TALKING TO THE ZELLNERS, JENKINS AND ROBIN
Short End Magazine uses the occasion of our “25 New Faces” list to recap three conversations between Noralil Ryan Fores and filmmakers from this year’s edition. You can read an interview with the Zellner Brothers and also this interview with My Olympic Summer‘s Daniel Robin, an excerpt of which is below.
SM: Given four words to describe your style and four words to describe the purpose of your work, which eight words total do you chose?
DR: You’re killing me. Style: personal, atmospheric, rhythm, process. Purpose: cathartic, engage, communicate, new cinema.
DR: Well, I think for a film to be successful, and I don’t mean monetarily, it must establish and be consistent with its own unique atmosphere. Ultimately the film should become a special cinematic universe that engages on its own terms.
Finally, here’s a section from the discussion with Medicine for Melancholy director Barry Jenkins about directing actors:
SM: I’ve never crewed one of your films…How do you work with actors on set? How do you work with your crew?
BJ: The one thing I do, which I didn’t even realize I did until we made this film, is I always like to let the actor go first. I very rarely direct the first take, and that’s what I began to tell Tracey and Wyatt more and more. I was like, “Do the first take. Do what you feel. Then we’ll see what you have, and we’ll work from there.” I think that worked really well on this film because I always had an idea of what I wanted, but every now and then if I didn’t tell them what my idea was, they would come up with something that was much, much, much better.
It’s hard for me directing actors because I feel that I was so insecure physically with filmmaking when I got to film school, like the nuts and bolts—I didn’t know you needed a light to expose film; that’s why I took a year off, to learn those things. I almost feel like I overcompensate by having a film that technically proficient. So, it’s a danger with me with actors that sometimes I’m not paying enough attention because I’m worried about how this shot will cut with that shot, or this frame with that frame.
It was really scary to direct a feature film because I’d never shot anything that required more than a three day shoot, but I think that working on Their Eyes Were Watching God with Darnell Martin—who definitely is a mentor of mine; she is great with actors, absolutely amazing; box office, Oscar awards, all that means nothing. There are people like Darnell Martin who work primarily in television, who haven’t made these really huge films, who are amazing, amazing with actors. I’ve never seen anyone direct actors as well as Darnell Martin. I was able to take a little bit of what Darnell does—because she is way more intense than I am—and apply it to making this film.