Writing is maybe the most difficult of all creative pursuits. There is no momentum. In fact, there are many things actively resisting anything resembling momentum, starting with that looming blank page. William Goldman once said, “The easiest thing to do on earth is not to write” and he was absolutely right.
Seattleites Casey Warren and Danielle Krieger are the creative duo behind the production company Mindcastle and the new film From 1994 (one the first ever to be shot with the MōVI and Alexa M together). And really, “creative duo” doesn’t do them justice. These two finish each other’s sentences. After meeting in high school, they started their own photography company to avoid getting summer jobs. Since then, they’ve gone on to create videos for the likes of ESPN, HBO, and Disney. And on top of all of that, they’re an absolute delight to chat with. Here is our conversation with Casey Warren and Danielle Krieger.
What makes a short film a short film? If you asked us a month ago, we might have told you that a short film’s defining characteristic is, well, its shortness. But not anymore. For the past few weeks, we’ve been trading emails with Dr. Richard Raskin, a professor at Aarhus University in Denmark, and one of the most brilliant and active short-film theorists in the world. Not only does Dr. Raskin make short films, teach short films, and speak around the world at conferences about short films, but he also edits an academic journal about short films called, appropriately, Short Film Studies.
For the past two weeks, we’ve been consumed with A Guide for the Perplexed: Conversations with Paul Cronin, a nearly 600-page conversation between the legendary (and infamous) filmmaker Werner Herzog and editor Paul Cronin. While Herzog comes from an older generation of filmmakers, his rogue approach to cinema strikes us as being particularly timely today. Not just timely, actually — but challenging. At 72 years old, Werner Herzog is still ahead of his time.
Since launching the Musicbed Community, we have interviewed dozens and dozens of filmmakers and artists from all around the world. We’ve flown to Paris. We’ve Skyped to South Africa. We’ve G-Chatted to Spain. And during all that time, we’d like to think we’ve not only gotten better at interviewing people, but that we’ve learned a few practical lessons along the way. We’ve written them down here.
It’s impossible to say what makes a film great. Useless to prescribe any rules, since often the best films break them anyway. A more helpful discussion, then, might be to talk about what makes a film bad — and what can be done about it (this is the helpful part).
Matthew Porterfield, a 39-year-old filmmaker from Baltimore, Maryland, has written and directed four feature films, including Hamilton, Putty Hill, I Used to Be Darker, and the soon-to-be-released Sollers Point. His work has been screened at acclaimed festivals such as Sundance, SXSW, and the Berlinale. And in 2010 he was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. It’s an impressive CV for any filmmaker, let alone one who claims, for the most part, to lack ambition.
It was tempting to open this interview with some sort of dog cliché about learning new tricks or letting them out or barking up the wrong tree. But the truth is, any cliché used in relation to Animal Studio’s web-series-turned-TV-show, Downward Dog, would be tone deaf. The show is the opposite of a cliché. It’s a fresh, dark, genuinely funny spin on what could easily have been a farce: a talking dog named Martin. “I got Samm [Hodges] involved, which is ironic because he thought it was the worst idea in the world,” writer/creator/director Michael Killen told us. “We landed on this very self-involved, Millennial-toned dog who’s looking back on his life and trying to decide whether or not he mattered. That gave it this dead serious tone, which is actually what makes it so funny.”
Three recent design school graduates are sitting in a room somewhere in the Netherlands, listening to an album. The record skips. They think: Did the record just skip? Or did we travel through time a little bit? It’s the kind of bizarro question that will become common for these three. Jump-cut 10 years into the future, and this seed of an idea has become the Oscar-nominated animated short film A Single Life, created by the now-renowned animation studio Job, Joris & Marieke.
Dylan Allen’s The Privates manages to tackle sci-fi, indie-rock, group dynamics, and merge them into one brilliantly thoughtful short film. The ideas in the ensemble comedy transcend filmmaking: waiting for your big break, struggling through creative differences, grappling with the drive to create something so great it melts faces. But despite all of those highly recognizable elements, the film has a wit and through-line that is totally original. That’s probably due in large part to the work Allen put into making every single role in his cast of characters strong enough to stand out from the background noise.