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“Stories Make Order and Help Us Understand the Awful Noise”: Director Robert Greene | Bisbee ’17

Bisbee '17

As you made your film during the increasingly chaotic backdrop of the last year, how did you as a filmmaker control, ignore, give in to or, conversely, perhaps creatively exploit the wild and unpredictable? What roles did chaos and order play in your films?

The relationship between chaos and order is at the heart of all documentaries, especially films like ours that play with genre, performance and narrative. This means that we kind of need to do two kinds of films at once. It’s hard to make a good documentary and hard to make a good fiction film – but I was asking our team to make both at once! That meant my producers Douglas Tirola, Susan Bedusa and Bennett Elliott had to plan and coordinate large scale fiction shoots – with all the nuance that entails – while thinking like journalists and following the leads of the twisting, present-tense story. Cinematographer Jarred Alterman had to shoot a Western, a musical and have good nonfiction instincts. The entire crew – made mostly of current and former students of mine – needed to execute the orchestration of fiction while being ready to shift gears at a moment’s notice. I’m proud of this method, though it can be quite taxing. But as we built our train car and worked with hundreds of extras to recreate this dark day in American history – while watching our current president do his own twisted performance – the chaos became energizing for all of us. Stories make order and help us understand the awful noise.

[PREMIERE SCREENING: Saturday, January 20 at 8:15pm — Prospector]

Sundance 2018 Responses

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