But, the paradox is, with each passing film, I find myself inching out of the shadows, finding my voice, clawing towards my goal that I set for myself with storytelling and filmmaking; to make pictures that creep up on audiences. To make something so potent and so haunting that they prove hard to ignore. To call out the world.
Every time I finish a film I worry that it might be my last time. But, that is what motivates me to work so hard. That is why I love filmmaking and storytelling. I don’t own much, but any day that I get to work in some sort of field of filmmaking is a good day. The funny thing is, if you’re from the town I grew up in and you get out of that town and build a life full of interesting people, then you’re successful already. The rest has just been a bonus for me.
WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
My first class I took in film school (Columbia College Chicago) I had a teacher named Jennifer Peepas that I got very close with over the weeks in her class. One day after class we were talking and she mentioned the fact that most student filmmakers she has had through the years always have male protagonists in their film. So, she challenged me to make a film with a female protagonist. After writing the script and making the film I found that I really took to writing female roles. I enjoyed it more than anything I had done before. I felt closer to the work, to the characters, to the overall story. After that I began to pursue it, going more in depth. Now I’ve been trying to perfect it, which won’t happen since I am never fully happy with anything I make. Like most artists.
I’m chasing something, plain and simple. An answer I don’t have. The answer to why I don’t ever feel at home anymore, no matter where I live or travel to. The answer to why I feel as though I miss something, but cannot for the life of me pinpoint what exactly I’m missing. I also think it has something to do with loving someone who will never love you in return. So, you project that love on things that remind you of them. It could be anything, in this case, for me, it’s nature and nostalgia. That sounds strange saying it, but I believe it to be true.
FOR OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR FIELD, WHAT DO THEY USUALLY LACK?
My biggest fear is to become like so many people from my generation; grounded, groomed, so perfectly content. They never dream of giving up everything for their art or something they believe in. They’re not mad or passionate the way artists from the past used to be. They like authority. They have plenty of money. They seem so unafraid and so un-angry. It makes them very nice people. It doesn’t make for great art though. I ask them all the time: ‘Aren’t you mad at anything?’ They look at me like I’m off my rocker.”
That’s why some people have said I’ve taken a sort of outsider approach to “making it.” But, I have never understood what that really means, “making it?” Have I been successful, I don’t know?” I think the films I have had the pleasure to make have been both imperfect and successful in showing the parts of life that we don’t often see on screen. To me, it’s a case of: is the scene successful? Is the shot successful?”
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
Right now I've been doing quite a bit of writing and directing for a production company called We Are Famous. I'm also in pre-production on two films I'm shooting in October that I wrote and will be directing.
WHAT'S YOUR STYLE/PERSPECTIVE/TASTE? DO YOU HAVE A PROJECT THAT REPRESENTS THIS?
Bottomline, the only thing I ever really look at in movies is the actors. Obviously there are great movies with great production design and that kind of stuff, but… it probably comes from my first movie, where I realized early on that I didn’t have any money and I was telling a small story, but what I did have was great, up and coming actors, which ended up being the most important thing you could have. I remember talking with one of my producers on a film I did in the past about needing money to do special effects, and he said, “We’ve got the best special effects there is, we’ve got good actors!” And he was right. A nice two- shot with two actors performing great dialogue, that’s a staple of the movies of the ’30s that I love the most.
I love ’30s films, and I’m always trying to emulate that. Sometimes you can’t – sometimes you try to get things in one shot and you realize you’re forcing the staging, and you have to own up to the fact that it’s not working. You always have to keep an eye on it to make sure that your visual ideas aren’t affectations, and that you’re not just adhering to some kind of dogma. But when you can make that kind of thing work naturally, it’s just the best.
WE ARE ALL SLASHIES WITH MULTIPLE SKILLS, WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD DO MORE OFTEN?
Film is my life and it's what I love to do with every waking moment. But, I do wish I could dedicate more of my time to poetry and short form fiction.
WHAT IS FRUSTRATING YOU RIGHT NOW?
What has been frustrating of late is working with people who I don't feel are as passionate as I am. You can't make someone love something. You can only show them how much you care and how passionate you are, and hope they begin to feel it as well.
IF YOU COULD HIRE SOMEONE FOR $20/HOUR, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE THEM DO TO MAKE YOUR DAY EASIER?
I would have them eat and sleep for me.
LET'S BRING OUT THE TIME MACHINE. WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE TOLD YOURSELF, WHEN, AND WHY?
I would have told myself to start chasing the dream earlier. It took me starting in a different career and then finally dropping that to pursue being a director. I simply would have told myself to go all in sooner.
IF YOU COULD TALK TO AN EXPERT TO GAIN MORE INSIGHT ON SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?
I would love to gain more insight on the Holographic Principle.
WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES/PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
Feature films, short films, music videos, and commercials.
WHAT IS YOUR IDEAL CLIENT?
Directing a feature film with A24 would be my dream collaboration. I would also love to work with Nowness.
WHAT IS YOUR RATE?
It ranges from job to job.
You can email me personally at email@example.com and I can answer this for you. I'm willing to work with whatever the budget is.
HOW SHOULD SOMEONE APPROACH YOU ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER?
They can email me or call me directly. All that info is on my site.
HOW DO YOU STAY CREATIVE?
By getting out and living.
LAST QUESTION, WHO'S IN YOUR GO-TO SQUAD?
Jonah Rubash, firstname.lastname@example.org , he is my creative partner and director of photography on every project I direct. He's the best DP I've worked with. He genuinely cares about the creative