a voyeuristic view on the character as he tried to escape their gaze. We all love to peer into other people’s lives in the most intimate way possible, but we find that lens on our own life oppressive. I think this dichotomy runs through our struggle with social media and how it changes how we act. To achieve this, we had to shoot each scene through once and then a second time from 15 surveillance cameras. This proved to be incredibly difficult in post to make sure that all the action matched correctly. It seems like we have now flipped Warhol’s famous phrase as now in the future everyone will have their 15 minutes of privacy.
What were the main challenges of making the World Vision films?
The biggest challenge was creating the environments for the impoverished children to work in. I wanted to find something as real as possible. But, without being able to shoot in a sweatshop or brothel we had to find the next best thing. I’m after shooting something as real as possible.
What influenced you to become involved in film and where did you train or did you learn on the job?
I grew up on set in Vancouver. To spend time with my parents, I had to hang out in my Father’s directing chair or my Mom’s props truck. I tried it once myself and became addicted.
Where do you call home?
I now live in Brooklyn. But home is where my laptop and suitcase reside.
Your worst nightmare production story was when….
I was shooting in Mexico last year and we were staging a slave cocoa plant. Somehow our local production team didn’t notify authorities that we would have fake weapons, so our crew was surrounded by dozens of Mexican military with machine guns. They held us at gunpoint until they realized we had replica weapons. After being detained in a jail in Ghana while shooting a documentary, I wasn’t going behind bars in a foreign country again.
What would be your dream directing job?
Directing a Charlie Kaufman script because Spike was unavailable.
List five inspirations that have connected with you recently – these can be films, music videos, books, architecture, people, anything you like!
Bjork’s latest album is heartbreak.
Anything by Khalil Joseph
Golfing with my 92 year old grandfather
Watching my 9 year old sister create short animated films on an iPhone
Going to the NY premiere of The Wolfpack and then seeing all the boys dance with their mother at the after party.