How did you get inspired to become a filmmaker?
My first love in image-making was black-and-white photography, which I studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York. The images from this time in my life – of plaster statues and playgrounds and naked bodies and skinny horses in rural Spain – are the ancestors of films I would later make about places as diverse as West Virginia and Rome and my own merciless backyard.
What is your favorite part about the short film form?
To paraphrase W. H. Auden, I make what I make to see what I think. I also love to see what other people think, how they view the world around them; their fantasies and fears and desires.
Who were the people that supported the making of this film?
My husband, artist John Freyer; the optical printer at the University of Iowa and the good people of Colorlab.
What resources do you use as a filmmaker? Music, locations, props, editing, crew, etc.
My experimental and documentary films have featured dominatrixes, coal miners, artists, children, populist poets and rural activists – outsiders, in short; inhabitants of the critical margins of our world that are, in the words of Wendell Berry, “always freeholds of wildness.” People and their stories are always the most important ‘resource,’ music is pretty important, too.
What is your next project?
A feature documentary called All Things are Photographable, on the life and work of acclaimed photographer Garry Winogrand – the epic storyteller in pictures of America across three turbulent decades. His artistry encompassed the heartbreak, violence, hope, and turmoil of postwar America, from the frenzy of its urban core to the alienation of its emergent suburbs.
Which filmmakers, artists or individuals have most influenced your work?
Chick Strand, Lynne Sachs, Gunvor Nelson, Jean Rouch, Michael Almereyda, Sam Green, Jem Cohen, Su Friedrich, Jean Dubuffet, Helen Levitt, Alice Munro, Mary Gaitskill, Robert Hass, Adrienne Rich, Robert Frost, Kevin Everson, Sylvia Plath…
What advice would you give new filmmakers?
If you don’t tell your story, who will? And: “The problem of the artist is to state the problem.” That’s from Garry Winogrand.
Visit the filmmaker’s website http://www.pieshake.com
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