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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

From the Mouths of Filmmakers: Kelly Masterson

Kelly Masterson
June 23, 2014
 - Source: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images North America
By Kelly Masterson 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 Kelly Masterson, best-known for co-writing Snowpiercer and writing Before the Devil Knows You're Dead.

Do you feel that it is important for aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers to view independent and world cinema and why?
It is imperative for filmmakers to see independent and world cinema in order to broaden their own horizons, inspire and challenge themselves.  You can find such innovative work if you look beyond the borders of traditional Hollywood filmmaking.  I want every script of mine to be unusual and new.

I think filmgoers should see what they like.  Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to try something new and daring every now and then.  Who knows, you might find someone you love – like Bong Joon-ho.
 Do you feel that it is important for aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers to view classics and why?
It has been extremely helpful to me to see movies from the past while working on specific pieces.  I recently re-watched Papillion and Midnight Express as I was working on an escape film.  I think it is helpful for structure to look at what works.  It is also inspiring to revisit movies that have moved you or impressed you in some way and then to try to emulate the success of that piece.  I also just love some of the great performances and scripts of the past – Network!!

Again, filmgoers should see what they like.  With hundreds of new movies and thousands of TV options, we can be inundated with material.  But – if you find a rainy day and want a real treat – check out All About Eve or Dog Day Afternoon.  Amazing filmmaking!
How did viewing indies and films from around the world help you when writing Snowpiercer, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Killing Kennedy, or any of the other films you've written?
Certainly Snowpiercer and Devil grew out of my love for intense, character driven, quirky and unusual storytelling that is most associated with independent films.  Devil is structurally daring.  Snowpiercer is daring in its mash up of genre.  Independent filmmaking allows experimentation and bold choices in ways that commercial fare does not.  We can take chances.
Killing Kennedy is more mainstream but, even there, I am influenced by the strong character work of independent films that encourage and inspire filmmakers to dig deeper on the motivations of characters such as Lee Harvey Oswald and allow us to try to present them as three dimensional humans who you might even care about. 
What's one American indie and one film not in English that you would recommend that film-lovers or young/aspiring filmmakers see? 
Anything Sidney Lumet or Bong Joon-ho – sorry, had to say that.  Seriously, watch Running on Empty from Lumet.  I love the storytelling and how gripping this story is emotionally.  A passionate father wants his son to follow in his footsteps but finally lets go to allow him live his own life.  Stunning performances from Judd Hirsch and River Phoenix.  Love it.  Watch Mother from Director Bong – desperate woman tries to save her son.  Brilliant character work and it keeps surprising and defying your expectations.  Well, would you look at that – I like intense parent/child stories with heavy doses of desperation.
From the Mouths of Filmmakers continues on Friday.

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