Breven Warren – Pulse of Independent Film

Breven Angaelica Warren is a producer, director, actress and programmer for independent film festivals such as Sundance, San Francisco, Miami, AFI and a host of others. My coffee drink for Ms. Warren would be “Zebra” (black and white mocha) at Starbucks. Thats because I would think she likes sweet, chocolaty things…but also wants something NOT on the menu.

 

What was the moment that you knew you wanted to become a filmmaker? 

I have always been passionate about film. I was actively making films in University (Florida State University) for fun and for my own personal art, but I never took a film class and never imagined it as a career. After graduating, I was familiar with the entertainment industry in South Florida. My first time on a studio film was walking around as an ethnographer, to learn about the machine, or community rather than as a film set. While on set I had lots of various conversations with different departments. But it was a teamster who hooked me by saying, “You have to like traveling all of the time. Never knowing when your next job is gonna be. Having to work with different people on every project. Always doing something different…” I was in awe. Someone actually pays people for a job like that? It sounded like a dream. I was in.

Which filmmaker(s) have influenced you most? 

I am constantly influenced by filmmakers. I am continually on the festival circuit being surprised and delighted by new and upcoming talent. I am always excited when I see something I haven’t seen before. And I love when film affects and challenges me.

What is your favorite film and why? 

The impossible question. I love films that I can watch again and again and laugh each time. I also love films that break my heart and make me sick to my stomach because they are so emotionally painful.

What is the hardest thing you have experienced in your journey? 

Because I am constantly working on my own passion projects, funding is the greatest source of stress. I am always putting myself in debt over projects that I believe in. It’s a terrible business model, but I’d rather be creating with what I have than waiting for someone to help. It is both a strength and a weakness.

What is the most embarrassing experience you have had in your career? 

Unfortunately, it is the same as my stress. Most of my projects are delayed due to lack of resources for post production. I feel terrible for everyone who helps create the film with us and has to wait. But, when I literally don’t have the funds for completion, the projects have to wait on the shelf. It’s an embarrassing feeling to let fellow artists down when it can often take so long. But I do believe each project deserves to be completed properly and to its fullest potential. And that takes time and most often money.

What is your favorite stage of the filmmaking process and why?

I love finding new material. I read an enormous amount of scripts looking for material that interests me. I love development and organizing a project that I have found and starting to plan a future for it. The concept of helping it come to its full potential while figuring out the details in pre-production is exciting.

Nothing is actually more fun than production itself. I look at production as though I am hosting a party. Each of my talented guests are extraordinary crew and cast members who are ideal for the role and are guests I want to host. Not only are we coming together for an intense short period where we all have a great time, at the end of the day we will be making a piece of art that can be shared. Making a sharable piece of art that can be shared is incredible.

What would you consider your style? 

I am not sure if I have a specific style. Each of my projects are pieces onto themselves. You can’t really compare them. I have worked on documentaries both serious and whimsical. I have made experimental films and music video style pieces. And I create narratives with dark tones and comedies alike. I believe in good storytelling. I want to make films I think people would enjoy.

If you were not working in the film industry, what would you be doing? 

I imagine I would be hosting other events. I love bringing people together. And I am passionate about the arts.

How would you advise others in your specialty to get better? 

Keep making films. If you have a story to tell, simply start making it. You will learn something with each production no matter the size, just keep creating.

What is your coffee beverage of choice?   

I love coffee. I can appreciate the effects separately than the taste depending on the circumstances. Coffee is ultimately best when you are in another country or culture and you are experiencing it the way they make it.

Bill Cornelius – Filmmaking at 8

BIll Cornelius is a writer, director, editor, director of photography, and owner of Lavorsia Pictures Entertainment. (www.Lavorsia.com)

My coffee beverage for Mr. Cornelius is: Starbucks Caramel Macchiato. Because even though he is a serious man…there is still a little boy that likes sweet things.

 

What was the moment when you knew that you wanted to be a filmmaker?

I was 8 years old. Growing up my parents had basic cable and HBO, and in the 80s movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and E.T. would show on HBO.That was my first introduction to how magical the world of movies and storytelling was. At age eight I decided to borrow my parent’s big VHS video camera to see if I could tell my own stories and produce that same magic. Immediately it was like a drug. There was Instant satisfaction at being able to tell a story and pull so many elements together. Then to share that end product with people and see their faces react. It was very exciting. I was hooked.

Which filmmakers have influenced you most?

