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Friday, September 19, 2014

From the Mouths of Filmmakers: Lindsay Blatt

Lindsay Blatt
By Lindsay Blatt 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 exciting and original voices in modern 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 responses below are from Lindsay Blatt, producer/director of the award-winning short documentary, "Herd in Iceland", which is currently airing on PBS.

Do you feel that it is important for aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers to view independent and world cinema and why?
Independent and world cinema plays a very important role in the film world, and also in wider culture.  These are genres in which smaller films can be made and where both filmmakers and audiences can experiment.  At times it is like there is a contract being made between all the people that it takes to make this kind of film and with the audience that ultimately watches it.  Everyone goes into it knowing there will be surprises, and ultimately the payoff can be much bigger than with a mainstream movie.  The expectations are different, as is the foundation for how the film actually gets made. This all adds up to a very different outcome with less homogenization, and who wouldn't want that?  But of course, I appreciate big studio films too!
Do you feel that it is important for aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers to view films of the past and why?
Yes, everything old is new again. Or - it's all been done before. The creative culture frequently hears this.  It is challenging to not allow that type of thinking to influence the work you're doing. But knowing your history is extremely important.  Especially with technology playing such an important role in how films are being made. It's great to lift techniques from a time when it was so difficult to get the desired result. As a viewer, older films can really transport you to another era. I know when I watch an old black-and-white film, I am transfixed by how the scenes are lit and by the pace of the dialogue.  I'm sure this seeps into the work I do.
How did viewing indies and films from around the world help you when creating "Herd in Iceland" and any of the other films you've produced?
I think the documentary work that had the most influence on me is what is shown on my local PBS station.  Series like Nature, American Masters, Independent Lens, and POV are national treasures.  I wanted to make something that was a beautiful watch, but that also gave people a look at a culture and tradition that was new to them.  I by no means made a "nature doc." But, being able to change scales - mixing spectacular landscapes and animals with interesting human characters - such a good match. With a background in photography, my storytelling comes from a quiet place - maybe more so than if I had a degree in film.  Being familiar and lover of small budget films meant that I had an understanding of the bare minimum that's needed to make a quality piece.  
What's one English-language indie and one non-English-language film that you would recommend that film-lovers or young/aspiring filmmakers see?
English-language indie: Mary and Max
Non-English-language film: Summer Pasture
From the Mouths of Filmmakers continues on Monday.

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