This magazine is called Filmmaker, but even if you’re just a casual reader, you’ll know that we’ve always defined that term expansively. Yes, directors are usually the focus, but we apply the term across the filmmaking spectrum, fully aware of how good work by vital collaborators throughout the production process shapes the finished product — what’s commonly called “the director’s vision.”
Midway through our 25th year, we stick to the term “filmmaker,” hoping that it’s elastic enough to include a wide range of visual storytellers, like this issue’s Eliza McNitt, whose VR SPHERES: Songs of Spacetime was one of the best pieces of any kind I saw at Sundance this year. She’s profiled by Meredith Alloway. And can a machine be a filmmaker? That’s the question provocatively teased by Lance Weiler, as he discusses the ways AI — artificial intelligence — is beginning to be used in the filmmaking process.
But the main filmmaking dialogue running through this issue is a more grounded one — literally. It’s our first issue focused on location shooting and, specifically, how the choice of where to shoot a film is one that spans the creative, the financing and the physical production. Matt Mulcahey talks with a number of the film industry’s top location managers and collects a series of war stories that point to the artistic contributions of those occupying this often undersung crew position. And Matt Prigge surveys the current state of U.S. filmmaking incentives in an article that should give producers a sense of how rebates and credits can fit into — and possibly save — their productions.
As is often the case, articles in this issue wind up reinforcing one another. Our cover film is Chloé Zhao’s extraordinary The Rider, shot in and around the South Dakota Pine Ridge Reservation. After spending years on her debut film, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, she quickly returned to that film’s location and developed a more intimate, lower-budgeted film that, nonetheless, soars with real visual poetry. Her simple, ego-less advice in her interview with James Ponsoldt about making her film look great is guidance that beginning filmmakers should take to heart. I speak with the great Lynne Ramsay about her superb neo-noir, You Were Never Really Here, which is suffused with the electric anxiety of the hot New York summer during which it was shot. And Paul Dallas learns how Lucrecia Martel traveled just a ways from her home in Buenos Aires to summon up the colonial fever dream that is her new feature, Zama. There’s a lot more, of course, but I’ll let you discover it.
See you next issue.