Throughout my career it has been Steven Spielberg. Even the animated stuff that he did with Don Bluth like American Tale, and The Land Before Time. Bluth is someone that has had a great imapct on me and its a shame that he hasn’t made a film since 2000 because he can’t get funding. People don’t give him enough credit. I was also influenced by the early works of Robert Zemeckis and how he would take ordinary people and put them in extraordinary and imaginative circumstances. Some contemporary influences would be Christopher Nolan and J.J Abrams.

What is the first thing about a film that you notice and are drawn to? 

The music. A lot of filmmakers can’t watch a movie without analyzing everything. But for some reason I can watch something and suspend all my criticisms and just enjoy it. I don’t like picking a film a part. But I love when directors use music effectively. For example when they assign themes or motifs to different characters. It can either suck me right in or it can push me away. If there is a perfect marriage between the visual and the music it creates a beautiful film. It affects people deeper than they realize.

What filmmaker and film would you say uses music most effectively? 

Steven Spielberg is the master of this. His incredible collaboration with John Williams is something that I’m envious of. The perfect example of this is E.T. The score works so perfectly with that film that its…its amazing and beautiful. Spielberg and Williams approach the scoring perfectly in sync. I want to meet a composer that I can have that same approach and relationship with.

What motivates you to be a filmmaker and artist? 

My main motivating factor is to reach people in a positive way. I told my mom recently that the moment that I know I’ve “made it” as a filmmaker is the moment that someone from the next generation comes up to me and tells me that they are doing what they want to do because of my work. Thats what drives me to keep creating.

What has been the hardest part of your journey as a filmmaker? 

My first few years out of film school. It was such a struggle. I had no demo real and it was really hard to get work. I had to do projects and commercials that I never want people to see. I would never even admit to doing them.

For you, what is the most difficult hurdle as a filmmaker? 

Getting financing for projects. I can come up with a million ideas but the challenge is getting them funded. My perfect world is to have financing appear out of nowhere. But on a serious note, I don’t ever let money stop me from making the films I want. Oftentimes I just go broke investing my own money into making projects a reality.

What “hat” or role do you most enjoy wearing and doing? 

Its hard to choose just one, so I’ll choose two: Director and Writer. Maybe director barely winning out.

What stage of the filmmaking process is your favorite? 

Thats tough because each part has its own enjoyable and non-enjoyable elements. But I love the production process. Seeing everything unfold and figuring out how to toggle the many elements is amazing. And if I had to choose something within production it would have to be the camera and lighting component. I am an extremely visual artist and when I see the shadows, color and lighting coming together to tell the story I get very excited. Its like looking at a book with pictures and just getting excited about the pictures.

If you had unlimited time and budget, and had no consequences to reputation or career what film would you make? 

The feature length version of my short film Lavorsia. Not only is it a personal story; its a stylish, interesting and engaging story that I’ve always wanted to tell in the proper way. Movies are like meals. If I don’t feel like I’ve been satisfied like a good meal at the end of a movie I feel bad. I like to make films that are like a full, satisfying meal. Lavorsia is a film that would be like that. With a dessert at the end.

What would you consider your style of filmmaking? 

Some filmmakers have a very distinct style. For example, people see Tim Burton’s films and they immediately know that its him. And sometimes it feels like directors try forcing a style. I have always had a battle within me between styles. On one hand I have a very warm, imaginative, 80s filmmaking style. On the other side I have a darker, bluer, almost MTVish style. So its a constant battle between those two. I am getting closer to fusing them together to make something though.

What advice would you give aspiring filmmakers? 

Go to film school. Film school allows you to make mistakes and learn how to do and not do things in a way that the real world doesn’t give grace for. Have a passion for what you do. Don’t be pessimistic and negative about yourself and your work. Its a long, hard road and optimism and hope is what will carry you through.

What coffee drink is your drink of choice?

I don’t drink coffee. How about lemonade?

 

 

 

 

Paul Skidmore – Man of the Renaissance

Paul Skidmore is a director, writer, and producer and founder of his production company Parabolos.
The coffee beverage that I would assign to Paul: large black coffee, straight up.

