Search Film Reviews

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

From the Mouths of Filmmakers: Anna Martemucci

Anna Martemucci
By Anna Martemucci 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 Anna Martemucci, director of HOLLIDAYSBURG, a film created as part of Starz TV series THE CHAIR. Martemucci also co-wrote BREAKUP AT A WEDDING and the upcoming PERIODS.

Do you feel that it is important for aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers to view independent and world cinema and why (if you don't feel it is important, please tell me why)?
I think it's incredibly important, especially now that we're living in an age where studios are becoming more and more reliant on franchises, superheroes, and the phenomenon of "pre-awareness" to stay afloat, any type of movie that does not have those elements has a much harder time finding an audience, and that's a lot of movies. So if you're someone who loves film, or just loves being told a good story and feeling connected to the world, I think it's important to be vigilant about finding "the good stuff" (whatever that means to you).  Recognize that "the good stuff," or the stories that end up mattering the most to you, may not be at your multiplex anymore. The age when my teenage sister went to the theater to see PULP FICTION in our small Pennsylvania town and came back looking like a changed person, is not the age we live in now. Now she would have to find Pulp Fiction on Netflix or Hulu probably. She would have had to seek it out. Chris Moore admits that as a producer, he doesn't think he could even get GOOD WILL HUNTING made today, let alone get it into theaters across the country.  I get so excited when I see a film that speaks to me, and largely these days, I find those films through word of mouth, and digitally…not in the theaters. For people who live anywhere but a major city, it's even more like that.  It's so important, I think, to find the stories that you really connect with, because when that happens, it enriches human experience. There are so many beautiful, funny, heartbreaking, scary, thrilling, quiet, action-packed, whatever-you-want, just awesome stories being told in the world of "independent film" (which is basically all non-studio-funded movies), and it's just a matter of finding the ones you love and letting them enrich your life.
Do you believe that it is important for aspiring filmmakers and filmgoers to view films of the past and why (if you don't feel that it is important, please tell why)? 

If you want to be a filmmaker, you have to watch films. That would be like deciding to fly a plane without ever having seen a plane before, let alone taking lessons. I don't believe that learning the language of film takes film school or classes of any kind: it takes a love of film and the ability to absorb stories. Film hasn't been around that long; it's a relatively new medium for humans, and that makes it all the more exciting to me. There are so many things that haven't been done before, so many untold stories and so many untried ways of telling them. It boggles the mind! We need all kinds of people telling stories through film, because it's through stories that we get a deeper understanding of the world around us, and film and TV and online content--narrative stories basically--are the predominant delivery systems for stories right now. So while it's very important to watch movies if you want to make them, I am also not a believer that an aspiring filmmaker has to have seen EVERYTHING. That notion is a trap that can keep you from taking yourself seriously as a budding filmmaker. You don't have to be an encyclopedia of film history in order to allow yourself to be a filmmaker. Simply put: it's great to watch a lot of movies because it's great to explore what it is to be human. If you're an aspiring filmmaker, when you find the movies that speak to you the most, watch them over and over again and learn from them. 
How did viewing indies, films from around the world, and classics help/influence you when directing HOLLIDAYSBURG, or writing any of the films you've written like BREAKUP AT A WEDDING or PERIODS.? 
It helps tremendously. If it wasn't for the movies from the past that I love, being a filmmaker would feel like driving with a blindfold on (plane and car metaphors are where it's at for me right now). For each movie I've been involved in, there have been different influences. When making anything, there's always a pool, sometimes large, sometimes very small, of films that we're pulling inspiration from. The feel of the dialogue from RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, the photography from UNCLE BUCK, the feeling of chaos from David O. Russell's FLIRTING WITH DISASTER, etcetera. Literally any element, small or large, from movies that you love can be used as inspiration. Making a movie, to me, is a little celebration of all the things I've loved from a life of watching movies, and from life itself, and finding a way to capture the spirit of those things, and celebrate my love of them in the form of a new movie. It's a fun game to play.
What's one American indie, (doc or narrative), one non-English-language film (doc or narrative), and one classic (define that one any way you wish) that you would recommend that film-lovers or young/aspiring filmmakers see?
I recently saw a documentary that killed me, in a good way--there was just so much humanity on screen. I dare you to watch this film and not cry. It's called BLOOD BROTHER, directed by Steve Hoover, and it's available on Netflix.  
CINEMA PARADISO by Giuseppe Tornatore is a must-see (and one of my favorite reasons to love being an Italian). 
Wes Anderson's RUSHMORE is one of my favorite movies of all time, and I consider it a modern classic. 
From the Mouths of Filmmakers continues on Thursday. 

No comments:

Post a Comment