How did you get inspired to become a filmmaker?
There is something very rewarding about working alongside talented people and orchestrating the fusion of ideas. When I was first experimenting with short films, the medium was a way to have a social life with so many demands from my family with two special needs siblings. Film is an artistic outlet for me, and is that for me today. I have a passion for vivid detail within the frame. Creating a piece with layers of depth visually and psychologically is what I strive for as a writer/director.
What is your favorite part about the short film form?
How fast it can go. Every project has obstacles you have to overcome but sometimes with a short film you can reach the light at the end of the tunnel much faster. You can really turn around and execute a concept into a finished product in a matter of months and be on your way towards exhibition, that’s exhilarating!
Who were the people that supported the making of this film?
Everyone on the crew for Colorado Revealed is a part of CineVIA Pictures, we approached the film as a team building exercise for our new production company knowing we’d all be volunteering and coordinating taking time off to do it. Anastasia Cummings has been my best friend and filmmaking partner since we finished our last film Menschen together 4 years ago. She came on board as a producer for Colorado Revealed while launching the first annual One Nation Film Festival. I went to college with our other producer Mike Newman and we began collaborating back in those days. In development Mike pitched the San Luis Valley area which led us to showcase many of the beautiful locations in the surrounding southern Colorado area. Our director of photography David Grauberger has been a frequent collaborator with Anastasia. He’s traveled around the world with his camera and even with Emmy nominations for ‘Outstanding Camera Work’ he is always humble and down to earth in his process. Alex Gray is a writer/director, visual effects and special effects artist. On Colorado Revealed he was always at David’s side as 1st Assistant Camera and drew the beautiful storyboards that seamlessly visualize the landscapes we were capturing. David Baud is a seasoned filmmaker, editor and colorist. In just two days he cut the spot integrating the animation elements and then finally ‘coloring’ the film. One treat on Colorado Revealed was to work with Christophe Millois who composed the original music for the piece. Based in France, we had to work across timezones to coordinate notes and uploads. Christophe took his inspiration for the music from the point of view of an eagle soaring over Colorado.
What resources do you use as a filmmaker? Music, locations, props, editing, crew, etc.
I like to work with a composer whenever possible, even if you’re convinced you think you know exactly what you want more often than not their perspective makes a world of difference in the sound you have underscoring your work. I do like to write for location. We spent a lot of time scouting places that would convey the moods and range we needed to showcase for Colorado. Every prop in Colorado Revealed: Worlds Within was chosen to tie into our specific roles as filmmakers. I’m taking pictures with a camera because pictures can be a great reference when I write. Anastasia is timing distance on a location scout. Alex is drawing. David has his camera. All these tools define what we do as professionals on a day to day basis. Colorado Revealed was shot on the Sony F5 with supplemental footage from the Panasonic GH4, edited on Adobe Premiere Pro, with graphics created in After Effects and colored in DaVinci.
What is your next project?
I’m in development of a feature, that was a finalist in consideration for the Sundance Writer’s Lab this year. That film is a political thriller around a documentary filmmaker and the real life consequences of whistle-blowing. At CineVIA Pictures we’re developing another short from one of our teammates and we’re always taking proposals for features and commercials looking to shoot in Colorado. I embrace all of that because it’s the reason we wanted to form a company.
The independent film business is a difficult one. What keeps you motivated? Where do you see the industry going in the future?
Discouragement is something you face in any field, overcoming set backs is just part of staying positive. I am in film because I know if I ever gave it up, I would regret it someday. I would have wondered what films I could have made. I’m passionate about my craft is because film has the incredible potential to inspire and instigate social change. If I were to give up because of a bump in the road I’d loose a lot of my voice as an individual.
Which filmmakers, artists or individuals have most influenced your work?
More often than not it’s the individuals I’ve worked with. Being surrounded by people that inspire you is an incubator for creativity. When you go through difficult times on a set I’ve learned that there are certain things I never want to do in my work. I’m grateful to have been mentored by many different filmmakers in different walks of life. Most recently, my filmmaking partner Anastasia taught me a lot about myself. The way I prepare and work with people now as a director has been shaped by being alongside her for so long. While we may all be influenced by what we see, I never want to emulate another artist, I strive to find my own voice and perspective and go against the grain.
What advice would you give new filmmakers?
Research. Prepare with the anticipation that it could all go wrong and you’ll have to find your own alternatives. Recognize and be appreciative of all the people who you work with, no one’s ego is worth the fuss and frustration that comes from putting someone above someone else. Strive to be better, but don’t expect perfection.
Watch and vote for “Colorado Revealed Worlds Within” by Filmmaker Sarah R. Lotfi competing in Colorado Revealed Video Contest.
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