 

When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?
Movies were something that I always loved as a kid. At age 6 I wrote down a list of around 30 occupations that I thought I could do. It was a ridiculously long list. But I’ve always loved movies and wanted to make them but I didn’t know how. I would see these really nerdy pictures of Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis and George Lucas and I’d say to myself, “ I can do that. I am at least a little less nerdy than they are.”
It was in college that I realized that I really wanted to do this. I was sitting in an “Intro to Film” class,, and we were watching Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. (Even though I don’t usually like Spike Lee films) There were parts of that film that were so different than any film I’d ever seen. He stepped outside the traditional form and I knew that there was a reason that he was doing it. I didn’t know the reasons why he was doing them like I know now, but it was in that moment that I knew I had to make movies. I knew I could do it. I just needed to learn how (Skidmore went on to earn a degree in Filmmaking with an emphasis in Producing from the University of North Carolina).

 

Why did you feel the urge to make movies? 
It was similar to Plato’s Cave illustration. When I had my “Aha” moment watching Do the Right Thing, it was such a great feeling. I now wanted to see other people have that same feeling. So I guess it was a little narcissistic at first. I wanted to create something that could create a moment for people just like I had. There’s something about film that is revelatory, and I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to do much more than just entertain people.

 

Which filmmakers do you aspire to be like? 
Those that I aspire to be like are not necessarily in film. Film is actually a very young art form. It’s still an infant. As I’ve gotten older I want to be a part of a greater trajectory that has longevity. So I look to people that have done things that have that type of longevity. People like Michelangelo. One of the last things he wrote was, “Ancora Imparo (Still I learn).” He invented to create, worked passionately and thoroughly. He did things that are “technically” wrong, like the hands and head of his Davidor the proportional sizes of Mary and Jesus in his Pieta, but these became masterpieces because of the reasons behind them those decisions. People like Rachmaninov and Buddy Rich are those I aspire to be like. I’m also influenced by people outside of the classical arts. People like Steve Jobs, or even those that worked in NASA during the 50s and 60s. Look at their work ethic and attention to detail. I have more technology and resources in my iPhone and I use it to go to Facebook.

 

If you were not a Filmmaker, what would you be doing? 
I went to College for Music Education. I love teaching. So probably that.

 

What has been the hardest part about your journey as an artist? 
There’s always been a battle between the wisdom of man (which seeks to know everything) and the wisdom of God (which puts the truly important things first). So the hardest thing has been realizing that I can’t conquer or know everything, and embracing what is truly important and putting that above all else.

 

What is the most embarrassing/worst moment you have had as a filmmaker?
When I think about my life, it’s a series of boneheaded mistakes or failures. But if I had to choose one thing, it’d probably be not taking the time to sit down and learn from the mistakes that I’ve made in the past.

 

What is your favorite component/part of the filmmaking process? 
I’ll give two answers. The first is seeing someone have an  “Aha” moment when they see one of my films. The second is more technical. I love everything entailed with directing. The beauty of that is that with the way I direct it’s not confined to being on set. My style involves a lot of pre-planning and writing/drawing every little thing out before it ever gets to the set. So I can direct even before a project has financing and no one is around.

 

Which role in filmmaking do you like most and of which are you best? 
This is an easy one for me. Directing for sure. Especially when there is a strong team in place that can execute all of their respective responsibilities and I can really focus on directing. But others would probably say producing. I‘ve also become a better writer over the years.

 

What film has influenced you the most? 
Because of the films that I grew up with, the great epics of the 80s have a special place in my heart. Films like E.T., Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Back to the Future. I always saw myself as Eliot (E.T.), or Marty Mcfly (Back to the Future), or Luke Skywalker (Star Wars). The films of Zemeckis and Lucas have influenced me a lot.
One in particular is Cast Away, which has one of the most well crafted endings of any film I’ve ever seen. The way Zemeckis puts the final shot (with the crossroads) on the audience is brilliant. Mel Gibson’s Passion is another one that I believe is masterfully well done. A film that made a huge impact on me that most people have not heard of is Claude Lelouch’s Les Miserables (1995). I can’t even get it on DVD, but it’s a beautiful French film that has shaped my storytelling style.    

 

If you had no limitations to budget, time or reputation what film would you make right now?
Not to avoid the answer, but I’d probably make the films that I’m trying to make right now: Stirring (Short) and Gentleman’s Club (Feature)But if there were no limitations to budget or time and I wanted to do something fun, then I’d make the Sci-Fi futuristic thriller that I mapped out when I was in college (due to the sensitivity of the plot we’ll just have to leave it at that).

 

What is your coffee beverage of choice (with money not being an issue)? 
Quad tall (12oz) ristretto breve latte with honey and light foam.