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Monday, July 28, 2014

From the Mouths of Filmmakers: Daniel Patrick Carbone

Daniel Patrick Carbone, Champs Elysees Film Festival
Photo by Studio Harcourt, Paris - © Studio Harcourt, Paris

By Daniel Patrick Carbone and Joshua Handler 

Recently I've been disturbed by the amount of people who don't seek out independent films, non-English-language films, and classics.  So, I asked some of the most distinctive voices in independent and world cinema to submit responses to a few questions about why/if they think indies/non-English-language films/classics are important to view, and how those films have been influential on their careers.

The response below is from Daniel Patrick Carbone, director of Hide Your Smiling Faces, one of the most impressive films at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. The film also played the 2013 Berlin Film Festival and the 2013 BFI London Film Festival. It was released theatrically earlier this year and is currently available for rental and purchase.

Do you feel that it is important for aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers to view independent and world cinema and why?
To me, there is almost nothing more important for young aspiring filmmakers to be doing than absorb modern independent and world cinema. The landscape of independent cinema is constantly shifting. For a small film to finally reach an audience, be it through a limited theatrical run or on VOD, is a huge accomplishment and is often the result of years of hard work. Seeing these films not only supports the filmmakers who made them, but also helps provide context to what a "film" looks like in 2014. What is possible on a low budget and small crew? What does a debut feature that makes it to a public audience look like? It's great to be inspired by Hollywood films and classic indies, but it's just as important to see what other filmmakers who are just starting out are doing? How are they challenging the idea of what an "indie" is and how can you learn from that and bring it to your own work?
 Do you feel that it is important for aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers to view classics and why?
Some filmmakers (or painters, or writers, or musicians) avoid "the classics" while they are working on a project. Often this is due to a fear of letting important work from the history of their chosen medium seep into their own work. While I think this is fair (and something I do as well from time to time), I think it's essential for a filmmaker to be aware of what came before them. There is over a century of groundbreaking work from thousands of brilliant filmmakers. To ignore that would doing yourself a disservice. Even if you have no interest in following classical storytelling structure in your own work, it's important to know those rules, and how they were started, to be able to break them in a meaningful way. The only reason people like me are able to make films today is because of the people who took risks and made them in the past - many of whom I now call influences on my own work. I think it's important to have influences and to know what moves you or doesn't move you in other filmmakers' work.
Courtesy of Tribeca Film
How has viewing indies and films from around the world helped you as a filmmaker?
Simply, viewing all kinds of films from filmmakers from all kinds of backgrounds allows you to better understand yourself as a filmmaker. I've been watching films my entire life, and I can think of a number of times I've seen a film that made me feel something that no other film had before. Those are the moments that made me want to make films. I want to make an audience feel that way I felt (and still sometimes feel). Even if you are dead set on making one kind of film, it's important to keep an eye on what the rest of the industry is doing. You never know what might inspire you. 
What's one American indie and one film not in English that you would recommend that film-lovers or young/aspiring filmmakers see? 
American Indie - This is an impossible question, but since HIDE YOUR SMILING FACES is what spurred these questions, I'll mention an American film that influenced that film. David Gordon Green's GEORGE WASHINGTON. This is a beautiful and moving film with a nearly all-child cast of non-actors. This was one of the first films I remember seeing that treated kids as the complex people that they are and really gave them the room to move and speak in a realistic way.

Foreign Film - Andrei Tarkovsky's STALKER. That moment I was speaking about earlier? I never felt it as strongly as I did the first time I saw STALKER. It's unlike anything else that was made before or since. Sometimes it's a dreamlike experience that washes over me, and others it's a complex puzzle begging to be solved.
From the Mouths of Filmmakers continues on Wednesday.

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